Published on May 8th, 2015 | by Nicole Jekich


Enabling Horrible Punchlines Free of Consequence

Cards Against Humanity isn’t Funny Anymore

Shut Up & Sit Down posted a thorough review of Cards Against Humanity yesterday which finally puts into words my growing discomfort with the popularity of this game.

Nearly two years ago, I too wrote a review covering this party game for horrible people. My thoughts of CAH at that time were indifferent and I had concluded that it is a only game I play with friends and only in the presence of an alcohol-supported setting. I realize now that the drinking requirement was a way to absolve me of any discomfort I may have while playing offensive punchlines.

As SU&SD mentions:

“I find it pretty easy to understand how some people wouldn’t find some of these funny, particularly if they recognize themselves, their experiences or someone they know as the butt of one of these “jokes”.”

I’ve become more aware and sensitive to issues that come up in CAH’s more controversial cards and potential pairings. The shock value is even more uncomfortable because of how closely is reflects the real problems around the world. Everyday in the news we have more universities under investigation for a lack of response to sexual assaults and rape; reports of hate crimes against LGBTQ people and supporters; immigrants dying while trying to escape poverty, war and disease; and apathetic responses to deaths of the black Americans or disenfranchised people. There are multiple issues that I want to fight to correct. I don’t want to see these serious issues be the butt of jokes as a popular social pastime anymore.

My biggest complaint with CAH’s support and popularity is the resulting wave of spin-off games trying to ‘hit it big’ with a similar game idea. Instead of building on the interaction of party games to create a unique experience, some designers take CAH’s success as an ‘okay’ to produce something offensive. At the end of my original review of CAH, I expressed this concern:

“I am hoping that this party game fad continues to grow, but I also hope it evolves into a genre of board games that relies on more than just shock value. Perhaps we can build a party game that is actually made to help start conversations between strangers or offers a more dynamic challenge while still being approachable by newbie gamers.”

Quoting the SU&SD article again:

“If [Cards Against Humanity is] part of the “face” of modern board gaming, it’s also the pervert’s moustache and smug grin”

Since playing CAH for the first time, I’ve experienced party games that encourage a social interaction, entertainment and are easy to learn without offensive material. There are far better games out there to spend your money and time on.

*Hey, even the creators of Cards Against Humanity are trying to bring more indie games to publication through their Tabletop Deathmatch competition. Start branching out with games that the creators of CAH and other game designers enjoy and would like to see published.

**The featured image is an illustration by Tom Humberstone. The original article on Shut Up & Sit Down features more images created by this talented artist.

About the Author

Nicole Jekich

came from humble beginnings as a Boise suburbanite with a love of Cranium and Trivial Pursuit. She attended an open board game day three years ago and is now an avid gamer and fantasy artist. Her interests are primarily in Dungeons & Dragons, dice placement and Roman-themed tabletop games. Nicole is also a fan of playing games that let her release her inner barbarian. Her favorite game currently is Far Space Foundry.

2 Responses to Enabling Horrible Punchlines Free of Consequence

  1. Joe Pilkus says:


    Well stated…while I’ve never played CAH, I know people who own it and I’ve certainly flipped through the cards and found humor in them. But, it’s that uncomfortable humor one experiences when they’ve read something , maybe, a bit too uncomfortable, or worse, a bit too familiar.


  2. Thank you for your comment Joe. Yes that’s exactly why I changed my perspective on CAH over the past year. I didn’t have a problem before with CAH–I played it exclusively with friends and we knew each others’ comfort zones and sense of humor. Since I’ve started playing more games with strangers (because we playtest a lot of games at our local FLGS, visit conventions, etc) I’ve become more sensitive towards content that may lead to a negative experience. I want gaming to be fun for all involved.

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