Published on October 29th, 2014 | by Nicole Jekich2
Q & A: SpeakEasy by Mind Jello Games
The casual card game market has exploded over the last couple years from the continuing success of party and pub games like Cards Against Humanity, Two Rooms & A Boom and the recent re-releases of classic group games, Werewolf and Mafia. Casual games are finding their way into more pubs, break rooms and social circles bringing more and more gamers. Mind Jello Games is an indie game company in Seattle and their first game, SpeakEasy, is currently on Kickstarter. SpeakEasy is a bold pub game where players challenge each other to complete different social missions with the purpose of interacting with strangers and making new friends in pub setting. We asked the creators at Mind Jello to elaborate on their game with a few questions about their ideas behind SpeakEasy.
Below is the Kickstarter campaign video for SpeakEasy and questions followed by the answers from the Mind Jello Games team.
What was the inspiration for creating SpeakEasy?
The rap on gamers is that they lack social skills, and things like #gamergate only serve to perpetuate that stereotype. I think that’s BS. I’m a big role play gamer (my day job), and I routinely play with some of the most fun, outgoing people in Seattle. SpeakEasy is an effort to get gamers up from their tables, and to spread their awesomeness all around town by asking them to interact with random NPCs!
What makes SpeakEasy a unique pub game compared to other pub or party games?
In my experience, most pub games are insular. They’re usually designed to either create fun in-group interactions, or to get players absurdly, belligerently drunk (helloooo King’s Cup!) However, SpeakEasy dares its players to break out of their clique, walk to the next table over, and go meet new people! This means that social skills, friendliness, and a bold attitude are all part of a winning strategy. It’s one of the few games we know of where competing in-game makes you real-life friends.
How did you choose which social missions to add into the game? What was your process?
Our original designs were straight-out bananas. The alpha missions were very edgy, and were designed to subvert social norms, push people’s comfort zones, and to make people consider the social contract in a serious way. However, as we playtested it, we realized that we were totally up our own bums, and that people really didn’t want some high-concept BS. So we made the missions more about meeting people, making new friends, and getting outrageous with your friends. In short, we made it more fun!
What do you hope gamers and recipients of the social missions will gain after participating in SpeakEasy’s social interaction gameplay?
For starters, we just hope players have a good time, and meet some awesome new people. We’ve had some pretty epic nights out playing SpeakEasy, and we hope that we can pass some of that on to others. On a deeper level, we hope this reminds people to connect with each other on a human level every once in a while. In the digital age, so many of our interactions are mediated through the internet. That’s fine, but we hope people remember that you really can just walk up to a stranger and start a conversation. As it turns out, it’s usually pretty interesting!
What advice to you have for designers who would like to publish their next game on Kickstarter?
Don’t underestimate how much time/effort/money it’s gonna take! Think of all the things, then add an imaginary quantity of more. It can be quite overwhelming. SpeakEasy has been blessed with the help of Jeff McCord at Kickwise, a marketing consultancy firm that specializes in Kickstarter campaigns. We couldn’t have done it without Jeff’s help.
What is your favorite social mission in the deck?
Mind Jello Games: My personal favorite is, “Target player must make a stranger laugh.” For me, this mission is really in the spirit of the game. SpeakEasy is all about making friends out of strangers, and what better way to promote that than through laughter? Secondly, it’s not as easy as it sounds! Approaching someone with the intent to make them laugh is actually pretty daunting. I suggest brushing up on your Dad jokes for this one!