Never trust an idea unless it survives the hangover.
Though, by the time University of Northern Colorado alumna Chrissy Fagerholt came across these words of wisdom, her team’s 18-plus party game “Friend or Faux” was already deep into the creation process. Two and a half years ago, Fagerholt, a class of 2000 graduate, went to dinner with three close friends, prompting fellow UNC alumna Melissa Derby to introduce everyone to a game she’d invented.
Originally titled “Friend or Foe,” the two played the game with fellow alumni Colleen Stalwick and Jodi Sagastume. The group was surprised at how little they knew about each other, despite having known each other since childhood.
“We had been drinking, like, ‘This is so fun, everyone’s going to want this game,” and I woke up and I thought, ‘I still think it’s a good idea,’” Fagerholt said. “You make good decisions, bad decisions under the influence, and the next day you’re like ‘Oh my gosh,’ but for some reason I was like, ‘This is good. I think we have something here.’”
The quartet — comprised of former communication, journalism, dance and business majors — immediately launched into the game’s development process, taking the time to educate themselves about the board game industry. According to Fagerholt, although their idea went through several months of practice plays, the heart and original purpose of the game never changed. There were three prototypes total before the final product, with a major change being to make the points as simple as possible so players can focus on the gameplay itself.
“What resonated was, ‘Yes, I’ve known this per- son since I was 12 years old, but maybe I just met someone last month and they would know so much more than someone that I’ve known for 20 years,’” Fagerholt said. “So the idea was ‘I want to know what people really do know about each other.’”
Hence the change in name. In order to see to that goal, the team created Easily Amused Productions, an LLC that’s used as an umbrella company, and at- tended ChiTag, a Chicago-based toy and game fair. Immediately afterwards, two separate companies were interested in licensing “Friend or Faux,” establishing a firm commitment between its creators.
From April 2017 to May 2017, Easily Amused Productions ran a Kickstarter campaign, ending with over $25,000 and nearly 420 backers. According to Fagerholt, all the funds the team raised went into the game’s first round of production. Even though it is slightly more expensive, the company manufactures the game in the United States as opposed to overseas.
Funny enough, each member of the EAP partnership was working full time during the game’s initial creation, such as being a stay-at-home mom, a dental hygienist and working in customer relations. This resulted in the four exchanging countless phone calls, emails and texts over two years from four different states.
Although “Friend or Faux” was initially just a stack of random questions to ask of each player, the alumni eventually broke it down into five rounds. This change was designed to give players time to drink, feel comfortable and let their guard down.
“So through the five rounds of the increasingly revealing questions the players answer about each other, are earned and then unexpected connections are made,” Fagerholt said. “At times it’s risque, at times it’s surprising, and it’s just a lighthearted way to enjoy real-life interactions with new friends, old friends.”
Targeting the 21-and-over crowd, Fagerholt said the connections her and her friends made were major aspects of their college experiences. Following that trend, all of “Friend of Faux”’s questions are meant to give players a break from everyday life. In fact, Fagerholt said when the game was still in its practice play stage, most of its fans were college-aged, prompting the creators to introduce it to their alma mater.
“Things aren’t so serious. You get to talk about things that maybe you wouldn’t talk about in a normal social setting,” Fagerholt said. “It’s an opportunity to ask something that you wouldn’t normally or don’t know how to ask.”
Despite having similar themes to other popular college games, such as “Cards Against Humanity,” “Friend or Faux” focuses on the natural hilarity in real-life situations and experiences. Easily Amused Productions is also planning on releasing a family version of the game if the upcoming holiday season goes well.
“A lot is in the title of the game, so ‘Friend or Faux’ is a game of ridiculously revealing questions. It’s really not how many friends we have, but how well we know them,” Fagerholt said. “So ‘Friend or Faux’ inspires players to get personal, share stories, recall memories and makes you laugh until it hurts.”
“Friend or Faux” is licensed by the 18+ division of Goliath Games, called “Games Adults Play.” Copies of the game became available to the public at the beginning of August and can be purchased through Target and Amazon.