Read Culture

DICK Card Game

An irreverent retelling of the whale of American literary classics

DICK is at once a provocative party game and a retelling of Herman Melville’s classic novel”Moby-Dick” or, “The Whale.” In a mash-up of literature and lowbrow humor, the game positions direct quotations from Melville’s often-suggestive text against a backdrop of contemporary culture. Players are invited to gather a half-dozen of their bosom friends and jointly plunge their harpoons into the ecstatic flank of delight metaphorically.

DICK grew out of an undergraduate literature seminar in which SMU English professor Tim Cassedy juxtaposed Melvilles 1851 novel with HBO’s 2014 “True Detective”two stories aboutobsessive and self-destructive quests to confront evil.”Moby-Dick”is about knowing that the truth is unknowable, but looking for it anyway, says Cassedy of his favorite novelwhich he calls our national epic.Two of his students (now graduates), Chelsea Grogan and Jenna Peck, collaborated with their professor to crafta game that illustrates how the novel ismore subversive and irreverentthan its place in the literary canon suggests.

In a format familiar to players ofApples to ApplesorCards Against Humanity, players take turns being the judge who reads aloud one of the games 100 green fill-in-the-blank cards.The other players use white cards containing direct quotations fromMoby-Dickto propose solutions for the blanks.Whoever submits the best response wins the round.For example, one card asks players to complete The latest Westboro Baptist Church sign: GOD HATES _______. Whether the winning answer is infernal orgies, sellin human heads, coffee and hot rolls, Quakers with a vengeance, or the butterfly cheeks of young girls depends on the judge.The creators also sell optional waystoenhance your DICK with additional prompts.

Playing with words and meanings is central to both the novel and the game. Both raise political, philosophical and religious issues in ways that are sophisticated, contradictoryand lewd.As Cassedy, a tenure-track professor of American literature, suggests,’Moby-Dick’is full of gleeful, irreverent humor.Theres a dick joke in the title of the book. The trio notes thatMoby-Dickcontains an entire chapter about making a whales foreskin into an apron. Peck says, Its beautiful to realize that the way weconnect with the world and how we relate to it in our culture is not so different from the 1850sDICK connects us with the past in a very personal way. And Grogan asks:”What is life without humor?”

DICK is available online for $20, and expansion sets (mostly geared toward Academics and New Yorkers) cost $1 each.

Images courtesy of DICK, the game.


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