Kickstarter game aims to be counterpoint to Cards Against Humanity

Silver Linings Games has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new card game called Sway: A Game of Debate & Silver Linings.

Why should you care?

Well, Sway has the belly aching hilarity of games like Cards Against Humanity, but with a strikingly different feel. The creators have deliberately designed a game and a game company that provide laughter, connection and enjoyment but not by making players uncomfortable with comedy at the expense of others.

If that video wasn’t enough, I present to you the top reasons we should all be clamoring to get our hands on Sway.

(Full disclosure: My sister, Rachael Kauffung, is COO and Doer of Things at Silver Linings Games).

It’s the counterpoint to Cards Against Humanity

With the novelty of Cards Against Humanity wearing off, people are craving a game that provides laughter and fun but without making them feel like horrible people. Sway does just that. It sets players up to release their own brand of humor by pairing two radically different topics in a head to head debate. Players work to convince a judge that their topic (one of 465 topics included with the game) is the best, but must do so while only focusing on the positive. Sometimes this is an easy task, with cards like “peanut butter” and “the invention of beer.” Other times it forces players to find the silver lining with topics like “getting pooped on by a bird,” “The DMV,” and “passing a kidney stone.” Challenge cards completed by both players during their argument add to the fun and provide another way to earn points; examples include, “incorporate animal noises,” “speak in a Scottish accent,” and “kick like a Rockette.”

“We recognized the cultural shift happening in the gaming space. We read about it, heard it from friends, and felt it ourselves as players. We wanted a game that was fast paced and hilarious, but did not make us feel bad about ourselves or the jokes we were making. There was a hole in the market for games that were genuinely funny with a deliberately positive tone” said co-founder and CEO Margaret Marshall.

You don’t know who the judge will be

Another unique feature of Sway is that the judge is not assigned until after the players complete their debate. This prevents them from tailoring their argument to the judge, instead requiring them to craft an argument that they believe will appeal to all players. It also strengthens the feeling of connection in the group since everyone is paying attention.

“Part of what people love about judging games is the opportunity to win throughout the game – but most of those games never ask you to actually argue your case. This is often the most fun part of games like CAH and Apples to Apples, so we thought why not make it the whole point of the game. It’s amazing how that combined with choosing the judge after the debates totally changes the interaction. People are super engaged when they play Sway and they surprise you with how funny and smart they are,” said Rachael Kauffung, COO and Doer of Things at Silver Linings Games.

It brings people together

Sway is an inclusive game that can be enjoyed by just about anyone. Whether one is snarky and sarcastic or positive and lighthearted, Sway is appealing. Unlike other popular card games, such as Cards Against Humanity, Sway doesn’t write the jokes for you. It requires thought and creativity from the players, making it a game with long lasting fun. It brings out sides of your friends and family that you have never seen before. Imagine hearing your grandmother explaining the merits of “the birth of Mike Tyson” while doing yoga poses.

Case in point: here I am acting a fool on social media while I #playsway.

Kickstarter game aims to be counterpoint to Cards Against Humanity

Teacher thankful for UC students and St. Vincent De Paul

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William Barnett, Ph.D., sits in a makeshift waiting room outside an office turned medical exam room, his red v-neck sweater showing slight tears around both shoulder seams.

On the second floor of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Bank Street facility in Cincinnati’s West End, this English and literature scholar with decades of teaching experience waits. He shares stories from his 67-year life freely. A smile nearly always hovers at the edge of his mouth. Nearly always.

But since his wife died 10 years ago, Barnett’s life has been filled with his own health crises. He lost his insurance and his regular job, and now makes regular treks to find free healthcare options and pharmacies to access life-sustaining medications he needs.

Barnett travels 45 minutes to get to Bank Street, where he visits the food pantry, the free pharmacy and UC Open School, a student-led initiative that provides medical screenings to St. Vincent de Paul clients.

Barnett earned his doctorate from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in the early 1970s, then taught English and literature at Austin Peay State University for 17 years. Now he works as a substitute teacher for six different school districts in Clermont County.

Despite traveling farther than most to get to St. Vincent de Paul and UC Open School, he sees the trip as an opportunity rather than a chore.

Students learn lessons of compassion

“I think they do a marvelous job,” Barnett said of the student volunteers who come from disciplines as diverse as medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, physical therapy and nursing. “I’ve been very impressed with all of the work that they do.”

He also speaks highly of the staff at St. Vincent de Paul who help him with medications.

“The pharmacy people treat me better than I ever got treated when I had private insurance during my teaching career,” he said. “They’re very professional and very concerned.”

Nearly every Saturday, students at the UC Open School health clinic screen people for various health conditions with the goal of improving their lives by decreasing emergency room visits and increasing health knowledge

Students who volunteer at UC Open School work in teams to check patients’ blood pressures and blood sugar levels. They offer flu and pneumonia vaccines under the supervision of UC Open School professors. Whenever possible, they start conversations about changing unhealthy habits and improving overall quality of life.

Luke Lewis, a second-year medical student and director of UC Open School’s steering committee, lists services offered in conjunction with St. Vincent de Paul:

  • Oral health screenings
  • A reduced price/free pharmacy
  • Food pantry
  • Eye screenings
  • HIV screenings
  • Medical insurance enrollment assistance

Barnett takes advantage of as many services as possible because they help him stay on top of his health. The patient who has spent his life educating others well understands that knowledge is power.

A gentleman and a scholar

Barnett has spent his life learning and building on his aptitude for the English language. As a college student at Davidson College in North Carolina during the early days of desegregation, he admired Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison. He lobbied to get an African American literature class added to class offerings as a professor at Austin Peay—it was a class he felt strongly about and knew needed to be taught.

“There was no African Literature class at Davidson when I was there,” Barnett said. “It was a very conservative, Southern curriculum.”

His teaching experience stretches outside of college campuses, though. He taught a variety of English classes at a private prep high school and spent time at a community college before beginning his current stint as a substitute teacher.

Barnett was married to Myra, also a teacher, for 23 years. They met while he was teaching at Austin Peay and he followed her to Jacksonville, Florida and Kentucky so they could share in each other’s teaching careers.

But Myra’s health started to fail. After struggling with severe diabetes and congestive heart failure, she ended up in hospice and died in 2004. He said he misses her every day.

After her death, Barnett had a massive heart attack. A high-school friend who was working on his Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati came to pray with him at the hospital every day after his heart surgeries. When Barnett recovered, he helped his friend finish his dissertation and his friend graduated within a year.

Barnett is quick to point out that everyone—sometimes those you least expect—needs help sometimes.

“I thank God for them every day,” Barnett said of St. Vincent de Paul and UC Open School. “All the people there; the people in pharmacy, the people in the clinic, they do wonderful work.”

Teacher thankful for UC students and St. Vincent De Paul