Holi-Gay Gift Guide: The Gayme (A Social Lubricant)

Mon. December 21, 2015 10:38 AM by Anthony Morgano

This year's lack of snow is no excuse to skip Christmas, but if you're smart and skipped the mayhem of Black Friday you're probably still searching for that perfect gift for your best friend, boss, lover, partner or still-closeted gay uncle. Afraid to enter the crowds gathering at Watertower Place and along the Mag Mile? Or perhaps you've just been spending hours standing in front of displays at Macy's wondering "do they actually NEED that? does ANYONE?" Never fear, because until Christmas, ChicagoPride.com will help you last-minute shoppers find the perfect, local queer gift for everyone on your list!

The older you get, the more fun gifts like toys and games are swapped for grown-up presents of clothes, gift cards and other markers of practicality that cause tantrums amongst younger family members. This year, go back to the days when Christmas meant play and purchase a copy of "The Gayme" -- it'll be as a much a gift for you and all your friends as for the person whose name is on the tag.

"We tell people it's like a cross between Cards Against Humanity -- in that it's a social game -- Never Have I Ever and King's Cup all mixed together," Matt Sauve, 23, The Gayme's creator, told ChicagoPride.com. "The whole reason I made it is that it's a social lubricant, which is our tag line."

The Gayme is a unique, versatile game that consists of 500 rainbow-colored cards meant to be mixed together and chosen at random. The cards are then read aloud and, for most cards, all members of the group it relates to take a drink (that's non-alcoholic for those under 21 -- the game is recommended for 16+ and can be played with up to 20 participants).

There are several types of cards, most of which are "All Play" meaning that they apply to the entire group. These cards vary from "have you ever..."-style Question cards to Storytime cards that encourage your group to get to know one another and Categories cards, which are played like King's Cup. (Sauve's favorite is the Categories card "Quotes From Mean Girls," which he says can have his friends going around the circle for ages.) There are also Individual and Rule cards that pertain only the the reader and, finally, Trivia cards played with just one other member of the group.

"One of the coolest things is, because each card is based on experiences, every time you play with different people it's a different game because different people drink, there are different challenges, and there are 500 cards to get through," Sauve said.

The cards themselves vary from the historical ("Which country was first to be lead by an openly gay person?") to the sexual ("Drink for as many seconds as the largest age gap you've had sex with") to the stereotypical and silly ("For a turn you must act like a pretty princess, utilizing your princess wave and referring to the other players as peasants."; "Oh no, your boyfriend cheated on you with the milkman! Take a drink while you switch to soy").

Many of the cards were inspired by life, with Sauve jotting notes when he went through or heard a story about experiences he thought of as shared by the gay community. The cards play on everything from queer pop culture to coming-of-age experiences and sex confessionals that will have any group of friends or strangers bonded in just a few rounds.

"There are no points in this game, there's no winning or losing, you just open it up and play until you feel sufficiently drunk or you're laughing too hard or you're ready to go out," Sauve explained. "You can play it with two people or 20 and people can leave, they don't have to play the whole time. It's like the perfect party game just because it's hilarious; it's people telling stories, breaking down barriers and getting to know each other better. You don't have to play really close attention to it, if you want to just have fun and talk."

The Gayme made its first appearance in the winter of 2012, when Sauve was studying opera and business at the University of Denver. He was having a group of gay friends over one cold and blustery night and struggled to figure out what they would do shut up in his small apartment aside from drinking and watching movies -- so he decided to invent a gay drinking game.

The game was initially conceived as a board game in which players moved a piece to different squares, each of which contained a different question or action of some sort.

"My friends loved it! We kept bringing it to every party we went to and pretty soon everyone in the college wanted to play it," Sauve said.

It was at this point that the board game squares turned into the cards chosen for the game now, largely for the sake of ease once "gaymers" had imbibed a few drinks.

"I turned it into a card game where all you have to do is pick a card, read it out loud and do what it says -- and it was a hit because there's not really anything else out there like it," he continued.

Sauve was joined in 2013 by his business partner Cam Tucker who played the game in its early stages, saw its potential and wanted to help make it a real product. Together, they launched a Kickstarter campaign for The Gayme in May of 2014, ready to bring their creation to the masses.

While they crowdfunded to raise money, the duo stationed themselves in a booth at the 2014 Denver PrideFest to help spread the word. At the time they had no physical copies of the The Gayme, just a prototype and a pre-order sign-up list -- in that first go, they received something like 100 pre-orders from folks willing to pay for a game now that wouldn't be available for months down the road

"That moment was just like 'wow, this is really something that people want and it's going to be successful," Sauve said.

This helped Sauve and Tucker realize a few things. First, that Pride festivals were an excellent place to market their product -- this year they went back to Denver's PrideFest as well as those in Chicago, New York and and L.A. to promote The Gayme and sold out at each one.

When nearly half of their interested parties were lesbians, they also realized they needed to adjust the cards, which were then geared almost entirely to gay men, to appeal to the broader LGBTQ community. Since then, they've added several gender neutral and lesbian-specific cards to create a more inclusive game.

"What's also cool is that even though it's an LGBT game...the straight people we've played it with have actually loved it even more, because only probably 10% of the cards you'd need to be gay to understand what it is and anyone else could play the whole game," Sauve said. "And they love acting a little gay!"

The Gayme raised more than triple the goal set at Kickstarter, and Sauve and Tucker had the official product made by the same manufacturer as "Cards Against Humanity." In July, Sauve and relocated to Chicago, the home of the first brick-and-mortar location selling their product: where else but at Boystown Collectibles, 3453 N Halsted, formerly known as "Gay-Mart."

"I love [Chicago], it's a big city, there's a lot more to do -- I especially love the summer when every weekend there's like an event or a festival here and it's just a party the whole time," Sauve said of his new home in the Windy City. "It's really good for the game too because, there's a bigger gay community and a whole gay street."

So what's next for The Gayme? Stay tuned for an instructional YouTube video explaining to folks how The Gayme is played ("When people see it they don't always really understand what it is at first, but once they finally see what it is they're like 'oh I want this,' Sauve said.) Sauve also hopes to turn a list of even MORE card ideas into an upcoming expansion pack and promises that gaymers will love these cards even more than the first set.

Head on over to https://gopride.com/Zc35/ for more information or to purchase your copy (for only $25!!) online. The website store also sells a cute American Apparel tank top with "GAYMER" printed on the front in rainbow letters (perfect for fans of the game or any geeky gay on your holiday list).

The inevitable onset of Chicago's brutal winter is just another reason for The Gayme's success here in the Midwest and part of what makes it the perfect Christmas gift for anyone you want to actually spend time with.

"The Gayme is at it's prime when you're indoors at your own house with a group of your friends and you can just stay in all night playing," Sauve said.

So, don't wait until the Polar Vortex comes -- get online or to Boystown to pick up the Gayme and start playing!

Related: Holi-Gay Gift Guide: 'BOYSTOWN' Season 4