Activism, Logic and Zombies, Exclusive Interview with Blaise from Zombie Shuffle

I was excited to find a KickStarter project in the back of my yard to discuss this week. We love playing games here, and this time we will like to bring you a new Zombie Game to discuss. Before you say, “Not Again!” I will like to let you know. It’s a card game! It was my pleasure to interview Blaise Sewell about his awesome project called Zombie Shuffle. So sit back, read and don’t get infected!

A toast to epic!

A toast to epic!

1. Feel free to introduce yourself and tell us more about your team.
I am a writer, graphic designer and political activist. I work a lot with grassroots organizations and work to make change on the local level. Lately I’ve been working heavily with local groups to stop the city of Chicago from closing 129 of its public schools.

My team is basically a group of friends that I mostly met through the comedy scene here in Chicago. Second City classes and such. We’ve played Zombie Shuffle over and over for the past year, they inspire me and then I go back to the computer and design the cards. My wife plays a huge role: she’s probably played Zombie Shuffle more than anyone – even when we had to trudge through problematic rules at the beginning.

 

2.Ah nice, I heard about this recent debate about the closing of 129 Chicago Public Schools(CPS) and I will like to know, what is your stance on the issue?

The issue is that the CPS is corrupt (not a big surprise for Chicago politics) and are using whatever excuse possible to close public schools and bring in for-profit Charter schools. Fun fact: these Charter schools are owned by the same hedge funds that ran our economy into the ground back in 2008. We don’t trust them and if our public schools got the financial backing the Charters received then they would flourish. I say we need a moratorium on school closings until we can get an elected school board (one of the few cities in the US that is appointed) and some oversight from the communities the closings will effect the most.

 

3.But, I also hear the problem is that due to property taxes going to pay for public schooling, education for poor people will be drastically worst without charter education’s standards.

It’s true that these school closings will effect the poorest communities first. We have real examples because they’ve been doing this since 2004. For example in the Kenwood neighborhood they closed a ton of schools and crime/gang violence has increased 300% since. We also have data that shows in the 10 years they’ve been replacing schools only 18% of the replacements are “high performing” and that includes Charter schools. Like I said, they’re coming up with excuse after excuse but the data doesn’t represent their claims. Their policies are actually hurting education.

I’m glad you brought up the property taxes too. Another fun fact: 25% of your rent check (through property tax) goes toward CPS. This is all of our issue because the money is being funneled into private companies and banks and not to the kids in our communities.

 

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4. Ah interesting.Well,I’m glad numbers are numbers.Let us move onward. Can you explain your goal for Zombie Shuffle to look like for the next 5 years?

I really think we’ve built the engine for a whole new way of playing card games. I know that sounds like a cheesy line but I haven’t seen these game mechanics in other modern games. By using the standard deck of cards as our pallet I hope our little game inspires more like it. I have another game that runs similarly, similarly using other cards as the playing board, that I hope to also release if this one does well.

I’d love to see the game spread and possibly offered in retail stores as well. After the Kickstarter is finished then we plan to sell them on a newly created website and adventure outward from there.

 

5.How do you win or lose the game?
So Zombie Shuffle works where the Ace cards are the Survivors, the Kings, Queens, and Jacks are Zombies, and the 2 through 10 cards are the weapons and supplies to fight the zombie hoard.

Much like any Zombie movie, show, or comic – the idea is to stay alive

Sometimes only one player survives while other times several will make it through and the player with the most kills wins that round. I might add that killing other survivors is also an option in this game and earns one a point just like killing any other zombie.

 

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6.So there are  only 4 zombies?

Actually it’s 9 zombies per round and you can play as many rounds as you and your friends are feeling. 9 zombies typically takes 5-10 minutes.At the beginning of the game, you place the 9 zombies face down in a “Z” shape and set aside the other 3. In this way, you create a completely different board every time you play and don’t know which zombies you’re working with ahead of time.

 

7. After you set the zombies down, then what?

You flip the first Zombie card over and compete with fellow players to extinguish the threat. (We’re releasing a game play video later thisweek so this is kind of an exclusive at the moment.) You kill the zombie by laying down a card with a corresponding suit (i.e. killing the King of Spades with the 8 of Spades.) The player with the highest card wins that phase and the game moves on to a Battle Phase during which players can equip their character with armor, cure themselves from ‘zombification’ or attack another player.

 

8.What will the $6,500 goal go to?

$6,500 is the bare minimum we need and will go entirely to printing and shipping the first round of Zombie Shuffle decks. All of the labor associated with designing these will likely go unpaid but that’s totally cool because I mainly wanted to get this game out there and give it a chance to flourish.

 

9.What do you feel as the KickStarter campaign continues?

The campaign is staying on pace so that’s a good feeling but it’s really hard not to constantly check in and watch every dollar. It’s definitely taking up more mental space than I expected.

 

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10.Amen, dude. I remember how I would check at least 10 times a day basically.How do you feel Zombie culture has changed over time?

The zombie culture has certainly been enriched by being popularized over the past few years. The popularity that’s been created is owed almost entirely to the AMC series ‘The Walking Dead.’ Certainly the movies and comics that came before it paved the way but TWD has swung the door wide open.

Part of this success means that zombies have become ‘mainstream’ and may eventually become ‘too popular’ for the indie kids similar to the way vampires took off after the Twilight series. However, I think zombies being underground for decades before TWD will make this a much longer lasting phenomenon.

Another consequence is a ton of people are trying to cash-in on this zombie success. You’re seeing EVERYTHING being turned into zombies. I guess what makes us different is we’re not merely making a deck of cards with a zombie theme, like I’ve seen with chess sets etc., we’ve made a game that sticks to the spirit of being in a zombie story and it comes from being zombie fanatics for a very long time.

11.Great point there. Will your game have a logic card?I see so many illogical things in many zombie series but its not like its based on real physics and reason is it? LaughOutLoud

 

Yeah I totally agree. Zombies can really open the door to a ton of pseudo-scientific scenarios and to be completely honest we have our own version of the zombie apocalypse scenario. For example, every zombie has a different pace in which the zombies move. Some zombies run and sprint while others shuffle along asking to be killed.

The world we’ve created in Zombie Shuffle has an actual “Cure” to zombification which is usually taboo in the zombie worlds.

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12.Yes, since the logic to curing zombies seems to go out the window and the whole walkers can go through oceans seems a bit absurd?

Exactly, every zombie story seems to have their stretch of reality. The cure in Zombie Shuffle is applied right away and if you look at the design includes an amputation saw so perhaps they caught it before the inspection spread.

13.Interesting. What is the best zombie storyline you said you seen before?

Wow, this type of question always stumps me. When I’m asked to name my favorite movie or book. Hmm…

I mean, immediately TWD comic comes to mind and 28 Days Later but I believe my favorite zombie ‘experience’ might be Colson Whitehead’s book ‘Zone One.’

The book follows a group of survivors tasked with clearing zombies out of New York City. The marines have already swept through and killed 99% of the zombies but these guys are tasked with opening those locked doors in the high rises and camping out in what was previously an enormously living metropolis. I highly recommend it, I’ve heard it described as ‘the thinking-man’s zombie novel.’

 

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14,Ah amazing.If you had any advice to give to other graphic artists, what will it be?

If I had to give one piece of advice to graphic designers, new and experienced, it is to work on projects that your are passionate about. My designs really took off when I began designing flyers and posters for political movements because I was focused on projects that I really loved and had a lot invested in. Just like any skill or talent, graphic design can become tedious and boring but if you can vary up you’re approach and continue to constantly learn then the task in front of you is never boring.

I know a lot of designers are going to hate me for saying this but designers should do pro bono work now and again. It can really make the difference for a small grassroots group or a band’s upcoming show. They will love you forever and you can consider it a small investment. Many times they tell other folks about your amazing work and you get paid gigs later on because of that.

 

15. Ah amazing. Well this sums up the interview. Anything else you would like to say for all of those out there in internet land?

In terms of a broad internet land comment I’d advise everyone to get involved! It amazes me how non-political most people are these days. They’ll complain about issues on Facebook and sign a petition here and there but that doesn’t do anything in the broad scheme of things. At best you’re helping to put out a fire.

Find what you’re passionate about, whether it is healthcare or education or legalizing pot, and go out and make it happen! You’d be amazed, seriously AMAZED, how few of people are working on this stuff. There are groups dying to have more volunteers and organizers involved.

I hope you enjoyed the interview with  Blaise.

What do you think of Zombie Shuffle, Blaise and all of the above? Let us know below in the comments section below.
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