Open 2 Design’s Matt Burtonwood on the origins of The Psychopath Test
Matt, it’s always fun to tie-in. You have a new party game with Golden Bear that’s about to debut at London Toy Fair – The Psychopath Test! Where did the idea for this one come from?
It was one of those moments where you think ‘Oh, that would be a great premise for a game…’ And then you have to work out a mechanism to deliver on that premise. Anyway, I think we’re all familiar with your classic psychopaths…
Ha! As in…
Norman Bates from Psycho. You know, the horror movie types. But we’ve also come to realise they walk among us…
I feel I need a smoke machine to do this conversation justice.
Ha! I’m talking about your high-performing Fortune 100 business leaders. They share a lot of the classic psychopath characteristics! This game is about looking at those characteristics – things like vanity, a lack of empathy for animals – and trying to work out if your friends and family members are psychopaths.
This is done by answering questions. Is there an official way of measuring how someone’s answer indicates they’re a psychopath?
There’ll be a lot of people asking if this is based in science and the answer is ‘possibly’. In all honesty, the questions in the game do tie into proven psychopath traits and characteristics. It’s a cool mechanic. You all get to vote on how you – and the other players – would react in certain situations. For example, one of the questions is ‘Should you put chocolate in the fridge?’
I do put chocolate in fridge.
No! It makes it taste like waxy water Billy. It should be at room temperature. So your answer puts you in the psychopath camp. It gives you three points on the psychopathy scale.
I’m in shock!
You shouldn’t be – that’s an obvious one! Other questions relate to how you place a toilet roll on a toilet roll holder; whether you pull the paper from the front or back. Is greed good or bad? Are black bed sheets good or bad? Do you prefer Elf or Home Alone? Do you live for today or plan for tomorrow? Do you wear sunglasses inside? Do you eat breakfast cereal after 10AM? It’s essentially about judging people based on things that irritate me.
It works well with friends and family, but it also works with people you don’t know as well. So you draw a question and everyone votes for what they would answer with – as well as guessing what everyone else would answer. Then everyone gets the corresponding points – the more points you get, the bigger the psychopath you are. Whoever has the lowest psychopath score at the end wins!
Golden Bear is launching this later in the year. What made them a good home for The Psychopath Test?
We met them at the Mojo Pitch last summer. We had a good chat and pitched them some games. They’ve been great to work with. The premise for the game was solid, but we gave them a concept that needed some work gameplay-wise. With that, they said: “We need to push this. It’s a really good game so let’s take our time to work it out.” So it was great for them to have that confidence in it. It’s always nice when someone sees what you see in a game.
And you also worked with The Fantastic Factory’s David Snow on this one?
Yes! I met up with David the night before the Mojo event to go over some games and he liked The Psychopath Test, so we decided to work together on it. And he’s been a great amplifier to what we’re doing.
Great stuff. And when does the game launch?
After debuting at Toy Fair next week, it’ll launch in the summer.
Brill. Before we wrap up, I wanted to ask about your current slate of licensed games, because you only started the invention arm of Open 2 back in 2018?
Yes, the first item we licensed was Rubik’s Cage. That’s still doing well – and we actually have our first knock-off on amazon! And it’s selling for twice as much as Cage which is interesting! We also have Rubik’s Roll with Spin Master, Play Your Number with Ginger Fox and Flipping Burgers with Bubblegum Stuff. We also have Ahoy There with TOMY and a toy item coming out soon with Character. We pitched it to them at last year’s Mojo Pitch and we’re very excited about that.
We also have a game coming out with a European company later this year and we’re excited about that because they do really beautiful games. There’s also an exciting launch happening in 2025, but I can’t talk about that just yet!
Exciting times. My last question! What’s the most underrated toy or game that you’ve worked on?
On the agency side of the business, we worked on the Thomas & Friends Minis line. We designed the platform for the trains and also did all the artwork for the limited-edition versions, from obscure US candy brands to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and SpongeBob.
It was the LEGO Minifigure of the Thomas world! We also did a Comic-Con DC exclusive where the box lit up as you opened it. It was a huge exercise and it’s still going.
Beautiful! Matt, it’s always a pleasure. Let’s tie-in again soon.
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