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It's a small step for gameplayingkind, but a giant step for a game company. No, make that a giant step for gameplayingkind as well.

Major FUN-Award-winning Out of the Box Publishing, makers of the Major FUN-Award-winning card game Apples to Apples, has launched a product/service allowing players to extend their Apples-to-Apples game system by creating their own, customized cards. Now, we're not talking about offering some blank cards that people can write on, but rather an online service that allows you to create cards that look and feel almost exactly like the "official," manufacturer-approved cards.

This is close to unprecedented in field of commercial gaming. Bordering on capitalistic blasphemy. Giving players the tools to alter and personalize a game is almost like telling people that they know enough to make a game better, all by themselves, without the vasty expertise of professional game designers. Close to unprecedented, because the game already includes a few blank cards that players can write on or make up on the fly. Bordering, because in order to take full advantage of the opportunity, you will need to spend another $6.00 to get the five sheets of eight-per-page, pre-printed, micro-perforated, laser- or inkjet-printer-compatible cards.

This Customizable Cards concept is not just precedent-setting, more importantly, it's fun. It's fun to think up cards that include family members and friends, neighbors and coworkers, local politicians and personal nemeses. It's even more fun when you see the expression on people's faces when they first discover themselves literally part of the game. Naturally, you can include anyone and anything you can imagine: grandma's spaghetti, dad's first car, the neighbor's noisy dog. If you're playing for more than fun - say, you're a therapist or educator - you can create cards that evoke or provoke, test or exercise. And, if you're so minded, preparing for a game with like-minded so-and-sos, you can include the unmentionable.

The online tool works well, is easy to understand, and provides access to extensive libraries of cards that other users, and the manufacturers themselves, have created. If you haven't bought Apples to Apples yet, the MyCard concept alone should prove incentive enough.

As Major Fun, I find Out-of-the-Box's Customizable Cards to be a significant victory for us all.




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