Interview by Bobby Blackwolf

Conventional Improv's "Cards Against Kanto" Releases Today - Interview with Jon Bressler

Conventional Improv's "Cards Against Kanto" Releases Today - Interview with Jon Bressler

Cards Against Humanity is considered a "party game for horrible people" - combining the gameplay of Apples to Apples with Mad Libs, where every card is the Adolf Hitler or Hellen Keller card. What began as a Kickstarter project has exploded into four official expansions and countless other card sets - enough that they were able to sell what amounted to literally being just a box with their logo on it so people could store all of their cards.

If those cards aren't enough, though, the game is licensed under Creative Commons, and anyone can make expansions for it. That's what Jon Bressler and his team at Conventional Improv did to great success. What began as a panel for conventions turned viral when a Doctor Who themed expansion was noticed by a large site, and now they're back to take on Pokemon.

I chatted with Jon Bressler about today's release of Cards Against Kanto, his past successes, and the future of Conventional Improv.

What is Conventional Improv? What types of panels have you done, and at what conventions have they been presented?

Conventional Improv started in 2009 simply doing game show panels. We've since done panels involving comedy and a comedy panel involving Cards Against Humanity, where Cards Against Gallifrey was played at the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary celebration in our home city of Portland, OR. We still do game show panels, and we will be doing a fan version of @midnight later on this year. We've also appeared at Sakura-Con in Seattle, WA, Kumoricon in Portland, OR, and Newcon PDX in Portland. We're prepping for a Whose Line panel at Emerald City Comic Con later on this month. Additionally, we'll be heading into a new state to appear at a convention in May.

What prompted you to start doing Cards Against Humanity expansions?

We had a group of people hanging out and playing CAH. Not all of us were playing, and the folks who weren't were still getting a kick out of the game. We noticed that there was a fan expansion out that was anime based, and we wanted to expand on that, so we crowdsourced card ideas from the Sakura-Con community, and Cards Against Con was born.

We started doing non-convention based expansions due to the huge and unexpected popularity of Cards Against Gallifrey. Cards Against Kanto will be expansion #2, and we have a lot more planned.

How do you determine what the black and white cards are?

Honestly, a lot of research. Memes are always a great source of both black and white cards. For Cards Against Kanto, Twitch Plays Pokemon was a small inspiration. I also watch select episodes of the anime series to come up with some comedic white cards. A lot of our staff also help contribute ideas and we can get to a 99 or 108 card set pretty easily.

Your Doctor Who themed expansion "Cards Against Gallifrey" recently went viral. What was that day like for you and the CI team?

It's funny, we didn't really think after we did this in November it was going to get that big. We were happy that it hit 300 downloads. I had a former co-worker post a link to the big article on about it late one night, and it went viral the next day. I was staggered it hit 1000 downloads, and an extra zero was added the next day. I was humbled that something we all worked hard on got that huge.

It also felt awesome to see friends posting about it on social media linking from people I didn't even know!

What other expansions have you done, and how did they go over with people?

We've offered cards we've used in panel shows, and those usually got several dozen downloads. Cards Against Kanto is the second fandom set we've made, and the first that we've not presented at a convention.

Have you heard from the Cards Against Humanity folks, or from any of the folks you have done expansions about?

I have not, but since we are doing our best to respect CAH's Creative Commons license, I don't think they've had a problem with it. I popped into Gallifrey One while it was going and saw a group of people playing, which was pretty awesome.

I have had Grant Imahara from MythBusters tweet about CAG, which was pretty awesome.

Your new pack is "Cards Against Kanto" - why Pokemon, why now?

Pokemon is pretty universally acclaimed by a lot of people in a lot of age groups. It's been around for 16 years, and a lot of those kids who grew up on it, well, grew up. There's also so much to pull from the games and anime that in all honesty it was hard to cut some of the white cards we had. Maybe a Cards Against Johto is in the works? Who knows :)

Are you worried there might be any repercussions from Nintendo, considering how not-kid-friendly CAH is?

I don't think there will be. BBC hasn't gotten a hold of us with CAG, I doubt Nintendo will come after us. If they do, we will be happy to take the set down.

Anarchy or Democracy?

Oh lord. I honestly couldn't take TPP for more than a couple minutes at a time, given how much the Start Button was hit. I'd have to pick democracy though, if you're putting a Hyper Beam to my head.

What's your next expansion and future plans for CI?

We're in the planning stages, but boy, I can tell you our next fan expansion is going to be magical. Right now, we're going to be continuing appearing at conventions, and we are brainstorming some YouTube and other content for the fans. We're all really excited about the future!

You can download Cards Against Kanto free of charge here.

Cards Against Gallifrey is available free of charge here.

Bobby Blackwolf is the host of The Bobby Blackwolf Show on the VOG Network, lead developer of the website, and lead GM for VOG: The Game. Follow him on Twitter at @BobbyBlackwolf

Interview by - 3/14/2014 10:44 AM1429 views


Log in to add your own voice and receive points by leaving good comments other users like!