After years of adventure, Jason Anarchy has decided that it’s finally time to grow up. The Ontario-based Game Designer and creator of Haiku Warrior and the Drinking Quest series recently launched the Kickstarter campaign for Pretending to Grownup, a new tabletop comedy game about the trials and tribulations of adulthood. Pretending to Grownup features original artwork from Megan McKay, the creator of Doodle for Food, and forces players to manage Money, Energy, and Time in order to accomplish common grownup tasks.
Fortunately for Anarchy, it turns out that there are a lot of people who feel similarly ambivalent about adulthood. Pretending to Grownup passed its $6,000 funding goal mere hours after launching on Kickstarter and it has since crossed the $100,000 threshold with more than two weeks remaining in the campaign. We spoke with Anarchy about the game and the challenges of crowd funding, as well as his life at comic conventions and why so many adults end up feeling like imposters.
Dork Shelf: How did you come up with the concept for Pretending to Grownup?
Jason Anarchy: I discovered Megan’s comic, Doodle for Food, and I really wanted to make a funny game that used that art style. I thought about it for a while, came up with the grownup concept, pitched it to Megan, and here we are!
DS: Your game was fully funded and you cleared all of your initial stretch goals on day one. Does it get rid of some of the stress knowing that your game was funded so quickly?
JA: Absolutely. This has been the hardest I’ve worked on a Kickstarter, but easily the most fun. Running a Kickstarter can be really stressful because of that “What if I don’t hit my goal?” feeling.
DS: How does that differ from your prior experiences with Kickstarter?
JA: My last game (Drinking Quest: Journey into Draught) was funded in two days so that was another lower stress campaign. I had done three crowd funded games before that and until you hit your goal you don’t think about anything else.
This campaign is my first attempt at a mainstream game. My prior six games were all really niche Role Playing Games. It’s a little different promoting a game with general appeal. I feel like I’m dealing with a lot of new people outside of the RPG crowd and it’s exciting.
DS: Drinking Quest and Haiku Warrior were quite different in tone but the gameplay was similar. How does the gameplay in Pretending to Grownup differ mechanically from your previous games?
JA: It’s a totally new system from scratch. I didn’t base it on anything in particular but I wanted to have players battling to be the most grownup (flawed logic, right?). From there, I wanted Time, Energy, and Money scores because those are a grownup’s only three resources.
It had to be casual and easy to learn. I’m not fond of making games that can take a whole night to learn without actually playing. When it comes to tabletop games, I consider myself a hardcore casual.
DS: How important is it to challenge yourself as a developer?
JA: Really important! The day I stop working harder than the next designer is the day that the next designer will take my place. It’s an honour to be able to be funny for a living and I want to keep that privilege.
DS: You spend a lot of time on the road at conventions. Does the novelty start to wear off after a while? Do you ever wish that you got to spend more time at home?
JA: Once in a while I get homesick and I’m always physically exhausted from the hours, but nearly every show ends up being a blast. There are so many positive, interesting people and they are my kind of people (nerds).
DS: What’s your favourite thing about the convention circuit?
JA: Interacting with people I consider personal heroes. Sometimes it’s a quick chat. Sometimes it’s a panel. Sometimes you play a game of something. Other professionally funny people always interest me.
DS: On your other games, you’ve worked with many different artists. Why did you want to work exclusively with Megan McKay on Pretending to Grownup?
JA: Her style has a likeable “derpiness” that I think is relatable. It embodies the spirit of Pretending to Grownup really well!
DS: How does the art style contribute to the overall tone of a game?
JA: In this particular case, it lets them know they’re allowed to laugh. With some of my past games, my humour was really dry and if you weren’t paying attention you might not know that certain things were a joke. That style of humour will make half the audience laugh twice as much while the rest just don’t notice it.
DS: What’s the most ‘grownup’ thing you’ve ever done, and were you pretending at the time?
JA: Any time I’ve ever had to make an appointment with someone at a bank. It’s such a humourless setting. But yes, I pretend like I do that stuff all the time.
DS: Why do so many adults feel like imposters?
JA: I think it’s a generational thing. We’re one of the first adult generations that really had our childhood sold back to us. Maybe it’s always been there, but we’re the first generation that’s been able to communicate about it?
DS: What’s your favourite card in the game?
JA: Most of the cards in the game are mundane grownup activities like “Do Your Taxes,” “Mow the Lawn,” or “Awkward Baby Hold,” but then there are a few cards featuring a silly creature of Megan’s called a Unipegasaurus (half unicorn, half pegasus, half dinosaur).
Anyway, the Unipegasaurus is always getting into trouble. Sometimes he’s playing basketball. Sometimes he’s in space. Sometimes he’s surfing while listening to a boombox. And sometimes he’s a sandwich.
Sandwich Unipegasaurus is my favourite card in the game.
DS: Do any of the cards feature milestones that you’re yet to accomplish? Will you ever stop pretending? What are your goals for your future life as an adult?
JA: I’ve never built a deck but I’m confident I would hate it.
If I can continue being funny for a living and paying for my modest grownup life, then I think I’ve achieved my goals!