Can a card game make your team stronger? Absolutely.
It’s a pretty common problem at startups: when the company is young, it’s small and everyone knows everyone else’s name and what they do. Then if you’re successful, you start to hire and grow. Seemingly overnight, you’re surrounded by an ever increasing number of people you don’t know. How to keep up?
Here’s one answer: make a card game.
We’re pretty big on tabletop games. Our monthly Game Night is a hallowed tradition, and it’s not unusual for founders and senior leaders to play side-by-side with new hires and interns. It’s exactly the kind of cross-company interaction we love — the kind that sparks conversations and friendships between people who might not otherwise meet.
If you can create that kind of environment playing Munchkin or Settlers of Catan, what would happen if the game itself revolved around the company? Humans of WePay: The Card Game is our experimental answer to that question. The brainchild of Chaitanya Bagaria, a senior software engineer, the game challenges players to put together teams of WePay employees to solve business problems and win customers.
There are three kinds of cards in the game:
- Task cards: Specific challenges that players can choose to complete in exchange for game resources. These were drawn from actual tasks our functional teams deal with on a day to day basis. We even pulled tasks from actual Jira tickets.
- Special Event cards: Atypical challenges that represent the fun, unexpected things that come up when you’re a company handling more than a billion dollars in transactions.
- Humans cards: These are the resources to complete tasks. Each Human can contribute only within his or her specialty — we’re team players, but we also recognize our sales people don’t code and our DevOps people don’t review legal documents.
Chaitanya built the game’s cards using a Go script that grabbed folks’ actual names, titles, and pictures from an internal site so everyone playing starts getting exposed to the rest of the WePay team. There’s also a collaborative element — if a player is unable to complete a task, he or she can barter for help from other players. And because backstabbing is fun (in games), one can also hinder opponents by spending Coffee N’ Donuts tokens to create distractions that prevent their Humans from completing tasks.
Humans of WePay was good fun when we playtested it at a recent Game Night — it was easy to explain to players, and played a bit like a more serious version of Munchkin. And while it’s too early to say that it’s revolutionized our company culture, there were more than a few “Oh, so THAT’S who that guy is” moments.
Mission accomplished, we think.
We’re iterating on the design as we get more feedback, but you can check out the beta version of the rules here. We’re also planning to release the scripts used to build the deck, once they’re refined, so you can build a version customized for your own organization. So more good to come. Game on.