No one ever goes to vet school to create a game...but that is exactly what I did.
Ok, ok. That is not entirely true. I didn't got to vet school to make a game. I went to vet school because I thought my life mission was to help animals.
It turns out that my life mission was to help people, and when I tuned into my purpose, Vets Against Insanity sprang out the ether and into the hands of veterinary professionals around the world.
Let me back up.
About 5 years ago I started speaking on the veterinary conference circuit on things like customer service, self care, and professional development. One of my most favorite speaking gigs are the WVDLI sessions at the veterinary Fetch conferences every year. These are my favorites because I have the opportunity to share the stage with amazing female cospeakers AND the conference facilitators let me go hog wild with creativity. To name a few o the wacky activities we have faciliated have included playing 'never have I ever', marched in circles to Kesha's "woman", choreographed power poses, and chose our own adventures.
4 years ago, I was brainstorming in a zoom meeting with Caitlin DeWilde and Karen Bradley (my bad ass sisters from another mother and awesome leaders and business women in their own rights) about new ideas to facilitate adult learning for the upcoming year. I believe I blurted out, "What if we play a game? Like a dirty card game, but the vet version. I just. maybe. think we could use it to teach self care and leadership issues."
God bless those women...they said, "Go for it."
So we did. I cobbled together an initial set of question and answer cards, and sent it over to Caitlin, who fleshed out the answers, magicked the content into Canva, and printed out a couple of initial decks at Kinkos.
Bingo. We had cards, we had teaching material, and we had our charisma. Now we just needed the buyin from the veterinary attendees.
The first time we brought the cards to conference and played the game, I'm not gonna lie, it was rough. I was nervous about what people would think. Were the cards too dirty or 'out there?' Had I finally crossed the line? Would I ever get asked to speak again? The first time, I had a small group of attendees sit up front and play the game for the audience, but it just didn't seem to click. The next time, I handed out answer cards to every person in the audience, threw the questions up on the screen, and then handed the microphone around so that everyone could read their answers to the questions. On the microphone. In front of perfect strangers.
The results were straight up hilarious.
Some people had never been on a microphone. Some people could not understand their answers. Some people were embarrassed to read theirs, but to the hilarity of all (their's included) managed to blurt out things like 'electroejaculator' or 'pull it out before she swallows'.
(It's a reference to an endotracheal tube...you dirty, dirty minds.)
Over and over the room would erupt with laughter, and as they did, the creativity and bravado of the attendees came alive. People had so much fun with it!
We played it over and over, and the rooms began to fill up, until 100s of people were showing up to play the game. At the end of the conference season, DVM360 approached us and asked us if we would like to publish the game.
We published the game, offered it for sale, and completely sold out the first printing within weeks.
That morphed into more teaching sessions with the game, then sponsored game nights at veterinary conferences where perfect strangers would play the game together, laugh their asses off, and be friends by the end of the night. Then came the extension decks...x-rated, vet techs, vet moms. Nothing was sacred, everything was on the table, and it was awesome.
So that's the story of Vets Against Insanity, a game created by two veterinary moms with really twisted minds and an insider view of what it means to be a veterinary professional.
How does that help people?
Well...our profession has been pretty down in the dumps. We don't make a lot of money. A lot of us are up to our eyeballs in student debt. We work long hours at a dangerous job (that we still, somehow love). We deal with emotionally reactive people all day long. We can't save some animals. We euthanize animals. We watch people grieve over and over. We get bullied by our clients when all we want to do is help. We are burnt out and on the edge. We feel isolated and hopeless and too many of us end our lives too soon.
The game, I believe, is a tool for well being and connection. It gives people a chance to laugh and commiserate about a shared challenge. It makes us feel in the know and not so alone. It helps us laugh at something that might otherwise break us. It brings joy to the point of tears (and some peeing. I'm serious. Do your kegels...ladies).
I have sat at game nights watching people playing the game and almost cried with gratitude at the fun and creativity that was generated. I have felt overwhelmed by love and joy at the privilege of bringing something to my colleagues and coworkers that makes them laugh so much. I feel like in some small way, Caitlin and I made a positive difference for veterinarians and veterinary care teams all over, and that makes me feel like I did something good.
And now you know. :-)
If you want to purchase the game for yourself or someone you love (or the extension decks, vet moms is my personal favorite), visit www.vetsagainstinsanity.com
Much love and thank you for reading,