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Why You Need to Play “We’re Not Really Strangers”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Have you ever played a game that made you cry? I hadn’t either until I played We’re Not Really Strangers. What started out as a sort of social media movement with thought-provoking, visually appealing, heart-slicing Instagram posts and Tik Toks has now become an up-and-coming game that offers you the chance to dive deep into your relationship with friends, ex-friends, lovers, ex-lovers, and yourself. 

(@werenotreallystrangers Instagram post)

Last semester, I played this game with six of my close friends here at Duke. But unlike traditional games, this one wasn’t about “winning,” it was about empowering meaningful connections. Sounds intimidating. In theory, it IS intimidating but with the right people, it’s nothing of the sort. 

The game took us through a series of questions and icebreakers on red cardstock that required all players to be vulnerable and do some heavy group and individual reflection. The careful categorization of cards into three levels: perception, connection, and reflection, resulted in a calculated nosedive from a surface level bond to the cavernous depths of friendship. To give you a sense of some of the questions, I’ll put some spoilers below.

First, we all started the game by answering: “What was your first impression of everyone playing.” We wrote down our impressions on thin pieces of paper, crumpled them up, and saved them to read at the end of the game. After an entire game, it’s crazy to see how first impressions are either affirmed or proven wrong. 

One of the “wildcards,” a red-colored card as opposed to the normal white cards, read: “What is something you want to achieve within the next year. Pick a player to do this with. Write it down and hold each other accountable.” What’s empowering about this card is how it enables action. By writing down and having someone else read your goal for the year, you are actively manifesting it – making it more likely to actually happen.

And for a last little teaser, one of the cards asked: 

(Image by We’re Not Really Strangers accessed on HypeBae)

This is one of my favorite cards because there is nothing better than revisiting fond memories and there is nothing more special than realizing this beautiful truth: we all find happiness in our own unique ways. There is something so remarkably comforting about hearing friends talk about the things, the people, the places that make their smiles form and souls dance. 

These cards and this game reinforced my professor’s words from my final psych 101 lecture, “Human life is profoundly shaped by our connection to others. – Dr. Bridgette Martin Hard” I’m still in awe of how a tiny red box held the key to the deepest mutual understanding I have ever formed with a group of people. I have never been so vulnerable but felt so loved and accepted all at once. It was a very real, raw, and rewarding experience that gave me an even greater appreciation for the sheer power of human connection. 

If you need yet another reason to click Add to Cart, believe me when I say this game can be played at any stage of a relationship. Talk about versatile… this game is an insane icebreaker for budding friendships (skips the small talk) but it also has the potential to bring you closer to the people you thought couldn’t get closer. 

In summary, this game is life-changing. But only if you fearlessly lean in. In every relationship, there are things that are left unsaid – either because they are thoughts that are purposefully suppressed or ones that were never given the opportunity to be said. This game provides that opportunity. You are the only person who knows everything you’ve been through. Everything you have gained. Everything you have lost. Every struggle and triumph that thickened your skin. We have the power to decide what we share with others and this game helps you test the limits of what you’re willing to reveal and encourages you to embrace every part of your story. For a game that I consider to be priceless, $25 is a sweet deal.

Liv Hayward is a first-year at Duke studying public policy and education. Outside of Her Campus, she is a tutor for Duke's Computer Science Sidekicks non-profit, a volunteer at the Canine Cognition Duke Puppy Kindergarten, and a proud member of Duke SHAPE. She is an avid runner, skier, writer, and environmentalist.
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