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Playtime PR’s Lesley Singleton takes a bite from the alluring forbidden fruit that is ‘Games for Badults’.

Naughty but nice

A party game for horrible people. With that gem of a strapline emblazoned across the box, surely nobody can doubt that Cards Against Humanity (CAH) isn’t for the faint-hearted?

Yet that didn’t stop a certain newspaper from getting its knickers in a twist recently about the ‘vile dinner party game’.

I’m unashamedly a CAH fan, and equally passionate about consumer choice: if a group of grown-ups want to play a game which openly claims to deliberately cross certain lines of taste, surely that’s up to them?

And the true beauty of CAH is how it, like many other games in this growing ‘Games for Badults’ subset, cleverly and quite intentionally manages to leave those actual lines very much in the hands of the players: the game can only be as offensive as the people who play it.

CAH is the most popular game at Board Game Club, so much so that, at the July event, we’re introducing a gong at timed intervals to ration players’ time on the game. This is no one-off or isolated incident; plenty of other grown-up party games are gaining ground in the popularity stakes.

Superfight, a title we imported from the USA especially for Board Game Club, controversially claims it will “cost you all of your friendships” whilst still hitting the right level with groups of mates ready to battle with their black-and white cards.

While Linkee remains popular with quiz fans and rapidly cements its place as a modern, interactive classic, there’s a new kid on the block by the name of Accentuate – a card-based game where players guess accents being mimicked by other teammates.

It enjoyed an impressive debut at the last Board Game Club, trading on the fact that it’s about the most embarrassing, uncomfortable to play, squirm-inducing game to date.

So what is it about these ‘Games for Badults’ that makes them so alluring? For me, it’s not just the stylised packaging and promise of controversy; it’s the winning combination of interaction and flexibility that brings an exciting level of personalisation rarely seen in the boxed games sector.

Flexibility stems from the rules, which are easily tweaked to fit the friends, and often facilitate further interaction via crowdsourcing or bolt-on packs to extend the game-play

Increasingly, we’re seeing players encouraged to remix their own content for the games, be it new questions for Linkee or different accent choices for Accentuate.

Such games are popular because the players have a stake in how fun, offensive, brutal, embarrassing or friendly they really are.

It’s a winning formula and an exciting year for adults bored of bridge and looking for more than personalities stuck on a post-it note.

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