Who am I to judge?

gaming, writing

In a game like Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples, should cards be judged against a set criteria? Or should judgement be left to the Judge?

I recently played a game called Awkward Moment. Gameplay-wise, it’s very similar to Cards Against Humanity and Apples to Apples–on each turn, there’s a Judge, who draws one card (in this case, a Situation), and the other players submit a card from their hand (a Reaction), and then the Judge decides what Reaction card best suits the Situation card. The player who submitted the card the Judge picks gets a point, then a new player is the Judge, and so on. The winner is the player at the end of the game with the most points.

The difference between Awkward Moment and CAH or AA, however, is that there is a third type of card–a Decider. The Judge draws this card with the Situation, and it contains the criteria by which the Reaction should be judged compared to the Situation. For example, I draw the Situation “You’re picked last for the dodgeball teams” and the Decider “Most terrifying.” The other players then try to pick the “most terrifying” Reaction to the Situation, like “Howl at the moon” or “Give them a piece of your mind.”

This is a significant departure from CAH and AA, where the judgement criteria is left entirely up to the Judge. Awkward Moment is a transformative game intended to get its players to think about bias and appropriate reactions, which is why Deciders like “Most practical” are mixed in with “Most ridiculous,” but CAH and AA, as games with no ulterior motive besides entertainment, have no need for such guidelines.

…Or do they?