Players try to predict how the rest of the group will answer outrageous questions, divided into five categories: Pain, Fear and Discomfort; Appearance and Embarrassment; Food and Ingestion; Ethics and Intellect; and Random.
On a turn, a player chooses a category at random by drawing a colored stone out of a pouch. That player then reads the question silently and decides which of the options the group as a whole will choose. Next, the question is read aloud and the group debates it, attempting to arrive at a consensus answer.
The debate portion of Zobmondo is the most interesting part. Learning how and why someone would answer the question, "Would you rather pee in your pants at your wedding (in front of everyone) or not be able to stop laughing at your grandmother's funeral?" can be quite revealing.
If a player correctly guesses what the group will say, he moves forward one space on the scorepad. After getting six answers correct, a player must come up with his own Zobmondo-style question -- with the goal being to divide the group. The first player to accomplish that wins.
Game inventor Randy Horn took some time to answer a few questions about Zobmondo and his future plans for what he sees as a strong brand name. (An earlier interview with Horn is also available.)
Given its content, Zobmondo seems to be at the edge of the envelope for a large, mainstream company like Hasbro. Were you surprised they had an interest?
I was a little surprised but I knew and I still know that my game is the most original concept out there right now. Its edgy content makes it very promotable and there really isn't anything else out there right now with cutting edge content in the box.
I know that Hasbro is attempting to reach the Generation Y market and games have not reached that market successfully in some time. There is not another game out there that is more suited to this market and I think that Hasbro recognized that.
You started selling Zobmondo at the 1998 American International Toy Fair. When did Hasbro first approach you with interest in the game?
After our first year of strong sales, Hasbro approached us at the 1999 Toy Fair.
The Hasbro version of the game has no board (replaced with a score pad) and comes packaged in a smaller but more colorful box. What other changes were made?
Very few. The concept is still very true to the original game. The content is largely the same. Some of the most twisted questions from the original game have been removed in favor of some questions from our Lite game but all the content is original Zob content from our original two games.
They even used the satirical warning from our box on their packaging. I must have been doing something right since they made so few changes to my original product.
What's your opinion of the changes?
I am actually very happy with the changes Hasbro has made.
How has having Hasbro pick up the game changed your life?
It has changed it some. It gave me credibility that my twisted idea is viable and creative. Some people (even toy/game industry veterans) thought that Zobmondo could never be sold in the mass market but we are proving those people wrong.
I now have a syndicated Zobmondo TV show in development as well as a full fledged licensing program in the works. We are receiving interest from all areas including wireless, interactive software, Internet, publishing, cartoon syndication, apparel, gifts, novelties, etc. I expect to have Zobmondo products of all shapes and sizes on the market by the end of next year.
I am very busy with Zobmondo and we are continuing to build the brand. I would love to continue creating new versions of the game. I think that it is possible to grow Zobmondo into a force much larger than just board games. Board games have always been just a small part of my master plan for Zobmondo.
Has the success of Zobmondo exceeded your initial belief in the game?
I have never been overconfident about Zobmondo's potential success. I am thrilled and thankful for the success we have had. But honestly, I have always thought that, with the right partners, Zobmondo could grow to be an absolutely enormously successful and widely recognized brand. We have not even scratched the surface of what I believe Zobmondo can become. I have a lot more to learn and a lot more to achieve with Zobmondo... but the ride has been -- and continues to be -- rewarding and educational.
Your business plan for Zobmondo finished third in a class you took at UCLA. Do you have any idea what happened to the two plans ahead of it?
As far as I know, nothing came of them. Actually, one was a medical technology idea and you never know about the commercial viability of those things. The other was an expansion plan for an existing business. I never heard anything about it after that and I know that the guys who did the plan moved on to something else.
Here's a Zobmondo question that was very popular at a gathering of About.com Guides; I'd be interested in your answer: Would you rather have a little man with a pick living inside your mouth hitting your teeth constantly, or have a little bird sit on the end of your nose and pick out nose hairs at its discretion?
Without the benefit of a Zob discussion, I think that I would choose the little man with the pick. Bluntly, pulling out nose hairs hurts like hell.
(For the record, the About.com Guides were almost unanimous in choosing the bird pulling out nose hairs -- we theorized that, eventually, you would run out of nose hairs...) Thanks to Randy Horn for taking the time to answer these questions.
This article was originally posted on Aug. 28, 2000.