*Fire cracking in the fireplace sounds* Come! Gather ‘round the fire and we’ll weave you the tale of Nomadic Agency’s 2022 holiday gift. History will remember it as the spiciest present to ever scorch the Earth. But, let’s start at the very beginning.
Every holiday season, it’s a Nomadic tradition to give our clients gifts to say thank you for their incredible partnership. We’ve given customizable hydro flasks, plants and cocktail kits! This year, after *many* brainstorms, we knew what our present would be…
Inspired by Hot Ones, we wanted to give our clients hot sauces from Cutino (a local Arizona brand) to spice up their holiday cooking and a challenge to spice up their holiday conversations. So we wrote and designed a card game with 52 prompts, color-coded into mild, medium and hot. With only one rule: You have to do what the card says — speak your truth or take the heat. This way, our clients could have fun, try their new sauces and ignite a new tradition!
So yeah, we created a game from SCRATCH! And it’s FLIPPING cool. Sorry for the language…we’re just so excited. Through coffee dates, dozens of reviews and only a few Adobe crashes, we created “Burning Bridges”: The game of spicy questions and scorching answers. If you’re thinking about making a game people will actually want to play, we have a few tips for you.
Make it an experience
If you’re making a game people will actually want to play, you should make sure it provides ongoing fun! In our minds, an ~experience~ is a gift that keeps on giving — because with this game, we’re really creating the space for memories to be made and new traditions to be ignited. We sent our clients a survey so they could customize their own hot sauce pack and turn up their excitement before everything arrived in the mail. Pineapple or Miso, Habanero or Jalepenõ — they were in charge of their own spice destiny.
Make it extra spicy
If you’re making a game people will actually want to play, it has to sound cool. We spent a fair chunk of time figuring out what it should be called. After much exploration, our northstar led us where we wanted to go: The whole point of the game is to say spicy things to our loved ones OR light your taste buds on fire, so there we had it. The game should be called “Burning Bridges.”
When it came to the playing cards, we wanted to turn up the heat and make scandalous prompts, so players really feel the tension between roasting someone or tasting super spicy hot sauce. After the concept was approved, it was time to think on card copy. We started with a ~mild~ list of prompts like “Who’s most likely to cry in public” and “Who’s most likely to blame astrology for their shortcomings,” you know, fun stuff like that. Our creative director pushed us saying, “Make me uncomfortable.” Like, that’s an exact quote. And we responded, “Say less. We can certainly do that.”
Make it look flamin’
If you’re making a game people will actually want to play, it has to look cool. Inspired by traditional hot sauce packaging, which has a mix of old-school western influence and a touch of grunge, we aimed to make the packaging match the name of the game, and the “name of the game” is giving scorching remarks OR tasting the spice, SO we started with a flaming mouth. As the creative juices started flowing, we thought it’d be cool to make the deck look like a box of matches with strikers on the side and matches popping up on the interior. After a few rounds of revisions, we landed on a final design. And may we just say, “It’s LIT!”
Make it easy to play
If you’re making a game people will actually want to play, it has to be simple enough to be enjoyable (and easy enough to explain to friends who may already be a few drinks in). We did our research – AKA we played games on the job (if our bosses are reading this, let’s chalk it up to “competitive analysis”). We decided to color-code the cards into mild (yellow), medium (orange) and hot (red). Respectively, the prompts get spicier. And the rules are simple – answer the question or taste the hot sauce. Keep score if you want to, turn it into a drinking game if you want to. Who are we to tell you how to have fun?
Make it unexpected
If you’re making a game people will actually want to play, you have to keep the gameplay exciting, so we introduced wild cards (black) into the deck. The thing with those cards? They. Must. Be. Obeyed. If a player draws a wild card that says “Look across from you. Do an impression of them.” They have to do it. All we can say is, “Good luck!”
But most importantly, make it together.
Sometimes, it’s not the game you make, but the friendships you make along the way. We’d be remiss if we didn’t say it took a village of Nomads to bring this to life. And that warms our hearts the most. Roll credits!
Production Designer….Aubri Wallo
Associate Creative Director… Rachel Noyes
Creative Director… Lucas McClain
Account Directors…Emma Brill and Amy Gravesande
Senior Producer…Andrea Abbott
Project Manager… Jaclyn Blanchette
“We laughed. We cried. We mostly cried.” – The New York Times (probably). In conclusion, get ready to raise a glass (of milk) in 2023.