2009 – KINGS
Tired of arguments over what rules to play with for circle of death/kings, or waiting for someone to write up a list before we got to start a drinking game, I made a Circle of Death drinking game for myself in April 2009 that had the card rules printed on the card. Not only was this more convenient and saved setting up time, but it also made the game easier for new players and prevented all of those pointless discussions about what card did what. In November of the same year I made a revised version with better art. My circle of death game had the rules printed on each card, and card art on all face cards.
2010 – 4CHAN
Sometime in 2010, I came across the 4chan drinking game, and was intrigued by the idea of a vast variety of different rules, many of which were copies of existing drinking game rules, but had not until now been included all in one game. I had already made my Circle of Death game, and seeing this I decided to make something which worked as well as Circle of Death, but had the greater variety that 4chan had. I wanted to make an entirely new game rather then just use the 4chan game because I didn’t think the 4chan game was cohesive or consistent in terms of drinking levels and activity required. Many of the 4chan cards stated ridiculous rules such as “All females show their breasts” or “Finish everyone’s drinks” or “Teabag any player” or just stuff that my friends and a lot of others would find offensive.
2010 – BIRTH
I wanted a game that I could play with my friends that encouraged fun and drunken antics, it had to have commands that would be followed by anyone playing, ie nothing too extreme, and could scale depending on the level of familiarity that people had with each other. I wanted something that would involve drinking and make drinking fun, but nothing that would require excessive levels of consumption or be unfairly weighted toward certain players. I wanted something with a consistent design, rules, theme and mechanics.
Midway through 2010, I started working on my game. I called it Memeopoly, because it’s a game and the ‘opoly’ sound is pretty well associated with games and Meme because it was to be themed around internet memes, similar to the 4chan drinking game, because at that point I liked memes and generally I find the sudden explosion of counter culture ideas which spread rapidly to be extremely interesting and fun to dive into.
One of the main reasons I’ve always made sure there that the game is able to be freely downloaded and printed out is because I feel that it isn’t right to copyright concepts that are in the general collective conscious, or inspired by games like Circle of Death or the 4chan drinking game, or other sources.
When I first made this game, I created the files to be printed at any 6×4 photo printing place so that I could easily print the files myself and to release it as a free print and play game. My initial template contained two cards per 6×4 photo which could be laminated together with a backing to present a playable card.
The advantage of using this method was that it was relatively cheap to print the cards (A 6×4 print is around $0.12cents per photo), the print quality was extremely high (professional level finish compared to say a inkjet) and it was relatively easy. Along the way I also upgraded the design of the cards so that they looked more professional.
The disadvantage was only that each photo print required cutting twice, and that in order to protect the cards I had to laminate them by hand which took a lot of time to insert them into lamination pouches and laminate each one.
To save myself time with cutting the photos into card size, I found a local printery which cut about 100photos into card size in exchange for Chocolate. They had a minimum value order which my request for cutting services didn’t come anywhere near, but they didn’t mind running through my job in between other jobs if I bought them snacks.
I was using lamination pouches sized just a bit larger then the cards which meant that not only were the cards completely waterproof (good for a drinking game and in the spa) but also that even though the cards were not all exactly the same width, they had a uniform width and rounded corners thanks to the pouch.
I still have my first set of cards which I made this way because they can be used in the pool. However I had to stop using this method because I realized that if I actually wanted to sell sets of these, I was going to need to come up with a less labour intensive way to produce cards.
2011 – PUBLICATION
The next destination was finding a printer that would be able to print my cards in the low numbers I initially wanted to order and wouldn’t charge so much that no one would purchase the final decks when I tried to sell them.
I priced up various online card printing places such as Artscow but the price for a set of 52 individually pictured cards was prohibitively expensive. I emailed someone off Boardgame geeks who’s quoted price would definitely been within margin but when they received the draft images they said that they found the cards offensive and would not print them.
Finally I started looking closer to home and after about 3months of sporadically emailing random prints in New Zealand, I found someone that would publish the cards. They only had a $100 minimum order value and the price was such that I could make small profit on each deck sold – important considering the time I was sinking into this endeavor. As an added bonus they were able to do sheet lamination (unfortunately they couldn’t do fully encapsulated lamination which means the cards are now water resistant, not proof).
The next chapter in the story is about getting the cards ready to be professionally printed. I didn’t have adequate margins, I didn’t have any bleed zone and there were several communication difficulties in understanding exactly what the printery required from my image files. After 2weeks and about 4 different revisions of every single card I finally managed to get 52 cards with the correct margins ready for printing. Along the way I also updated the card symbols to be easier to read in terms of duration cards. See the before and after pictures on the right.
The final cards after receiving them from the printers:
HOT OFF THE PRESS
Now with the cards in hand I could actually start selling them! I sold a couple of sets to friends, and at a friend’s stall at Armageddon (a New Zealand Comic/Anime Convention) I managed to sell six copies to random strangers with the cards just rubber banded together and a direction for my new customers to download the rules pdf from my homepage.
The next step was to look at what I could do for packaging the cards. This isn’t something most people think about, but usually when you package a product, you’re looking at lots of 1000′s, a lot of places have a minimum order quantity of 5000 before they’ll do a print run. Obviously I wasn’t ready to go to that stage of production when I had no financial funding or partners, so my next step was to look at what I could arrange myself, true kiwi DIY stlye. I purchased a whole bunch of zip bags and made custom inserts for these bages with the final result what you can see on the side. Obviously it wasn’t the most professional presentation, but it was an improvement over what I had, which was the main thing.
For the rest of 2011, I continued to sell decks of cards on Trademe (New Zealand’s version of Ebay), at Armageddon Pulp Expo and to friends and friends of friends as well as fans on the facebook page.
This was quite a big year in that I took the time to overhaul the card template, worked on unifying the branding on the game and implementing a consistent style for all content related to Memeopoly. We got our website up and running and combined all of our online content into once place. The other big thing that happened this year was that Mightyape agreed to start stocking the game and became the first retailer to carry Memeopoly on the shelves. I made headway with packaging and managed to find a cardboard manufacturing plant with suitable sized boxes for the game’s 2nd attempt at retail packaging.
Where to from here? Well I want to aim to do some bigger print runs, I want to get more shops stocking the game and get the word-of-mouth going that this game is out there and how fun it is. In the long term, I plan to investigate doing some of those BIG print runs and getting some packing made and printed specifically for this game. I also want to finally get Deck C released.