In 2011, Bushwick-based prop master Jan-Luc Van Damme began crafting the Bushwick Board Game, a Game of Life-meets-Cards Against Humanity “silly underground legend” that was never launched per se, but did land in a select few loft spaces and bars like The Levee, Brooklyn Fireproof (RIP), and Boobie Trap. Because “the hood changes so quickly,” Van Damme has updated the handmade games with new materials every year. And now, for the first time, he has introduced Bushwick Board Game 1.0 to the Apple App Store.
The current version is priced at a cool $4.99 (and is now available on Android too), so when Van Damme offered to meet me at Boobie Trap to play the “gritty Bushwick primer” on his iPad, I obliged. It’s a good thing, too, because this game will bleed you dry of beer money. With one roll of the digital die you and your avatar may be redirected to the G train and instructed to “drink”– “because nobody likes the G train,” says Van Damme. The beer comes in handy when you have to, for example, spank the ass of the person sitting to the left of you.
Game cards address some of the subtle and not-so-subtle nuances of living in the neighborhood, like artistic endeavor, tattooed roommates dependent on mom and dad for rent, and sex on shitty IKEA furniture. Rest assured, there are “a lot of coke references.”
Perhaps now is as good a time as any to tell you that the app is NSFW. According to the app store, it’s rated 17+ for “Cartoon or Fantasy Violence,” “Suggestive Themes,” “Medical/Treatment Information,” “Profanity or Crude Humor,” “Sexual Content and Nudity,” and “Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References.” (The game, for two to nine players, gets a “yes” for “Family Sharing,” somehow.)
Some may view the Bushwick Board Game as superfluous hipster commentary, but Van Damme says it’s a labor of love that “revisits situations people have lived through in a poignant way. Players say, ‘That is SO true’ or ‘That’s happened to me.’” (A point that was punctuated when our third player, Bushwick-based cartoonist Jeremy Nguyen, exclaimed, “It’s true!” after drawing a digital card that said he has a cool new zine and could move ahead.)
Generally speaking, the app version of the game has animations and sound, and updated cards. Players “choose crazy names and play as actual graffiti characters.” And Van Damme added a “taunt” system that “serves as a Mortal Combat-like finishing move.” He’s going to be collaborating with Nguyen (and possibly other artists) to improve graphical elements of the game. “Chances are that if you’re a local artist who would like to be a part of the game, contact me and you can get some work on it,” he told us. There’s also a “contribute” button so that any player can contact him with an idea or opinion while they’re playing.