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Chuck Klosterman's HYPERTheticals : 50 Questions for Insane Conversations (a review of some sort)

Chuck Klosterman's HYPERTheticals : 50 Questions for Insane Conversations (a review of some sort)

Every person you have ever slept with is invited to a banquet where you are the guest of honor. No one will be in attendance except you, the collection of your former lovers, and the catering service. After the meal, you are ask to give a 15-minutes speech to the assembly.

What do you talk about?

My admiration for the writing of Chuck Klosterman is well documented on this blog. I've written awkward and passionate reviews of his book and proudly call myself a completist. Klosterman published four non-fiction books, three essay collections and two novels, which I have all read and discussed with you in the past. Some of these are among the most important books in my life, namely Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs and I Wear the Black Hat, both for different and complicated reasons. It took me forever to purchase his 2010 card game: HYPERTheticals: 50 Questions for Insane Conversations because I didn't want to put money on a card game that I would've put on a book instead. 

That's my life in a nutshell: I'd rather spent time alone and make abstraction of my own existence for a couple hours than play a game with people who genuinely like me *. I've talked myself into doing it a couple years ago (2015, really) and gave HYPERTheticals a couple runs since them. I just never talked about it. I don't really talk about games on this blog. But I want to live up to my Chuck Klosterman completist status, so I'll do my best. Here is my review of HYPERTheticals: 50 Questions for Insane Conversations or why would you play THIS social card game more than any other during your leisure time.

How do you play?

HYPERTheticals contains 51 cards, including one that explains you how the game is played. There are no rules to this game except that you need at least two players. It's just a series of questions with no right or wrong answers. A designated player reads the card out loud (I suppose you can take turns) and everyone involve answers to the best of their abilities. The goal is to explore (and ultimately judge) the thought process of people you're playing with. It can be loved ones, co-workers, people you've met at the bar or strangers from the internet if you're lonely like I am.

Because you often know (and disagree) with WHAT people think, but you never really know WHY they think the way they think. HYPERTheticals is more of an fun exercise than an actual game in that regard. It's like playing basketball with your brain.

Is it fun?

It depends who you're playing with. The first person I've tested HYPERTheticals with is Josie during a week-long resort vacation in Mexico. We know each other so well that our propensity for surprising one another is very small. We've selfishly enjoyed the mental gymnastics aspect of HYPERTheticals but never had a : "HOLY SHIT. ARE YOU INSANE?" moment you're supposed to have. That would come later when I'd bring the game to after-work drinks when I've discovered my esteemed colleague Tom has an ironclad plan for usurping a suitcase full of diamonds if it ever were to fall on his lap but has no idea how to get rid of the butt-naked amnesiac Shaquille O'Neal showering in his bathroom that comes along with it.

THAT was a shitload of fun.

Is it more fun than Exploding Kittens or Cards Against Humanity? I've only played the latter and HYPERTheticals is at least as unpredictable and has an intimate character card games usually don't offer. All you're given is a frame of reference to think through. You cannot blame the hand you've been dealt for being a horrible person, only your own thought process. That's why I would only advocate playing with people you actually trust because a certain level of earnestness is required in order to play HYPERTheticals and last thing you want is silent judgments darting across the table. If this game ever hits major success I wouldn't be surprise if it became the second leisurely cause of friendship severance after MonopolyHYPERTheticals is fun, but it makes you responsible for your own fun. So operate with care and maybe don't play with that girl you're trying to impress.

What kind of questions are there?

That's the fun part where HYPERTheticals almost comes off like a an actual book. Every questions involves a fantasy scenario that has very little to do with the real world and a subsequent choice to make. For example, the question I've quoted above is in its entirety. It's one of the short ones (which is why I used it for this piece) and some other can be three to four times as long and detailed. The likeliness of a banquet being held in your honor involving everyone you've ever slept with unless you're a narcissistic maniac,  but it speaks to the level of appreciation and fondness you have for your sexual partners of the past and perhaps for sex itself.

Is it a taboo subject you never, ever discuss with people? Are you comfortable discussing your own performances in a room full of guests who are in-the-know? Have you ever conne people into having sex with you? HYPERTheticals has you confronting these questions in front of an audience, therefore the importance of always playing with people you trust (or people you think you trust) because judgement can come flying-in quickly. It can also be used as a way to drain the swamp of people you suspect don't like you for the right reasons if you're into that sort of confrontation. Unless you're willing to lie and create a persona for yourself in such intricate, yet spontaneous scenarios it's not not to earnestly play this game.

Should you buy HYPERTheticals : 50 Questions for Insane Conversations?

I believe so. It's kind of a card game for people who don't like to play card games and bother learning complicated rules just to have a good time with their peers. These can fill up your evenings or just be used as conversation starters. You can do all 50 at onces. You can play them 10 at the time. One at the time, even. HYPERTheticals is an amorphous, interactive hybrid between a game and the actual experience of reading a Chuck Klosterman book. If you're a fan like me, I guess it's a good way of getting non-readers into his thoroughly unique thought process. I'm sure glad I bought it for reasons beyond completism. HYPERTheticals is now that cool thing nobody really knows I bring to parties whenever 1) I go to a party. It's more like dinner parties at my age and 2) I go to parties where there are people I like enough to play this with. It just feels good to have up my sleeve, you know? Like an intellectual shank. 


* These people are few, but they exist. I assure you. And not only on the internet.

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