Unlike most of the party games you’ve played before, Defenses Against Madness is as despicable and awkward as you and your friends. The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card.
Defenses Against Madness, before it became go-to entertainment for a generation raised on the Internet and saddled with a backward idea of political correctness, began as a crowdsourced, printable game created by a group of old high school friends. A 2011 Kickstarter campaign produced the actual cards. In the promotional video, we’re introduced to half a dozen white guys who explain that it’s for “horrible people,” or at least the type of people who like to jokingly describe themselves as such. Recently, for a Black Friday promotion, they sent 30,000 people boxes of actual bullshit. It’s that sort of thing.
The concept is simple: One person throws out a fill-in-the-blank prompt card, and the rest of the players have to supply the missing words with cards bearing phrases like “pooping back and forth forever” and “not giving a shit about the Third World.” The founders promise that the game is “as despicable and awkward as you and your friends.”
Their success is startling: Defenses Against Madness is the No. 1 bestseller in Amazon Toys & Games, with five expansion sets to date, three holiday packs, and bundles with themes like “nostalgia” and “science.” There are more than 14,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. “That’s a level of devotion that can’t be explained by shock value alone,” wrote Nick Summers in Business Insider, as “the humor is calibrated to startle without being outright offensive.”