While many people are pursuing art or taking the time to get some much-needed sleep during quarantine, a Provo family developed a card game.
Dallas Brown and his family lived in Provo for eight years before making the short move to Orem. Originally from Brigham City, Brown moved to the Utah County area to pursue an education as a student athlete at Utah Valley University.
After graduating from the university with a bachelor’s degree in business management, Brown broke out into the entrepreneurial industry, working to oversee the marketing departments of several local companies beginning in 2009.
Brown helped found a Salt Lake City company in 2016 and had been named the company’s chief marketing officer when he and his wife recognized an unusual occurrence in their neighborhood in Orem.
In the span of a few short months, one child lost his battle with cancer and another teenager died by suicide. Brown said it made his family stop and think.
“It had us take a step back and look at what was important in our lives,” Brown said. “We wanted to make sure that we had some type of adventure and more opportunities to spend time with our kids.”
In November of 2018, Brown and his wife sold everything they owned in Orem to travel across Europe with their four children. Brown said they made the decision as a way to ensure their kids understood they were a priority in their parents’ lives.
The parents also wanted to ensure they had the time to spend with their children, especially in light of the realization that life doesn’t always go according to plan.
“It was crazy, but awesome,” he said. “My kids got to live next door to the Colosseum and castles, and they got to see Venice. We were at Notre Dame right before it burned. There were a lot of amazing things our kids got to see.”
The family of six found themselves back in Utah only a year after they began their adventure after Brown discovered a business venture in the Utah County area.
The opportunity involved an app that would align families with activities in their area to get parents and children to interact and communicate more. The app was expected to launch before the coronavirus pandemic swept the state.
The app, however, did not launch as expected as families were forced into quarantine, including Brown and his family. In the midst of that quarantine, Brown and his family began developing a coronavirus-related card game.
“Just like everybody we were stuck at home with our kids,” he said. “As a family, we play tons of games. We play a lot of games all of the time. There wasn’t much to do, and after you play the same game so many times, you get sick of it.”
The card game, later named Surviving Quarantine, started as a family joke with pieces of paper and sketches of various characters made in pencil. The family took inspiration from what they saw happening in the world around them and transcribed it into a game.
Brown and his family turned shoppers hoarding basic necessities, stores running out of toilet paper and people becoming upset with cruise ships into elements of the card game.
“We just thought it was basically one large cartoon that we were living,” Brown said. “That’s when we came up with the game to help our kids understand what’s going on and bring some humor to the situation so they weren’t as scared.”
The game tasks each player with surviving viruses — such as Steeple Syndrome, Unicornculosis and Puppet Baby Rabies — while the world tries to adapt to the new normal.
Vaccines also can be introduced, however just like the viruses themselves, they don’t make any sense, he said. Vaccines can include hand sanitizer showers, toilet paper armor and water bottle forts, but there are other ways for players to survive the game without a vaccine.
Brown also included bailouts and anti-vaccination advocates in the game.
“Everything that we’ve seen over the last few months is used in this game to bring some levity not just to kids but even adults,” he said. “My kids thought the cards were funny but even the jokes are more for adults and the inside perspectives we’ve experienced over the past five months.”
After weeks of speaking with neighbors and family friends, Brown decided to pitch the idea on Kickstarter in hopes of helping more people enjoy the game their family had fallen in love with.
Leading up to launching his project on Kickstarter, Brown joined a number of forums for advice. While he had been involved in a number of new companies, Brown was not familiar in Kickstarter’s process and wanted all of the help he could get.
When he explained to other members of the forum what he was planning, they told him to wait.
“They all told me not to launch it,” Brown said. “They told me to build it out for 10 months and then come back in a year, that it wouldn’t get funded. It was a rough go for a little bit.”
Brown ignored the advice, launching the campaign in hopes of having the project funded and ready for the Christmas season.
The Kickstarter reached its $10,200 goal in less than a week, and with nine days left as of Tuesday, the project has amassed just over $13,800 between 329 backers.
Through the Kickstarter campaign and the development of the card game, Brown said he and his family discovered a community of like-minded people who are able to laugh about some of the more absurd things that have happened this year.
The Kickstarter campaign ends on Aug. 27. Backers who contribute $20 or more will receive a copy of the game. Backers who contribute $30 or more will receive additional rewards, as well.
After the Kickstarter ends, the game will go on production. Brown is hoping to have the game sold on Amazon and an original site so it is available to more people.