A new expansion pack aims to tailor the popular card game Cards Against Humanity to the Duke community. 

Sophomore Kelsey Graywill’s new game Cranes Assist Humilitya parody expansion pack of Cards Against Humanity, has attracted the attention of many Duke students. Although the game began as a joke between friends, it has expanded into a manufactured card deck that Graywill now produces. 

“We went with the name of cranes because of all the construction on campus," Graywill said. "The game is geared towards a college audience. A lot of the cards are applicable to Duke and can be modified to fit another university.”

Unlike a traditional Cards Against Humanity game—in which players are prompted by an open statement—the black cards in Graywill's adaptation pertain specifically to Duke, and feature blanks such as "Why am I STINFing my class?", "What made me transfer out of Pratt" and "____for LDOC."

In both Cards Against Humanity and the new expansion pack, white cards are placed in a pile in response to the black prompt cards. White cards in Cranes Assist Humility include familiar subjects of jokes shared among Duke students—such as "the third registration window," "DUWELL vending machine condoms" and "stealing an entire pie from Marketplace."

Cranes Assist Humility held a focus group with students and had students play a Cards Against Humanity game with the Cranes Assist Humility expansion pack and other expansion packs intermixed. Student feedback demonstrated that the cards blend in both aesthetically and in terms of gameplay.

"Cranes Assist Humility was made to be super relatable to life at Duke," said sophomore Mae Lewis, a student who has played with the expansion pack. "Playing Cards Against Humanity and other expansion packs with Cranes Assist Humility prompt cards just made the game even funnier."

Graywill first developed the concept during her freshman year, but did not revisit the idea until nearly a year later in January. Initially, the production of Cranes Assist Humility involved employing university resources such as ePrint and the University Center Activities and Events. Graywill, however, has now acquired commercial printing and cutting tools and operates the business out of her dorm room. 

The most difficult part of the development of the game proved to be the manufacturing process. 

Graywill said although she was familiar with marketing and branding strategies, getting the cards printed and produced in a group was one of the largest hurdles to overcome. University resources helped her format the cards and gave her ideas on how to cut and finish them—but the challenge was to develop cards that were efficiently produced and affordably priced. 

“[Cards Against Humanity] are sold at 25 dollars a pack and we didn’t want an expansion pack to cost that much," Graywill said. “We also prioritized producing the cards in a time efficient manner."

Sophomores Elizabeth Burnette, Savannah Lynn and junior Justin Oettinger assisted Graywill in brainstorming the content of the cards. Graywill completed the marketing, design, development and production herself.

"It fits really well with the rest of the cards and is integrated well into the game," Burnette said. "As of now, the cards are not the same size but with the new card cutter they should be ready to go really soon." 

She also noted that legal issues were not of particular concern.

“Parodies of trademarks are legal and you do not need to have permission from copyright holders," she said. "There are many sellers that produce articles under the same acronym. It is an allusion to the title and it is meant to mimic the rhythm and sound.”

Graywill recently developed an online platform for students to submit ideas for both white and black cards, in the hope that anonymous submissions continue to build upon the ways these cards can represent Duke humor. 

"We were getting more well-rounded perspectives. It is interesting to see how the card ideas change," Graywill added. "The goal is to create a set of cards that are funny and relevant."