A Look Inside Pricetitution, The Game That Asks How Much It'd Cost For You To Do Terrible Things

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 16, 2017 6:10PM

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Courtesy Dan Killian

What is it about Chicago that spurs people to create card games that plumb the darkest depths of peoples' psyches, yet manage to remain both provocative and hilarious? First there was the Cards Against Humanity crew, and now another local entrepreneur is on the scene with Pricetitution, a runaway Kickstarter success that sprung from the mind of Chicago ad agency professional Dan Killian.

According to the game's Kickstarter page, "Pricetitution is a card game where you guess how much money it would take your friends to do absurd things. Then you can pointlessly argue and rethink all your friendships."

The game is simple, you have cards with questions and you deal them. Sample questions include: How much money would it take...

...to delete all my social media accounts with no explanation?
...to drink 4 ounces of pee from the neighbor on my left?
...to call my mom after sex every time and say "I arrived safely"?

After the question, everyone writes down the lowest amount they think the person being asked would do the deed for, including the asked. Those closest to the subject's number scores points. Arguments ensue. Good times!

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Pricetitution creator Dan Killian
The idea seems to have resonated. With a goal of $10,000, the Kickstarter hit the $12,000 mark within hours of launch, putting them at number 1 on the "popular" projects list on Kickstarter. And the game currently has nearly 600 backers from 10 countries, ranging from Serbia to Australia. So guessing how horrible your friends are is apparently an international pastime.

With less than a week to go (the project closes next Thursday), Killian is now hoping to hit the $40,000 mark so he can fund even more games along the same lines. They're already at $20,000, so he may just hit that mark.

Killian took a few moments from his efforts during this final push to answer a few questions we had.

CHICAGOIST: So, how did you even come up with the idea for the game?

DAN KILLIAN: Great question—the short answer is I threw it out as an afterthought while sitting on my front stoop with a friend. I needed a new creative outlet and was throwing out ideas ranging from videos to companies to card games.

Before developing this, I rarely played games and definitely didn't think about diving in to develop one. But at the core of Pricetitution are really deep and eye-opening conversations that everyone already has. Over drinks or a meal, my friends and I would always ask each other, "How much money would it take you to [blank]?" It never got old because we always learned something new about each other, even if we had known one another for years. And then I realized we weren't special and that everyone did this! By creating Pricetitution, we just gave these typical conversations a home.

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Courtesy Dan Killian

C: How did you develop the concept?

DAN KILLIAN: After testing with friends and family to work out the initial kinks, I packed up my bag with a couple of games and blindly went up to people at board-game bars in the city—especially Guthries in Lakeview. I just asked them if they wanted to play a new game while I took notes on what questions worked and what didn't. The fear of rejection was pretty scary initially, but after countless testing sessions, I realized no group had ever said no. And when they started asking if they could buy it on the spot, that's when I realized I was onto something.

C: What made you decide to make the jump to actually getting the game funded?

DAN KILLIAN: Because I'm stubborn and I was sick of just talking about ideas and saying "what if" all the time. Like many of us, for years I fell into the trap of being more scared of failing than excited about succeeding. It was classic paralysis by analysis. So I finally had to put my money (and backers' money) where my mouth was.

C: Here's a question I've always wondered about with Kickstarters: is the basic game done and needs production or is it still in development? How does that work?

DAN KILLIAN: Pretty much the full design, all the cards, instructions, and everything were completely done before the Kickstarter even launched. But we did most of this by hand, and it's very expensive and time-consuming to make just a few full games. So based on wanting to make 5,000 of these things, that's not exactly something I could do in my basement. So I found one of the best game manufacturers in the world to partner with. Optimizations with them are currently in progress, but they're mostly just tweaks at this point to make sure it's the highest quality product possible.

C: You're almost across the finish line, so what are your plans after the game goes out to folks?

DAN KILLIAN: Catch up on 18 months of sleep!

No, realistically, I see this as just the beginning. Of course there are the options of expansion packs, getting the game into local retailers, or even developing an app.
Pricetitution is a physical card game now, but creating tools that help others connect in unique ways is fascinating to me. I also do some consulting about how improv comedy is the best preparation for anyone's 9-to-5 job, so I'd love to explore how that and Pricetitution could be more intertwined. Relatability and true connections through conversation are timeless, so there are much bigger opportunities here I'd like to explore.

C: Anything I missed or that you'd like to add?

DAN KILLIAN: I'm an ad guy that is in charge of the business and account side of things in my 9 to 5, but I needed an outlet to satisfy my creative side. I did improv for years in college, was the editor for the humor/satire section of the newspaper, etc., but haven't continued with those types of projects since then. So this entire project was ultimately me testing myself because I was tired of having ideas—for products, businesses, or even sketch comedy videos—and never acting on them. So I wanted to see if I could actually turn a simple thought into something I could be proud to physically hold in my hands.

C: Actually, finally, what's your personal favorite card in the game?

DAN KILLIAN: My favorite card is "How much to tell a preschool class of 20 kids that Santa isn't real?"

Yes, it can be perceived as heartless. But if you dive deep, it combines a funny concept while also revealing very real traits about a person's stance on guilt, morality and treatment of others. That balance of funny/real conversations is the crux of the game.