Friends create pandemic-defying game

Wyatt Hesemeyer created the art for the Featherbrain game. Courtesy image

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In a year seemingly void of fun and smiles, two friends have created a game to undo this debacle.

Enter Featherbrain — a card-based party game made with friends and family in mind created by Winters native Wyatt Hesemeyer and Patrick O’Conner, who previously lived in Winters.

After a serious brain surgery, co-creator and musician, O’Conner struggled with speech and memory loss. Through the challenge of word games, however, he was able to overcome this cerebral challenge with a renewed zeal for spending time with friends and family. Thus, inspiring him to create a game made for making memories.

“His family of close friends is, without a doubt, the most creative, brilliant, inspiring and supportive group to be around,” co-creator Hesemeyer, said of Featherbrain’s genesis. “There’s a story behind every Featherbrain card, all from an endless list of hilarious and meaningful experiences with friends.”

The rules of the game are basic. One player reads a card while the others play cards that are most fitting. The reader of the card then judges the others and determines the winner of the round. The player with the most cards at the end of the game wins.

There are also a variety of laugh-inducing categories judges can choose from including: Fear Bear, Moose Goose, Wackbirds, Best of the Worst and — of course — Featherbrain.

“The game has been created over years of campfires, car rides and good times with friends. I have been a musician, touring around the country in bands where every night is new people, new places and all in the name of entertainment,” O’Conner said about the inspiration behind the game content. “I have seen and written down an endless list of experiences that have been so entertaining and memorable that I could make a dozen party games based on social interaction and what people can inspire and pull out of each other. So, I’ve finally pooled together the most PG-rated list of experiences that can fit the format of the simple mechanics of Featherbrain.”

While social distancing remains the bane to all party games, O’Conner and Hesemeyer created a version of Featherbrain that can be accessed on their website, www.featherbraingame.com, and played for free over Zoom. People can also help support the first printing of Featherbrain by donating to O’Conner and Hesemeyer’s Kicsktarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/featherbrain/featherbrain/description.

“Contributing to the Kickstarter would help the artists and musicians who made this game because our creative outlet and source of income has been halted,” Hesemeyer said on how people can donate to the game’s production. “Hopefully life will be closer to normal by the time it gets printed and delivered to your doorstep. Or, if you don’t want a printed copy, there’s a spot to back the Kickstarter campaign to say, ‘Thanks for the online virtual party I just had with my family on Zoom over the holidays.’”

The pandemic will not last forever, but the hilarity-filled memories that come with Featherbrain will. This game — like all local businesses at this time — could use all the fiscal help it can get, and with all the unrivaled support that Winters is capable of, its success will be a no-brainer.

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