“Freakin’ Apples to Apples, man. I hate that game! I mean, you’re sitting there, you’re playing your cards right, you think, ‘hey, yeah, this makes sense, it’s pretty clever,’ you’re trying, God help you you’re actually trying, and then someone says ‘oh yeah, Winston Churchill, that’s funny, we were talking about him earlier, that wins!’ Freakin’ Apples to Apples.”
Apples To Apples is an odd duck. I mean, is it really a game? It certainly has the trappings of a game; it has players, rules, points, and a winner. But does it count as a game, let alone a good game? Do your choices matter? Does the fact that it’s mostly arbitrary matter? Let’s chat about this old friend of ours.
My gaming friends revile Apples to Apples. The idea of playing it is laughable, and the suggestion of it is never used sincerely; it’s always a joke, on par with “hey guys! Candy Land!”
I have fond memories of Apples to Apples from college. So I always feel the need to defend it when it comes up as the gaming pariah. “What other game fits a dozen people?” “You’re playing it wrong, you gotta play to the judge at the time.” “It’s better when the judge describes why each card wins and loses.” Apples to Apples is a college friend that I spent many hours partying with, and I hate to see him get talked down on when I’m out with people who think they’re too good for him anymore. And it makes me a bit of a hypocrite.
See, I haven’t spoken to Apples in years. He’s not my Facebook friend, he’s never invited to my parties, and I had to double check to see if he was still in my apartment. Because honestly, I don’t like him all that much. He’s kind of a dick. He never grew up, and he’s a bad influence on my other friends. Yes, he allows 10 or more people to hang out and share an experience. But what experience? Get drunk and laugh at non-sequiturs? The choices you get to make are bogus, and it reinforces bad habits. Forgive me for being high and mighty, but I don’t like it when people bring that loose, free-wheeling “have fun, don’t worry” mindset to the table. It betrays the rest of us who take the game seriously, and then tries to make us feel like outcasts for it. Settlers of Catan was the shy but well-spoken and genuinely interesting person, but he only worked in small crowds. Apples is the big bad brosef who can’t really function unless he’s partying with a huge group, and that group doesn’t hang out with nerds. It’s like getting a noogie from a game (and no joke, I have wounded myself on that heavy, awkward wooden box with the lid that always slides open).
A2A is the predecessor of Cards Against Humanity. At first glance I didn’t give this game a lot of credit. It takes after its old man a lot, but instead of matching nouns to verbs, you fill in the blanks of an often disturbing card (e.g. when I’m feeling down I can always masturbate to_______) with something equally disturbing (a big pile of dead dogs). We had a party, and someone brought him along. He was, of course, the life of the party, and everyone had a lot of fun hanging with him. Katie said we should buy a copy. My feathers ruffled.
I would be a hypocrite, a betrayer to my own philosophy, if I were to deride Apples to Apples and his kin. People played this game, they had a good time. Any game good. And I have to appreciate where CaH is coming from. It takes the unspoken rule that A2A should be silly, and simply makes it all silly. If everything is ridiculous, then nothing is, and every answer is valid, and everything is simply insane and joyous. But it’s still the kind of game that seeks to stuff my European friends in a locker.
You kids can play what you want. You’re smart, you know what you like. But all I ask is that you keep an open mind. Really think about what your games are teaching you, and if they’re really worth your time. I don’t want you missing out on some worthwhile friendships, or falling in with the wrong crowd, because you were too scared to stand up for what you believe in.