This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Goshen grad makes connections with ‘Mennonite Game’

GOSHEN, Ind. — While plenty of Mennonites have played the “Mennonite game” — the Anabaptist version of six degrees of separation — only a select few have played Mark Eash Hershberger’s version. But that’s about to change.

Hershber­ger, a 2010 Goshen College graduate, created “The Mennonite Game” card game, where players strategically “discover that they are connected in various ways” through drawing cards and using ties and experiences, such as realizing someone is your “brother’s roommate’s sister’s ex-boyfriend’s high school teach­er.” While Hershberger began creating the card game three years ago, he only recently shared the side project with the broader community after he finalized the design and logistics.

2010 Goshen College graduate Mark Eash Hersh­berger created “The Mennonite Game” card game, inspired by Anabaptists’ interest in finding ways they are connected. — Goshen College
2010 Goshen College graduate Mark Eash Hersh­berger created “The Mennonite Game” card game, inspired by Anabaptists’ interest in finding ways they are connected. — Goshen College

With the creation of a Kickstarter campaign and a quick post on Facebook, Hershberger’s card game was soon shared among dozens of interested patrons. His initial goal was to raise $3,750 to fund production of the cards. However, within 48 hours of sharing the campaign, Hershberger’s goal was met, and funds kept rolling in. “Stretch goals” such as thicker cards, more character and event cards, and shipping to Canada became a possibility.

“It was huge to get that support from everyone,” Hershberger said. “That really spread the word fast. . . . A lot of people I don’t know have shared [the Facebook] post. It’s been really helpful.”

Hershberger began creating “The Mennonite Game” card game after he decided to push himself to create a product that implemented his love for design and illustration, which he said grew at Goshen while he took a handful of figure classes.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to sell it,” Hershberger said. “I just wanted to have it to just challenge myself. I like having side projects.”

When it came time to figure out what his side project would be, Hershberger stuck with what he knows best: Mennonites and card games.

“I thought it would be interesting to have a card game where your objective is to put characters together in a way that is basic but also challenging and strategic,” he said.

A game for everyone

Hershberger began designing the game by writing on index cards to work out the mechanics and then began illustrating the cards. Each card has meticulously detailed illustrations and designs of characters and events, many of which have Mennonite characteristics. There’s even a card for Menno Simons. After the illustrations were completed, he tested the game with friends and family.

Hershberger said that while the title may seem like only Anabaptists can play, the game is for everyone — no matter their faith identity.

“There are some event cards that are specific to Mennonites, like Menno Simons and Mennonite Conference,” he said. “But there are a lot of aspects that people who are not Mennonite can relate to and appreciate.”

The goal of the game is to create the most connections. To do that, players must collect 10 character cards, which are gained through collecting connection cards.

With the right amount of connection cards, players can draw a character card, such as “girlfriend” or “dentist.” Event cards are used to affect the play of the game, causing players to draw more cards, skip a turn and more, combing simple connections with strategy.

The fall after Hershberger graduated from Goshen with a degree in art and a concentration in graphic design, he married Lauren Eash, also a 2010 graduate. He, a Harrisonburg, Va., native, and she, a Goshen local, moved to Oregon to work as service leaders for Mennonite Mission Network’s Service Adventure program. Within a year, they became pregnant with their first child, and relocated after two years back to Goshen, where he is media arts designer at River Oaks Community Church. He is now the father of three boys.

To purchase “The Mennonite Game,” Hershberger suggests going through the Kickstarter campaign. He is unsure as to whether the game will be available for purchase elsewhere after Nov. 3, when the campaign ends. However, he is inquiring about getting the game in bookstores in heavily populated Mennonite areas across the United States.

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