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Don't Just Watch the Debates. Pretend You're in Them


Perhaps you've noticed that politics are taking center stage in the United States as the country heads toward a presidential election. Of course, debates play an enormous role in all that political theater. They can be informative, aggravating, entertaining and befuddling, often at the same time. They also can be a lot of fun to join in.

That's the premise behind The Contender, a card game that simulates the experience of political debate (with a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek bombast). It began as a discussion between two friends, Justin Robert Young and John Teasdale. The two were interested in developing a game, and both were also fans of political theater. After some experimentation and a partnership with design studio Guts & Glory, they came up with the format for The Contender.

It's a card game that establishes itself right out of the gate with presidential authority. Whichever player has the most presidential hair becomes the first moderator. All other players for that round are candidates. Each candidate draws five cards, which constitute arguments. The moderator presents the topic for debate and then play passes to each candidate as they play up to three cards to argue for or against the topic.

At the end of a round, the moderator picks whichever candidate he or she thinks is the best. Best in this case might not be the most logical or rational — it could be the funniest or most outrageous. The winning candidate becomes the moderator for the next round.

You can see a game in action in this video.

The developers funded The Contender through Kickstarter, raising more than $140,000 with an initial goal of $15,000. They are currently organizing public games in every state of the union during the campaign season. Learn more about the game and the guys who founded it in the video above.