I have hated every educational game I ever played. Except Assassin’s Creed. That franchise is awesome. But every game that is marketed as educational, without exception, has been terrible.
So why would I work on any game that is designed to strengthen practical skills? That’s the same as educational, right?
I joined the team because of an unrelated experience I had in 2014. I was at a backpacker’s hotel in Sydney, unable to sleep, at 12am. My friends were all asleep, and I wasn’t even tired. There was a group of Spanish college students who were also insomniacs, apparently. They were playing Manzanas con Manzanas (Apples to Apples). I had studied Spanish for a few years in the early 2000s, so I tried conversing with them. But I could not hold an intelligent conversation. Still, I understood the game, and I spoke well enough to play, so I played Manzanas con Manzanas with them.
We laughed the entire time. Then I got my game, Cards Against Humanity, in English, and we played that.
We probably woke half of the hotel guests. Towards the end of the night (sunrise), I was better able to understand their accents. The words that I hadn’t spoken in years started coming to me more naturally every time I used them. I could feel myself improving not only as a linguist, but also as a person, because that night, I learned the true meaning of several new swear words.
On that same trip, I saw all the tourism highlights of Sydney, enjoyed the nightlife in Brisbane, and flew to the US to celebrate New Year’s Eve in New Orleans. Even though I had many incredible experiences on that trip, the part I remember most—the most fun I had—was playing silly games with those Spanish backpackers, even though I could barely talk to them.
The games weren’t fun despite being in a foreign language. They were fun because they were in a foreign language.
When my younger brother, Jordan, told me about his startup company and the game they were making, I understood his vision immediately. It was all the fun I had with Manzanas con Manzanas–the comradery, the intellectual challenge, the mutual improvement, the silliness–all put into one game.
I believe in Stranded on Babel, and I work hard every day so one day I will be able to play a video game that is as fun and as edifying as an all-night party with Manzanas con Manzanas… in broken Spanish… with strangers.
-Trevor Clive, Creative Director