Get ready for goat wizards, pig-a-corns and magical enchiladas to become part of your everyday vocabulary. A card game described by its creators as “a highly strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette” officially became the most backed Kickstarter campaign of all time this week, smashing its original target of $10,000 in just 20 minutes and going on to amass a running total of over $4 million in pledges from more than 108,000 people.
Exploding Kittens was first conceived by illustrator Matthew Inman (best known for online comic The Oatmeal), who teamed up with games designers Elan Lee and Shane Small to launch the Kickstarter. The premise is simple enough; a number of exploding kittens are hidden throughout a deck of cards, and if a player draws one, they’re out. There are, however, a number of other cards that can be employed to protect oneself from the incendiary felines; according to the Kickstarter video, “the game enables you to develop fun or cruel strategies against one another.”
The campaign’s success should come as a surprise to no-one; if there’s one thing the internet loves more than a good crowdfunding story, it’s kittens. According to creator Matthew Inman, the trick was creating something funny and engaging that lived up to the eye-grabbing name. “The title is funny, but you’re also blowing up cats, and people aren’t super into that,” Inman told CNET. Enter the ‘defuse’ cards, which can take the form of cat-taming items like a laser pointer, or catnip sandwich. And then there are less logical cards, like the All-Seeing Goat Wizard and the Cheetah Butt. “I’m like a non sequitur machine,” says Inman. “I can just pull them out of nowhere.”
Inman believes that the overwhelming response to the Kickstarter campaign can be traced back in part to its simplicity. “I have seen so many Kickstarters where you back the project, and then instead of getting the thing you asked for, you get two years of emails,” he says. “So we’re really hesitant to add things that are complicated… We didn’t want to do any complex reward tiers.” So he and his team kept it simple; the more people donated, the more cards they would receive.
And donate they did! In a blog post on the Kickstarter page, the Exploding Kittens team assert that the project’s success has nothing to do with press or hype, and everything to do with the people who gave their own money. “You wonderful people have come together to form the largest community in Kickstarter history, and the numbers keep rising,” it says. “Thank you backers, you are the mostestest.”