Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University. This week, Thorne offers up some insight on poop games and the gross market trend.

Well, given that the most popular toys in 2020, and the most popular item in toys for last year all featured poop, I guess it is not too surprising to see games coming out in the hobby channel with poop as a major feature of gameplay (see "Pegasus Spiele Reveals 'Poo Poo Pets' for Release into the U.S. Hobby Channel").  Mass market games, primarily aimed at kids, have featured poop and other gross-out topics such as farting, pimples and boogers for a couple of years now so I guess hobby games, wanting to attract kids (who have loved gross things for decades), should look at this as a trend worth following, though the most successful of these games appear to focus on the tangible or audible aspects, rather than the game play.

I don't know if there is a market for these sorts of games in the hobby channel, as the only ones I remember having any success were Breaking Games’ Poop and Neat Games' Too Many Poops, which sold okay but not great.  Personally, I would much rather see Euro Games’ Grass or Khemper Games’ Weed or Deluxe Weed become much more readily available in the hobby channel.  We sold hundreds of copies of both over the decades before the legalization of cannabis (and still sell quite a bit of Stoner Fluxx) in many states.  Now that its use is much more widely accepted and legally available at the state level, though still illegal at the federal level, seeing a game company make a strong push to bring either or both back into hobby distribution seems a timely move.

The above does tie into a  discussion in the FLGS segment of the industry as to what types of games are appropriate for a store to stock and what qualifies a store as a “family friendly game store,” a significant topic of conversation amongst game stores mid-decade when Cards Against Humanity sales boomed (see "Rolling for Initiative--RPGs, 'CAH,' 'YGO' and the Philosophy of the Store").  Store owners discussed whether to stock Cards Against Humanity and its offshoots, or not to.  On the one hand, we had store owners who saw themselves in the position of gatekeepers and curators, working to select the best games available for their customers.  While they did not dispute the right of those other games to exist, they also did not want to expand their product mix to include the new “offensive party game” category.  On the other hand, other store owners looked at the demand for CAH and decided that, given the number of calls received weekly for the game, taking the money made much more sense than continually telling customers they did not stock the game and sending them to Amazon.

Given the trend in the offensive party game category, it would appear that, those store owners that decided to add CAH and its ilk to their product mix made the right decision early on.  With CAH available for purchase in Barnes and  Noble and Target alongside Jenga and Harry Potter merchandise and dozens of games that adopted the “judge format” popularized by CAH (and before that by Apples to Apples, but the CAH publishers never mention that) in both safe and "Not Safe for Work" formats, such as Exploding Kittens and Unstable Unicorns.  It is not surprising that, if there is enough customer demand, a poop or other bodily function-themed game will, with little discussion, make it onto store shelves.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of