Mark Eash Hershberger ’10 creates connections with new “Mennonite Game” card game

By Abby King

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 their various ties and experiences, such as realizing that someone is your “brother’s roommate’s sister’s ex-boyfriend’s high school teacher,” according to a Hershberger’s description of the game. While Hershberger originally 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 of the game and felt as if it were ready to be shared.

With the creation of a Kickstarter campaign and a quick post on Facebook, Hershberger’s card game was soon being shared among dozens of interested patrons. His initial goal was to raise $3,750 – just enough to fund the production of the cards. However, within 48 hours of sharing the campaign, Hershberger’s goal was met and funds kept rolling in. So much so that “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.”

The Kickstarter campaign will end on Friday, Nov. 3.

Mark Eash Hershberger explains how his game “The Mennonite Game” works in a Kickstarter video.

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 a lot during his time at Goshen College 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 said he 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.

It’s clear that the three years Hershberger spent perfecting “The Mennonite Game” card game was worth it. He began designing the game writing on index cards to work out the mechanics after the game. From there, Hershberger began illustrating the cards. Each card in the deck has meticulously detailed illustrations and designs of of characters and events, many of which have Mennonite characteristics. In fact, there’s even a card with an illustrated Menno Simons on it. After the illustrations were completed, Hershberger play-tested the card game with his friends and family.

For those wondering whether you have to be a Mennonite to play the card game, 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. But there are a lot of aspects that people who are not Mennonite can relate to and appreciate,” Hershberger said.

The goal of the game is to create the most connections, and to do that, players must collect 10 character cards. Character cards 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. The game combines simple connections with strategy to create a fun card game for everyone.

The fall after Hershberger graduated from Goshen College with a degree in art and a concentration in graphic design, he married Lauren Eash, also a 2010 graduate. He, a Harrisonburg, Virginia, 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 back to Goshen after two years in Oregon. Hershberger is currently the media arts designer at River Oaks Community Church. His family also grew, and he is now the proud father of three little boys: Jonah (4), Charlie (2) and Leo (one month).

For those interested in purchasing “The Mennonite Game” card game, Hershberger suggested purchasing the game through the Kickstarter campaign, located online at Hershberger is unsure as to whether the game will be available for purchase elsewhere after Nov. 3, when the campaign ends. However, Hershberger is inquiring about getting the card game in bookstores at the various Mennonite-affiliated institutions, as well as bookstores in heavily populated Mennonite areas across the United States.