Cards Against Humanity is a card game that embraces awkwardness and abandons civility. The game is a delightfully depraved version of Apples To Apples that the company describes as a “party game for horrible people.” As avid players, The Noun Project team is happy to be counted among these horrible people. Recently, the Cards Against Humanity designer, Emily Haasch, made some icons based on the game’s cards. We spoke with Emily to learn more about how this icon collection came to be and learn about the relationship between design and games.
The Noun Project: Thanks for meeting up with us, Emily. To start, describe the Cards Against Humanity for the people who don’t know about it.
Cards Against Humanity: Cards Against Humanity was created by eight friends from high school for a New Year’s party. It was a big hit with their friends, so they created a site where people could download and print the card game for free. In 2011, they crowdfunded a professional quality version of the game through Kickstarter. Since then, we’ve released a few expansion packs. We’re also really involved in the gaming community. We partner with other game designers and support their projects, like Werewolf, Samari Gunn and Ridiculous Fishing. And, part of our office is a co-working space where we rent desks to all creative friends of ours, including a photographer, some writers, illustrators, and other designers.
TNP: What do you look for in games that you’re going to support?
CAH: We look for something that’s unique. But, we also want something that’s playable and can appeal to many different people. The beauty of Cards Against Humanity is that it’s not really a gamer’s game - it’s something that everyone can play. It’s played by fraternity guys and moms and dads and professional young people - this diversity is very rare in the gaming world.
TNP: From a designer’s perspective, tell us about the overlap you see between design and games.
CAH: There’s a lot of UX involved in games. And, there’s an emphasis on storytelling in games. These things inform the player how they’re going to navigate their way through whatever experience they’re about to have. There are a lot of interactive design principles involved.
TNP: What inspired Cards Against Humanity’s visual design?
CAH: It’s intentionally very minimalist, which is kinda crazy for the gaming world. We refer to the aesthetic as The Swiss Design Dungeon™. It was a reaction against the traditional, illustrative style that you see a lot in games. We created something very simple and very direct that lets people use their own sick, twisted imaginations to create the imagery.
TNP: How did the idea come about to create icons based on Cards Against Humanity cards?
CAH: It came about recently when we were thinking of ways to refresh what we were doing. We created these little buttons and patches that we could give away at conventions and I had this idea of putting icons inspired by popular cards on these products. Iconography fits really well within The Swiss Design Dungeon™. As I was designing the icons, I thought, “What if I submit these ridiculous icons to The Noun Project?” I didn’t know if you would accept them because our game is not exactly family friendly.
TNP: We love them. Plus, they’re really expanding the world’s visual language.
CAH: Yeah, it’s true. Now, when somebody out there needs a Falcon With A Cap icon or Jazz Hands icon, they’ll be able to find it.
TNP: How did you go about designing these icons?
CAH: I had to pick ones that were relatively visual. There are some cards that can’t be visualized and others that you just don’t want to visualize because they’re so…sick and depraved. Some of the cards are based off of crazy metaphors and it took a couple sketches to get through. But others, like Blood Squirting Lizard, are pretty direct.
TNP: Did you look for inspiration for the icon style?
CAH: No. I don’t want to be influenced stylistically. I wanted to contribute a different style of iconography to The Noun Project.
TNP: What advice do you have for other folks designing icons?
CAH: Represent something unique in your icons. Go beyond the standard UI set. The world is more than just UI icons. I’ve done this in my own icon designs and it makes things interesting for you. It’s also good to keep your guidelines simple. You want to create something that will make an impact whether it’s very small or very big.
TNP: However hilariously offensive that impact may be. So, what’s next for Cards Against Humanity?
CAH: We’re in the midst of releasing some more expansion packs. I’ll be working on finishing some games for our Tabletop Deathmatch Contest and redesigning the main site. We’re always working on partnerships with other game makers. There will be a lot of interesting stuff coming in the next few months.
You can download icons from Cards Against Humanity Collection at http://www.thenounproject.com/cah
To learn more about Cards Against Humanity, visit http://cardsagainsthumanity.com
More of Emily Haasch’s work can be found on her website, http://www.emilyhaasch.com