A new card game that challenges players on their knowledge of Black culture is poised to become the next sensation in family game night. And it’s being backed by a Black entrepreneur and curator named Eunique Jones Gibson.
CultureTags is a party game that hit Target store shelves nationwide late last month.
Jones Gibson inked a distribution deal with the big-box retailer in June, just a few months after she launched a campaign to start her company.
“It’s surreal,” Jones Gibson told Atlanta Black Star. “It’s been really difficult to process because it happened so fast as far as the reception, and it happened during the pandemic.”
Timing couldn’t be better for Jones Gibson. Her latest creation unveils in stores just in time for the holiday shopping season. And while the COVID-19 pandemic may have crippled many businesses in 2020, it’s created a demand for fun indoor games like hers.
“Folks have been in the house, and outside of being in the house, people are looking for an outlet,” she said. “We need some joy, some laughter. And that’s what culture tags has ushered in for a lot of people, it has ushered in a bit of joy, some laughter, some nostalgic moments.”
CultureTags evokes memories of the old parlor game Password. Jones Gibson said she’s heard it described as “Taboo but with acronyms.”
Think charades meets Black Twitter, personified with hashtags and flashcards. From funny sayings uttered in Black churches to phrases heard at the cookout, the game delves into all areas of the modern-day African-American experience in a lighthearted way.
CGYM equals “Come get ya man’s.” KMNOYM? You guessed it: “Keep my name out yo’ mouth.” And TANBTD stands for the Black church mama classic, “That ain’t nothing but the devil.”
“It’s not just a game, it’s an experience; and it’s a moment for us to reflect,” Jones Gibson said.
Jones Gibson is the founder and publisher of Because Of Them We Can, a digital news site that initially launched in 2013 as a 28-day Black History Month campaign. She’s continued the site for the past seven years to spread positive Black content.
“Over these last eight years to 10 years, I’ve really tried to elevate and amplify the best of us and doing things for the culture in a very authentic and genuine way,” Jones Gibson said. “I think that has translated into people knowing that if I do something, my heart’s in the right place. I’m going to do it with a certain level of dignity and integrity, and it’s going to be a win for the culture.”
Jones Gibson came up with the concept for CultureTags in October 2019 while scouring social media. She noticed how people were instinctively able to guess the meanings for acronyms of idioms commonly used in Black vernacular.
The acronyms, or “culture tags,” are derived from some of those hashtags.
Within two months, Jones Gibson was developing her idea into a product that she debuted at her family’s annual New Year’s party. The game was a hit and she decided to turn that prototype into a full-fledged game.
In January, Jones Gibson launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter with a goal of raising $15,000. She hit that mark within eight hours and was able to raise more than $35,000.
Soon afterward, Jones Gibson shared her concept with a friend who had connections with Target’s diversity supply team. She pitched CultureTags to the retailer in April and they fell in love with the game. Target signed off and began selling CultureTags on its website in June. The game became a new addition to the store’s nationwide roster Nov. 29.
Jones Gibson recalls seeing an acronym about Atlanta’s response to COVID-19 that went viral in April. It solidified her belief that the pastime of decoding hashtags would catch on.
“My timing was so key because I had a product at that point,” she said. “I was selling the game at that point, which really, really, really helped to capitalize on what was already happening. I saw it last year and was like, ‘Yo, this is gonna get bigger and bigger.’ This is a way to communicate. It’s like our pig Latin. I knew it was going to continue to grow.”
The objective of CultureTags is to decipher the meaning of the letter riddles. A player shows a card that displays an acronym with cultural relevancy in the Black community.
To give clues, players can act out scenes from popular movies and TV shows or hum a tune from a hit song. Jones Gibson said impromptu karaoke sessions often break out or players take a trip down memory lane reminiscing about an old episode of “Martin.”
“It is really about our shared experiences,” Jones Gibson explained. “We’ve all had parents who’ve said, ‘Because I said so.’ We’ve all asked the question, ‘Who made the potato salad?’ But we’re not seeing it in an acronym form, which is why it’s so much fun because you show the card, you give hints. And the objective is to figure out what it stands for before the time runs out.”