Local couple’s card game lets you laugh at 2020

2020: The Game lets players re-live the year with a laugh. (Images courtesy of Kathryn Christensen)

After a year of self-isolating and mask wearing, many are left to wonder how they are expected to mentally and emotionally process a challenging year that included a pandemic, toilet paper shortages and murder hornets. According to Lynnwood High School alumnus Jonathan Noble and his girlfriend Kathryn Christensen, the best way is with a laugh.

Christensen and Noble, who live in Bothell, have created a card game aptly named 2020: The Game, which they said allows players to look back on the past year with humor. 

“We really wanted to make it something that would be fun for everybody regardless of what candidate they voted for or regardless of what groups they’re rallying behind,” Christensen said.

The rules are relatively simple: Players start the game by rolling a die, which determines their positions on three top issues that are maintained throughout the game — Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter, pro-Trump or anti-Trump, and pro-mask or anti-mask. From there, players alternate drawing cards and watching as 2020 unfolds before them.

Each player begins with 15 points under three categories — health, morale and money. As cards are drawn, the events of 2020 affect these categories and the last person with points left under each column wins the game. A pro-Trump player may gain morale points if they attend a MAGA (Make America Great Again) rally or an anti-masker may risk losing money or morale — depending on their roll — when their job requires them to wear a mask.

Some cards can also provide assistance throughout the game. For example, a player can increase their health if they receive food or hand sanitizer. 

“You have to make a lot of choices COVID style, the way we did in real life,” Christensen said.

Game creators Kathryn Christensen and Jonathan Noble.

Most of the card ideas came from Christensen, who said she drafted them while on a flight for work.

“We just kind of built the mechanicals and the rules together…bouncing ideas off each other,” she added.

Then Noble, a graphic designer who also works at Fast Signs in Lynnwood, created a look for the cards. He said that some colors are associated with positions the player has taken during the game. Other cards have colors only featured on those card types. So, for example, when players draw a card and see green they know they have a Fake News card which — ironically — acts as a “trump” card, allowing players to block the effects of a negative card. 

“I wanted to make it really easy and clear,” Noble said.

For many, 2020 was a year rife with divisive politics, social inequalities involving law enforcement and people of color, and several significant issues that continue to be topics of conversation. Christensen and Noble said they gathered as much feedback from as many different people as possible before deciding what to include in the game.

The couple sought folks on both sides of each issue to make sure what they included wasn’t offensive to anyone. “We did our best within the group that we have and the diversity of friends we have available to really reach out to the groups and make sure that we were doing okay on that front,” Christensen said.

She added that she has played the game with friends who disagree with her on every issue but they were still able to have a good laugh during the game. Especially, she said, when someone who feels strongly about one topic has to play on the opposite side of it.

“It’s funny if someone who supports Trump rolls and has to play anti-Trump for the game,” she said.

The couple set a goal of having the game ready before 2020 ended. It took less than a month for them to finish it — just in time for Christmas. Of the initial thousand games they ordered, around 300 copies have been sold. If they sell enough, Christensen — a horse trainer — said she is going to buy a barn.

“We didn’t choose the topics — the year chose the topics,” Noble said. “We used what people were talking about in the year — like all the buzzwords of the year — and we injected them into the game.”

To learn more about 2020: The Game or order it online, visit 2020thegame.store.

–By Cody Sexton

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