Gamification of social interaction: How to make a card game


A picture of 2 Special type Highlanders cards.

Since the dawn of humanity, we displayed a desire for conflict, an unexplained craving for brutal brawls, and fearsome fights. All of ancient history was shaped by conflict. However, humans evolved and wars became more deadly but spread out. 

Humanity no longer had its outlet for conflict. Trying to find a way to satisfy this desire, they turned to things like card games. Thousands of years later, my friends and I are making our own card game. 

Making a game requires a lot of work, an unexpected amount of money, and a good idea. Our game is based on the friends in our friend group. Each card has a rating out of 100 and relates to an event, an inside joke, or just a person in our friend group.

 So if you’re looking to make a card game you’ve got to start with an idea, you need inspiration. Once you have that you need to design the game. 

“It all started as a rating system for people in our group chat, but we eventually moved it on to something that could be more interactive,” said junior Peter Morano, a design helper on the game.

Our game has been compared to a mix between War and Risk. In the game, players use cards to fight for control of 7 zones. With boost cards and other auxiliary cards making combat more interesting, it is always a fun game to sit down and play whenever you have 5 empty minutes.

“I feel like it’s really important to make gameplay for a game interesting and not very repetitive,” said junior Joel Lippolis, a gameplay designer on the game.

Once you have created a game you can always be open to changes later. Our game has had issues of repetitiveness in the past.

“I’ve definitely noticed that when playing the game people tend to do just the same strategy of overpowering their opponent instead of trying to do more strategic things,” said Lippolis.

To rectify this issue, we have introduced gameplay changes after release in the form of new cards. 

“Yeah so we got more cards in, and that should really make strategic methods more viable and will make the game a lot more interesting to watch especially,” said Lippolis.

These new cards each have individual properties and abilities. Some influence dice rolls and others influence gameplay.

Once you have your game it is important to design cards, you can use any drawing program as long as you know what dimensions your cards will be. This part takes arguably the most time and energy. 

Our game has 350 plus designs and it has taken an entire group 3 months to get to that point. I recommend working with a design philosophy designed for repeatability so you don’t need to spend time designing every aspect of each card.

“We base it [designs] off of like, the personality of people in our group, special traits that they have. For instance, if you’re funny, if you’re smart, etc,” said Morano.

Once you are ready to print you can use 3mil lamination sheets on the 5mil setting on top of 110-pound cardstock if you want to print yourself. However, doing this takes time and requires equipment like corner rounders and precision paper cutters.

You can always use a service like Make Playing Cards, a website that prints custom cards. I recommend using the m31 linen material on US standard playing card size. As it is a higher quality print and can survive out of sleeves for much longer.

If you do decide to use a service like Make Playing Cards, be prepared for long wait times. Also, I recommend getting sleeves no matter what you print on, just to be safe. 

When you get your hands on the cards it can be difficult to distribute them. We opted to do a sports-style draft so that people can select cards based on the strategy they want to employ.

To keep people engaged, creating an Instagram account can be a great way to remind players of events and new cards being released. 

If you plan to do an official league, have a website for your game to keep track of standings and tournaments. This can also be a good way to profit from your game, but you will need a license to sell online. is our site, we are working on the site but have yet to finish.

Card games are fun to play with your friends, but when your game incorporates inside jokes and more personal references, the fun is a lot more fun.