Rachel with her game in front of her
Rachel (Erickson) Gunning is a May 2014 graduate of the WSU College of Nursing. Photo by Sarah Schaub.

Rachel Gunning has been a NICU nurse in Spokane for three years. Now she has a Kickstarter campaign to launch a card game.

The first thing isn’t the cause of the second. It’s not like she’s disillusioned with nursing.

But the card game may make her a better nurse.

Gunning, a 2014 WSU College of Nursing graduate, explained: “I love my nursing job. But you have to fill your cup on your days off so you can give the very best care possible to your patients.”

The idea for the card game arose last summer. For nearly 50 years, her big, far-flung family has gathered for a week at the Rainbow Beach Resort near Inchelium, Washington.

“We were sitting around the campfire, enjoying each other’s company,” said Gunning, 26. “My cousin is a creative guy, and he said, ‘Let’s make a game to catch up on each other’s lives.’ ”

They called it Asking for a Friend, and it was so much fun that Gunning and two cousins decided to try turning the experience into a product.

The game is based on question cards, like “Who is a celebrity you’d like to _______________?”  or “Would you consider ________________ for $5,000?” Each player writes down their answer and tosses it in a bowl. Players take turns pulling answers from the bowl and reading them. “This is where the embarrassing stories, hidden opinions and hilarious explanations come out,” the game’s promotional video notes.

Then a voting card is selected, like “Answer most likely to be made into a horror movie,” and players vote for the best answer based on that criteria. The person with the most votes gets a point, and the player who wrote the winning answer gets a reward card that can be used to alter game play.

With two weeks to go, the Kickstarter campaign is only about 10 percent under its $5,000 goal, and Gunning and her cousins are confident. If they reach the goal, the money will be used to print the cards and packaging. They intend to market the game on Amazon.com, and through social media.

Though video games get the most attention, card games, board games, and other “tabletop gaming” is a booming business. Sales of hobby games in the U.S. and Canada reached $1.44 billion in 2016, according to trade magazine ICv2.

Kickstarter has had a big influence on that growth. A card game called “Exploding Kittens” was the most successful Kickstarter project in 2015, and Kickstarter earnings for tabletop games grew sharply from 2016 to 2017.

When she’s not working in the NICU at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, and not working with her husband on their new house, Gunning is working on the game.

“My life revolves around nursing,” she said. But, “this is a great way for me to escape that on my days off.”

–Story by Addy Hatch