Growing up in Stoughton, Nick Prueher never found the “boy” games he played at sleepovers to be a good way to get to know his friends.
Plus, they tended to include “ritual torture,” he said, laughing.
Wanting to create a modern, inclusive replacement to retro sleepover games, Prueher told the Hub he was inspired to create Dream Crush. The party game, which came out last month, is available at local stores.
Dream Crush, which is geared toward those 16 and up, is what Prueher describes as a fresh-take on beloved 1990s games, which can be a bit problematic, he said. He said he was careful to make his game LGBTQ community friendly and create diverse characters.
Essentially, players are trying to guess which character their friends are “crushing on.” For example, a character who “makes their own home-brew kombucha” and “is still going through a ska phase,” might be red flags for you but, unexpectedly, your friend’s type.
Prueher said it’s a good way to get to know your friends better, meet new people and spark some interesting stories.
“It really does work with all sorts of groups,” he said. “I thought initially it might just be something that this style of game was just fun for my group of friends and I as goofs--but I found that it was far more universal.”
Touring around with his friend and fellow Stoughton-native, Joe Pickett, with Found Footage Festival--a comedy show featuring old VHS footage, Prueher would occasionally break out his “homebrewed” game.
About 18 months ago, one of the participants was Tim League, CEO of Mondo Games. He was quite the fan, Prueher said, and it took off from there.
“So we started sort of honing it in and making play tests and refining it,” he said.
Prueher said he was able to have a very hands-on role in developing the game, but also work with some talented creators such as Chris Bilheimer. He designed the colorful “Dream Crush” box and is known for his work on 90s album covers like Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” and REM’s “Monster.”
Prueher, who has a background in comedy writing, said he stumbled into this bit unexpectedly, though games have always been a key part of family parties and high school hangouts. Settlers of Cataan and Risk were enjoyable, but Prueher said there was never much room for deep conversation with friends when focusing on military operations or farm management.
It was during these years that Prueher and Pickett, would wander through Stoughton and Madison thrift stores for old, comical VHS tapes to watch, memorize and act out in each other’s basements--and what would later turn into the Found Footage Festival.
And while digging around, Prueher said he uncovered lots of decade-old games aimed for girls at sleepovers. Games designed for girls to talk about things like boys, secrets and their feelings with each other.
Prueher said him and his friends were surprised at how fun these games were.
“Everybody came in with an open mind, and we actually had a ton of fun,” Prueher said. “It really led to some interesting discussions, you learn things about other people. The problem was that the games needed a series of updates, especially with today’s understanding of gender, diversity and things like that.”
Those old board games inspired Prueher to create a game on business cards, an early version of Dream Crush.
Prueher said the response from game-review websites and players has been great. He is planning a virtual event in April featuring himself and some surprise celebrity guests, and hopes to create extension packs, like Halloween or other seasonal versions.