Space Elections and Improv: An Interview with Andrew Nerger of Road to Infamy Games | Casual Game Revolution

Space Elections and Improv: An Interview with Andrew Nerger of Road to Infamy Games

Galactic Debate

Politics. In this heated election season, it's easy to make enemies. But Andrew Nerger and the rest of the team at Road to Infamy Games have turned political debates upside down — instead of making enemies, you can make friends by sharing an evening of fun, improvised humor by debating nonsensical topics afflicting our galaxy. Galactic Debate caught our attention on Kickstarter, so we reached out to the publisher to find out more.

CGR: Thanks for joining us, Andrew. Could you tell us about your history in gaming and your gaming preferences?

Andrew Nerger: My exposure to gaming started a decade ago in high school when I joined a weekly Dungeons & Dragons group run by my co-designer and partner Jeff Chin. We soon moved on to light card games like Apples to Apples and later Euros starting with Catan (still Jeff’s favorite board game). In general, we enjoy playing light/medium strategy games and any type of party game that can hold the attention of 8+ people.

CGR: How did you decide to design and publish games? Could you tell us more about the types of games you publish?

AN: I didn’t realize it until much later, but Jeff and I have been creating games for quite some time. In high school, we enjoyed playing Apples to Apples when it first came out, but the game eventually became stale and our group of friends decided to spice it up by making our own R-rated version written out on notecards. Years later we came across Cards Against Humanity and thought, “wait a second…didn’t we make this game years ago?” Still, designing games seriously didn’t happen until after college. We finished running a Hunger Games themed online RPG with friends for the 3rd consecutive year and began spit balling ideas on how it would work as a card game. Over the course of a year designing the concept it eventually morphed into Road to Infamy, our first Kickstarter game.

Because we love playing a wide spectrum of games we enjoy challenging ourselves to design all kinds of board games. Our first board game, Road to Infamy, was a 2-4 player strategic bidding game with take-that mechanics, very cut throat. Galactic Debate, our second game, is a 3-8 player party game focused around story telling. Where I think we excel is realizing the pitfalls of a given game genre and spending time trying to figure out how to get rid of or minimize those annoyances. We really enjoy boiling a game down to its core mechanic and finding ways to make it more approachable without losing any of the strategy or charm.

Galactic Debate Components

CGR: Galactic Debate seems like an ideal game to add some humor during an ultra-heated election season. Could you tell us more about it?

AN: We’ve always enjoyed playing improv games and having heated late-night debates on everything under the sun, so the idea developed pretty naturally. I think almost everyone enjoys arguing, but nobody wants to get into a confrontation with friends or family. When debating, players are actually taking on the role of Galactic Candidates like General Mindu of the proud warrior race, so feelings aren’t hurt when players try to debase one another. Everyone realizes they’re playing a role.

However, the game really shines as an avenue for creative storytelling. One of the rules is that anything said during a debate is automatically true. This means that players have to find creative ways to twist one another’s arguments. If a player says “Robots create pollution, we need to get rid of them.” the other player can say, “The pollution my opponent is referring to is actually cheddar cheese, which is delicious!” Debate topics and arguments are pretty absurd, which always leads to some very humorous moments.

It’s also been eye-opening to see how the debate strategies in Galactic Debate can also be seen in the general election. Just like in the presidential debates, players are trying to discredit opponents and pander to other players at the table to win votes. It’s definitely changed the way I watch debates now.

CGR: I love the quality of the game's artwork and campaign video. Could you explain a bit about the creative process for both of these?

AN: Jeff handles all the graphic design and media, so he really deserves all the credit. We wanted to make the cards visually depict the type of a playful and fun atmosphere, so players quickly understood what they were in for. Step one was figuring out what information each card needed, and then how best to lay it out on the card so that players understood how the text affected mechanics almost inherently. We also hired a long-time friend, Jordan Peters, to do the candidate and alien race illustrations. He spent months drawing and fine tuning the art, and it looks incredible. As for the video, Jeff knocked it out of the park, bringing to life the theme of the game and setting up the premise of the game. It was about trying to put as much information into a 2-minute video as possible without overloading the viewer. Our friends Billy and Mandy did the debates for the video, they are both great improv actors who run a monthly event called the Slurring Bee in Chicago.

CGR: Do you have any games coming down the pipeline? We would love a sneak peek at what's in store for the future.

AN: We have a couple of games in the pipeline. We’re taking our time with the more strategic games we have to make sure they’re well developed and balanced, but a fun one we look forward to putting out is called “I drink when I…”. It is a party game where players are given cards like “… when I sit down.” Whenever a player does an action on the card other party goers must tell them they have to drink. The goal of the game is to figure out why you’re drinking.

Here’s some early concept art:


(End of interview.)

If you're interested in Galactic Debate, be sure to check out the Kickstarter campaign.