Critical Play: Bluffing, Judging and Getting Vulnerable – The { } And

Game Description + Theme

The { } And is a Getting-To-Know-You game in which 2 players ask each other questions to test their relationship. Players take turns picking a card from the deck and asking the written question to the other player.


Most people are familiar with this game via the YouTube channel The Skin Deep who posts videos of people (usually couples) playing it. In these videos, you see two individuals sitting opposite each other, taking turns asking one another questions. The questions are designed to elicit emotions and encourage deep conversation. This is evident by the many tears shed on the channel.

The objective of the game is to be honest and vulnerable in one’s response to the questions posed. There isn’t any specific goal to be achieved in playing The { } And; rather, it’s an opportunity for individuals to express themselves and get to know one another better using the cards as guiding forces. In many of the videos of people playing The { } And, you can see topics diverging from the question at hand, which is okay. In fact, I would argue that this is a design choice; by keeping the questions board and open-ended, the designers are hoping these cards would in turn foster a conversation that is much deeper and personal than the cards can achieve.


The { } And’s mechanics as described above create a very unique game dynamic that allows users to have fun. More precisely, fun is achieved through Expression, Fellowship, and Challenge aesthetics.

Expression is the core aesthetics of The { } And since its main objective is to get people talking about topics that may not be easy to do so in an unstructured setting. The nature of the question/answer format of the game and the Getting-To-Know-You theme of the game encourages players to express themselves as truthfully and openly as possible. 

Additionally, players experience fun via the Fellowship this game affords them. The fact that players are walking into the game without any prior knowledge of the questions makes them feel equal with one another and united in that sense. They are, in a sense, working together to play the game. Without the complete engagement of both parties, the game wouldn’t be very effective or fun.

Another form of fun in The { } And is Challenge. Many of the questions asked aren’t easy to answer. But that’s exactly why this game works; it makes people uncomfortable and forces them to answer questions that they would otherwise avoid. What differentiates The { } And from “normal” conversations and makes it a successful game is the environment it affords to players. It creates a safe and open space in which both individuals are aware and are mentally & emotionally prepared to enter. Additionally, it helps people put into words the questions/concerns/doubts that they may have about their relationship and provides room for people to talk about things that they otherwise don’t know how to or were uncomfortable doing.


My friend and I played the virtual friends edition of The { } And on our phones. The app requires players to be on a video call in an attempt to replicate the real-life experience of the game. On the bottom of the screen is a stack of the deck where players take turns picking. A player taps on the card on the top which reveals the question (the other person can’t see the question) that he/she should ask the other player. After the other player has answered the question, they switch roles. This is repeated until both parties wish to stop.

While playing the game, we noticed how the questions brought up things we don’t normally talk about and we uncovered a lot about our friendship as a result of playing this. One question/improvement I have is including one or two “skip” tokens/cards that each player gets at the beginning of the game. A player can use these to skip a question. Obviously, we were able to skip questions we didn’t feel like answering but I feel like having a certain number of skippable questions can ensure people play the game fully without skipping too many and forces people to talk about things. But I also understand that this may be concerning especially if people aren’t ready to talk about certain topics but that can be clearly stated.

Overall, I found this game really engaging and important. I enjoy playing games like this and will definitely play this again!

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