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Theory.org.uk Trading Cards

I hadn't really anticipated this, but people are writing to me about the cards. (I've even had a response from the trading card company Topps -- see below).

So here's some letters.

Rene Zepeda from Salt Lake City writes:

Very, very cool. How did you tap into my unconscious for the 'psychologists' card? They're like 'cliff notes' for the attention deficit disorder jet set.

Rene Zamora Zepeda
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Thanks Rene. To show that the cards are not merely for those with attention deficits, here's a thoughtful email from another card game designer:

Prof. Galina Sganenko from Warsaw writes:

The idea to prepare playing cards with descriptions of sociological theories and views of theoreticians is wonderful. I have thought about it but in Russia it is not useful and possible and profitable. But I have had very important experiences in my search for interesting ideas to make educational card games. In particular, I myself, with my young daughter Lena, designed and produced the card game "Europe for leisure and pleasure" or "Europe for all times" or "Europe always with you". (I use different names for it). The main ideas for it were that the information on the cards should be systemic, and rules for playing should be "organic". (The cards would be for playing, not for studying. In this case the educational results would be received as a consequence as playing, the wish to win, using optimal tactique of a game, and without any efforts).

I produced 25,000 copies of the game, and distribute about 18,000 copies in Saint-Petersburg in Russia. Also I have ogranized some public competitions among different groups - for teachers, the general public, and in schools.

As for your game, I have learnt not much from this introduction of the game. But if I understand correctly, you are going to crowd each card with a lot of useful but not systemic information. The first mistake is too much information. The second is that the information is the "non-systemic" character of the information (from the point of view of playing). The third is connected with the rules for playing. "Strengths", "weaknesses", etc seem to be very boring. I think it is possible to find some systemic basic facts to connect different cards, and find scores and points for ideas, which are relevant to the sociological matter of the game. If you are interested in my approach to educational games, let me know.

Galina Saganenko
Designer of the game "Europe for pleasure",
and Professor of Sociology, Centre for
Social Studies, Central European University.

David replies: Thanks for these thoughts. It's true that more readily comparable facts or statistics would improve this as a game. But I chose to put hopefully-educational material on the cards, and then a bit of comment in the 'strengths', 'weaknesses' and 'special skills'. They are designed to be collectable cards, more than they are part of a card game. I have indeed written card game rules, but they're not meant to be taken too seriously. As a game it may be a bit useless. But I stand by my cards!

In my mind it's a bit like the Pokémon cards, which may be pretty to look at, but the game seems so complex that you'd have to be quite dedicated to bother. There you have it: my trading cards are for people not sufficiently dedicated to bother!

Ilsa Jule from Topps, the Trading Card producers, USA, writes:

As the only transgender employee at the Topps Company, I was thrilled by your trading card set. I am annoyed that you only have 5 cards in the set. Do you plan on creating more? (I hope so). Also, have you thought of doing subsets? What about relic cards? [...] How about applying new technology: a limited edition foil or holographic set? Embossing?

I'm glad you took a look at the Pokémon series and keyed into the very real threat of fraud. You wouldn't want to exit the subway in the morning to find that your cards have been mass produced without your permission and are being sold on a folding card table along with CD bootlegs of DMX and NSYNC. That would be a real bummer.

A final note: I just walked down the hall and spoke with our non-sport editior who confirmed that Topps cards would indeed be produced in association with the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. We were thrilled to have finally inked that deal. I then went and spoke briefly to a marketing director who projects that bootleg sales of the cards will probably outsell the licensed version, but Topps does expect to turn a "modest" profit. The fact that the set will be produced in French will limit marketing possiblities in the U.S., but we expect robust overseas sales.

Ilsa Jule
Web Content Coordinator,
The Topps Company, USA

Great to get a response from Topps, who are the big US trading card producer -- they even did the famous Mars Attacks cards, which Tim Burton then based a film on. When I saw I had an email from someone at 'topps.com', I feared it would be a legalistic rebuke of some sort. So thank goodness it was lovely Ilsa, who seems to have understood the spirit of the series! But I should have known that the Ecole Normale Supérieure could not be trusted.

Meanwhile, in Spain...

Luciana Rogoski from Barcelona writes:

Summer fun!!! Played all day long with a bunch of friends and had mine covered in plastic so they wouldn´t wet at the beach. Psychos got really mad at me, but i won all their Giddens cards! Waiting for the next ones!

Luciana Rogoski
Barcelona, Spain

See, Luciana has made up her own rules, and still seems to be having fun.

Robin Page from Sussex, UK, writes:

Too groovy. Can't wait to get out the cards and start swapping under the table during a particularly boring lecture on de Certeau, he he. Keep up the good work!

Robin Page
University of Sussex

Boring lecture? Pardon? 

Kym from New Zealand writes:

If the cards are for real, then i want to know where I can get them in New Zealand. I have a lecturer who is immersed in postmodernism and I think they'd be cool for class =] ha ha ha

New Zealand

Disappointment for Kym, then, but the cards can be downloaded and printed to a full professional standard!

Angela Lauria from Switzerland writes:

These trading cards are incredible!!!!!

I can't wait for more. What an awesome idea. Thanks.

Angela Lauria
European Graduate School
Saas-Fee, Switzerland


Prof. Jerry Rosiek from Alabama, USA, writes:

This is GREAT! Very good fun. Please create many more! These trading cards are incredible!!!!!

Jerry Rosiek
Professor of Educational Research
Univeristy of Alabama

Even professors of education go a bit crazy when faced with the pedagogical advance which is the Theory.org.uk Trading Cards.

Geoff Lealand from New Zealand writes:

Well, I am stunned and astounded! They will go nicely in my wallet, next to my "Official Critics" card. My 13 year old son helped with my reading of the 'Psychologists' card -- he tells me the images are versions of Professor Oak, of Pokémon fame!

Geoff Lealand
University of Waikato,
Hamilton, New Zealand

Ahem. Any resemblance to Pokémon pictures are purely coincidental.

Geraldine from Christchurch, New Zealand, writes:

Your cards are fab. I did a presentation about postmodernism for a feminist studies paper, and passed the Butler card 'round to great effect. Afterwards I organised a proper card swap session with the girls.

University of Canterbury,
Christchurch, New Zealand