In a crowded industry of party games propelled by the success of projects like Cards Against Humanity, Nick Pellegrino, creator of Game Quill, LLC and a sophomore double-majoring in computer science and mathematics, is intent on breaking through.
Game Quill, LLC’s first offering, As Good As It Gets, is a card game that Pellegrino has been working on since high school. The deck is broken into “GET” and “BUT” cards, with each player receiving four of each. In each round, a new player becomes the judge, and the other players pick a “GET” card that they believe the judge would like, which is then passed around the participating players until the judge tells them to stop.
Each player then chooses one “BUT” card, which puts a condition on the terms of the “GET” card. For example, a deal offered to the judge using cards from the deck might read “You are immortal, but over the course of one year you slowly turn into a potato.” The judge chooses the scenario they would like the most out of the available options, and the player who chose the “GET” card receives a point. The game is won when one player reaches five points.
The result is a game that’s easy to learn in a few rounds, which was Pellegrino’s original goal. As Good As It Gets allows players to join in while the game is in progress, which makes it ideal for party atmospheres where participants might be jumping in and out.
“I started Game [Quill, LLC] over the summer because I was working on this in high school, and people really liked it,” Pellegrino said. “The joining in and falling out kind of thing while the game’s in motion, that’s kind of something you can get with Cards Against Humanity, and I really like that, so I wanted to try a different spin on it.”
By the time Pellegrino graduated high school, his working prototype of the game had become popular enough in his social circle that he had a list of nearly 100 people who were interested in buying a copy. He said part of his decision in choosing Binghamton University was based on the support he was able to find in becoming an entrepreneur, mentioning Hawley Street’s Koffman Southern Tier Incubator and Tony Frontera, a hot spot entrepeneur-in-residence at BU and a lecturer of business administration in the School of Management, as vital sources of assistance.
“When I was choosing a college and ended up choosing here, I wanted a place where I could find the resources to kind of get myself forward in business even though this business and graphic design stuff isn’t my major,” Pellegrino said.
To aid his business skills, he has participated in business pitch competitions, including the New York Business Plan Competition, which took place last spring. Pellegrino took first place in the Consumer Products & Services category at regionals, and earned a trip to the finals in Albany. Even though he did not win, the opportunity allowed him a chance to network with investors and solicit feedback on how to improve his business model.
Based on the recommendations of interested investors and feedback he has received at game conventions, Pellegrino has expanded his inventory to include expansion packs with additional cards, as well as a junior version of the game suitable for children under 12. Despite the junior version, the original As Good As It Gets is safe for work and doesn’t have the explicit cards that often stand out in more controversial party games. Pellegrino said this helps him target an underappreciated market that has been the core of his early sales.
“I’ve learned that … the target market is actually the parents of teenagers [or young adults],” Pellegrino said. “They want something that is fun for the young adult, but also they don’t want to play Cards Against Humanity with their teenager. They don’t want to play a mature game.”
Pellegrino noted three key aspects that he considers crucial to the game’s chance at broader success.
“It’s got the rules on the back, so there’s no paper to lose,” Pellegrino said. “It is quick and simple to learn. And people can join in and drop out while the game is in progress, which kind of already makes you start thinking, ‘Oh, I can see how I would use it then.’”
Game Quill, LLC’s online shop, gamequill.com, is currently closed as orders are manufactured, but interested customers can contact Pellegrino through the site for updates. The original As Good As It Gets game starts at $29.99.