Why On Earth Do I Want To Make A Creepy Tabletop Game?


What I picture when I imagine other creators getting ideas:

"I have performed an assessment of my likes and dislikes and taken into consideration my previous works. Although I don't feel a need for my past successes to slavishly dictate my future inventions, it's important to at least give a nod to my personal brand and the things I know my fans will enjoy."

What happens when I let loose the chaotic demons of my subconscious:

"I should work on a new story. But first let me spend three hours obsessing over the really strange dream I just had. And not cool-strange like flying robot dinosaurs conquering cloud cities, but weird-strange like taking a pottery class in my underwear but the clay keeps turning into ice cream and now I'm late for my college graduation. You know, what the world really needs is a digital post-modern re-interpretation of The Garden of Earthly Delights played as an anti-game on a 19th century typewriter. Squirrel!"

My hidden mind is literally the dog from Up.

Exhibit A - the triggers for recent projects, in no particular order:

  • Weird dream
  • Really weird dream
  • Last-minute Valentine's Day present
  • Whiny Reddit thread
  • "You know what sucks about video games? You have to use your eyes."
  • Weird dream

I've bravely opened up the putrid vision pit so I can officially brainstorm new game ideas. Frenetic impulsivity of my creative processes be damned!

It all started with my interest in making a holiday game pack. Emerson Matsuuchi of Nazca Games rightly warned me about designing around holidays (although Tricks & Treats is adorable and you should definitely buy it right now). Heartcatcher was inspired by Valentine's Day, and can certainly be marketed as a Valentine's Day game, but is not limited by that appeal.

I settled on the concept of a series of games that are "holiday-adjacent," seeking seeds of inspiration from our best-known celebrations rather than rigid themes. And so it was that the "idea" for a new tabletop game glommed itself up from the dregs of my imagination and thrust itself into the brash light of my conscious mind.

Design a creepy card game that uses fear as a mechanic, turning the players' minds against them and making them question their every move!

The strange thing is, I don't even LIKE horror. Even Dr. Who is borderline too scary for my tastes (though, to be fair, my friend started me off on Blink and the gas-mask "Mummy" episodes).

Because of this, I'm not even sure what the creepy tabletop game genre looks like. Naturally, I turned to Twitter to learn more from the expert tabletop community. I wanted to find out if there are other really creepy games out there - not just games with horror themes, like zombies or ghosts, but games that are actually scary to play.

Great success! It appears that there's space for such a game - if only I can figure out what the mechanics will be, to really invoke that feeling of creepiness I'm going for. I have a hunch that something akin to the Google Deep Dream or the Uncanny Valley will come into play. I've created a Pinterest board for the idea, so hopefully mechanic ideas will flow from there. Feel free to share your thoughts below!