Philly-local, Black-owned card game “Capital Punishment” was created to bring some laughter to the arguments of 2020


“Capital Punishment” game creators (from left to right) Brian Bonner, Derrick Skipper and Julius Aldrich. Photographs courtesy of “Capital Punishment”.
“Capital Punishment” game creators (from left to right) Brian Bonner, Derrick Skipper and Julius Aldrich. Photographs courtesy of “Capital Punishment”.

From the moment childhood friends Julius Aldrich, Brian Bonner, and Derrick Skipper met, laughter has been a central piece of their relationship.

At nine years old, Queen Village residents Bonner and Skipper were introduced by their mutual friend Nicholas Herrera and began “running on each other” with teasing arguments and biting humor. In high school, when Skipper was introduced to the group, they became fast friends through “roasts” and friendly banter. Now, as adults who describe their friendship as more akin to family, Aldrich, Bonner, and Skipper have decided the world needs a bit more of their type of humor.

2020 has not been an easy year for this trio of childhood friends. Rocked by the loss of jobs and the death of Herrera, the best friend who had brought them together, Alrich, Bonner, and Skipper found themselves searching for meaning.


“We were forced to confront that life is short and unexpected. There’s twists and turns,” says Skipper. The group determined that it was time to make the most out of the life that they were given.

“I think it made us reevaluate our risk aversion,” says Bonner. “What’s the worst that can happen?”

And so the group set out to give 2020 what it so desperately needed—a laugh. They decided to follow through on their idea to create a game that brings the humor of their friendship to life and provides a space for the memory of Herrera to live on.

“It’s like making lemonade out of lemons,” Skipper says.

The game takes the men’s tradition of comedic arguments and witty banter to the next level. Players draw cards with the names of pop culture and political references and assume their roles in a kangaroo court. The goal? To convince the “Judge” that the name on their card is guilty of the most obscene charges they can present.

Filling 2020’s need for arguments that are a bit less serious and a lot more fun, the game was sarcastically named “Capital Punishment.”

“The name is a representation of the way we joke around with each other,” says Aldrich. “Some people would take it as a very serious thing, but we tend to have a common humor.”

The three took that idea of commonality and brought it to a more grand sphere. By using names and references that people across the country are exposed to, the group hoped to create a game that would be accessible to everyone.

Once the idea was settled on, the trio of first-time gamemakers began the trial phase of development. In its rudimentary stages, the game was played with packs of index cards, which they took home to their quarantine pods. The game was met with conversations of all kinds, from hilarious moments to philosophical dialogue. Not only did it break up the monotony of quarantine with hilarious conversations, the creators found that it was bringing players closer together.

“It removes all of the different types of barriers to conversations and personalities and really embraces everybody’s own funny bone,” says Skipper.

Inspired by the way the game prompted players to get creative and dig deep, the three friends decided to move forward. As a game making hobbyist, Aldrich was able to finalize the details of how the game worked, while IT professional Skipper did some research online into how to make the physical game itself. Once the crew found a graphic designer and began the production process, Bonner got to work using his skill sets in writing and marketing that he had formerly learned in an audience research position.

While each of their skill sets was used in the process of bringing Capital Punishment to life, it is their friendship that truly allowed them to get through the hard times with a laugh.

If interested in joining in on that laughter yourself and supporting a primarily Black-owned business, you can pre order “Capital Punishment” at CapitalPunishmentGame.com.

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