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TGN Interview: Elan Lee of Exploding Kittens

TGN Interview: Elan Lee of Exploding Kittens

TGN contributor and Ravage Magazine’s EIC Jared Miller managed to get a moment of Elan Lee’s time to quickly chat about the “Most Backed Campaign in Kickstarter History,” Exploding Kittens.

Exploding Kittens took everyone by surprise, including the creators of the game. The three people behind this Russian Roulette of combustible cats are Elan Lee, Matt Innman, and Shane Small. Elan and Shane bring to the table an extensive history in physical and digital game design, while Matt (creator of the insanely popular The Oatmeal) brings his unique art style. Together, they formed an unstoppable powerhouse. Elan took a minute out of his incredibly busy schedule to answer a few questions about the group’s successful Kickstarter campaign. Enjoy!

Jared Miller: Were you surprised by the success of Exploding Kittens?

Elan Lee: Surprised is what happens when you find a bit of time left over on the meter you just parked your car in front of. This melted our faces.

JM: How does it feel to break all of the tabletop gaming Kickstarter records out there?

EL: Good? Really good? Joyously, enthusiastically dancing on the tables, while feverishly high fiving until our palms hurt, then wrapping them in moist towelettes and high fiving some more?

JM: When the game was designed, was Matt’s (of The Outmeal) wonderful art always in mind?

EL: The game was originally called Bomb Squad when Shane and I were developing it. When Matt came on board, he suggested we change the name to Exploding Kittens, “because…the internet.” Everything else fell into place at that point as if it was meant to be.

JM: Do you think having a well-loved brand and unique art tied to a Kickstarter project is key to success like Exploding Kittens has seen?

EL: There’s a TON of design that went into this campaign. I think the version of the video on the Kickstarter page is version 14, and months went into designing and redesigning the wording, the art, and the game. But if you’re asking if you should ask The Oatmeal to join your fledgling card game before you put it on the internet, the answer is yes.

JM: A lot of games have stretch goals; however, Exploding Kittens had none at the beginning. Why?

EL: We’ve recently announced a few. In fact, the Kickstarter community reached a stretch goal that unlocked a complete second deck called The NSFW deck. This means that we’re actually going to be making two separate decks of cards. The games are identical, but the art on the NSFW deck is everything we couldn’t put in the regular Exploding Kittens deck and still claim it was safe for ages 7 and up. As a result of this expansion, we’ve tweaked the rules a tiny bit to make it so that combining any two decks allows you to play the game with up to 8 players.

JM: How are the Cards Against Humanity guys helping on this project?

EL: The CAH have been huge in helping us put this together. Even before we launched the campaign, they introduced us to their printer (, hooked us up with their fulfillment arm, and gave us tons of advice on the do’s and don’ts of Kickstarter. Also, they showed us their new office in Chicago and made us drool…a lot.

JM: Do you plan to bring Exploding Kittens to friendly local gaming stores or will it remain an online product like CAH?

EL: Absolutely. We have pretty extensive plans for the game in the future, but right now we’re staying laser focused on shipping the cards to every single backer as quickly as possible. Everything else is on the back burner until we fulfill our commitment to all the people who made this possible.

Our thanks to Mr. Lee for taking time from herding exploding cats to talk with us. The Exploding Kittens Kickstarter has made it up to just over $4.8mil and they’ve still got 20 days left to go. Who knows where this crazy coaster will end?