Bhargav ArimilliLife & Arts Editor
A UTD alum’s efforts to bring a new party game called “Bad Actors” to the college scene may become a reality this fall thanks to an upcoming Kickstarter campaign.
“We play a lot of party games and what we noticed is that some of the more popular games are fun but they’re a little bit predictable,” said Evan Carr, UTD alumnus and co-creator of the game. “‘Bad Actors’ is a game where you have the opportunity to really bring the creativity and bring the fun through the game itself.”
Larry Leon, co-creator and Carr’s business partner, said the level of player involvement in “Bad Actors” sets the game apart from others.
“A lot of the games today — and I’m certainly not disparaging any of the games — (come) with pre-answered questions, you’re picking the one you think is the funniest,” he said. “Ours is more of an improv situation where you play a character and you answer the question as if you’re that character.”
A few years ago, Leon came up with an idea for a party game called “Crowned,” centered around stereotypical beauty pageant questions. “Crowned,” through several rounds of research and iterative design, gradually evolved into “Bad Actors.”
“One of the funniest things in beauty pageants is these questions like, ‘What do you think about world peace?’” Leon said. “I created a whole collection of pageants for men and women — Mr. Macho or Motorcycle Mom or whatever it is — and they were going to answer questions as if they were contestants in these various pageants.”
Leon met Carr through a men’s support group and pitched the idea to him. After initial research, they realized their target demographic — primarily college-aged men — didn’t have an affinity for beauty pageants. In August 2016, Carr and Leon scrapped the pageant idea and decided to focus on the mechanics of questions, characters and voting and renamed the game to “Bad Actors.” Since then, they’ve created nearly 15 prototypes and tested their prototypes using different focus groups.
“I’ve actually connected with a couple of my fraternity brothers on campus who have given some really great feedback on the game,” Carr said. “The process was really just constant iteration. Putting together a first prototype, playing it, getting feedback and constantly coming up with different prototypes.”
Leon noted that one of the biggest challenges they faced during development was cementing the specifics of gameplay, such as the voting mechanisms or the way in which cards are drawn. Rather than limit the types of gameplay, Carr and Leon decided to leave the mechanics of “Bad Actors” sufficiently open-ended.
“You can play (the game) so many different ways — the mechanic is super flexible,” Carr said. “And that’s great because when we’re shipping the game, we’re recommending a bunch of alternate game styles that you can play a little differently.”
In “Bad Actors,” one player draws from a stack of character cards. An adjacent player then draws three cards from a stack of questions and chooses the funniest question. The first player then must answer the question while in character. The rest of the players give a rating of one to five based on the first player’s performance, and the player with the highest cumulative ratings wins.
With the “Bad Actors” campaign set to launch in a couple of weeks, Carr and Leon are now gearing up for manufacturing and distribution.
“The thing that we’re really doing right now is making sure we’ve done the right amount of planning and that we’ve … prepared all the necessary things like shipping and logistics,” Carr said. “How do you manufacture something on the other side of the world in China (and) reliably deliver it to people on four different continents? We want to make sure that our backers get the best experience and get the best product.”
The Kickstarter campaign will go live on July 11 for a 30-day period. Carr and Leon hope to raise $11,000 to cover manufacturing and shipping costs. At present, backers who contribute $25 to the campaign will receive a deck of “Bad Actors” cards. If the campaign is successful, shipments will start in October.