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October 24, 2014

Cards Against Urbanity is an irreverent card game about, er, urban planning

By City Monitor Staff

If you’ve been to any parties lately with the right mix of snarks and geeks, you might have played a game called “Cards Against Humanity”. The premise is pretty simple: one person reads out a “question card” containing a blank or a question, such as “White people like _____” or “what are my parents hiding from me”? The other players then select one of the cards in their hand to answer the question or fill the blank: “the blood of Christ”, say, or “ethnic cleansing”. Whoever creates the most offensive or funny combination wins the round.

The game has been called the most “the most offensive – and lucrative – game on earth” by Bloomberg Business Week for its massive sales (it has 15,000 five star reviews on Amazon) and its politically incorrect content.  

Now, the urban planning community has its own version. “Cards Against Urbanity” runs to the same format as its predecessor, but using city planner lingo and situations. Question cards include “The city council recently banned______” and “Architects should really pay more attention to ______”, while answer cards mimic the tongue-in-cheek tone of the original game: “little people dressed as traffic cones”; “urban design that actually kills children”; “Mancaves”; “all nude rooftop deck”; “the poor people entrance”.

The game’s creators, a group of planners and architects from Washington DC, say the game is a response to the expectation that citizens should be monitoring, reporting back on and even planning their city. To this end, the game includes “cardsplainers”, which translate city planner jargon for the uninitiated.

In a video on the game’s Kickstarter page, Lisa Ninenson, one of the creators says:

Wherever you live, cities, towns and rural areas around the globe are inviting people to take a more active role in shaping where they live, whether it’s reporting potholes on your smartphone or listing budget priorities….

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But running a city is complicated and technical, so how do you get up to speed? Luckily, we’re committed to bringing planning to the people, and what better way to do that than a rude and irreverant card game?

The group managed to almost triple their $7,500 Kickster goal by this week’s deadline, and backers will receive a deck of cards, plus T-shirts and/or a bench to play the game for more generous donors. The first decks of cards should ship in time for Christmas – so just in time to offend elderly relatives who think they’re playing a game about potholes. 

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