When Albert Cheung began the production of Kontingency it was with the intent of creating a game created conversations and discussions to "think" about how we will react in potentially dangerous situations. The simple text from the game and his website reads:
"I am so good at worrying, I made a game out of it. When bad situations happen, people tend to freeze up because of the lack of preparation. By role-playing the scenarios in this game, people will be able to openly talk about different approaches in handling various situations. My goal with this game is to have players think swiftly and move cautiously forward when they have to acknowledge situations with potentially significant outcomes."
I doubt that most people in our community as nerds know, but I used to work with emotionally disturbed children--most of their behaviors and interactions had been shaped by trauma or abuse. I am also a survivor of abuse. So, when I met Albert Cheung at Indy Pop Con and got a chance to review this game, I'm not certain anyone could expect the outcome it would have for me....but let's start off about how it looks:
It's a relatively minimalist game in appearance, but in the card game world does that matter? Cards Against Humanity and many more card game systems these days are more about what is said than what is pictured...and honestly, this isn't always something you want art drawn of since it won't aid the narrative of having a contingency to overcome fear. It is well laminated and cut with overall a very professional appearance. The scenarios are color-coded based upon the threat level allowing groups to keep to certain topics and avoid those they aren't ready to discuss.
Much like other party card games played these days one player takes it upon themselves to read a scenario from a series of cards, creating and embellishing it. The difference is that the players are not trying to use a specific card they have but to ask questions (two per player) and give their own answer. The answers can be funny or serious, but in the end the reader chooses their favorite and the game passes on.
My verdict? This is the best outcome for a game; depth with simplicity and ultimately purpose.
How many conversations do we avoid because they are uncomfortable or we just never think of them? Way too many. I see so many applications that this game could go towards. My mind immediately thinks of the students I used to teach and helping them overcome their trauma and return a sense of control to them. There is even application in education such as social studies classrooms benefiting from approaching these topics with play involved. How about families sitting down together, playing it, and instructing children on what to do in certain situations. What about couples playing it together--marriage and dating is fraught with so many pitfalls this could be a huge help on topics that get pushed aside when we focus on bills and adulting...
...and it can be fun! Sometimes we need the comedy in these uncomfortable situations and we need to goof off. Doing this allows us to take the mystique and power away from trauma and fear.
I would honestly recommend picking up a copy of this game and be sure to check out the website http://www.kontingency.com/ where the creator has posted the game for a free print-and-play.