June 25, 2023
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/fartofwar/
Ben: Well, welcome to a very special (very special) and stinky podcast episode of the Ben Greenfield Life show. This is a special episode because it's probably coming out on a day you're not accustomed to me releasing a podcast, maybe a little bit shorter than the podcast that you are accustomed to hearing from me, because basically, my guests on today's podcast really don't have much to say at all. They're pretty empty heads. Introducing my sons, River.
Ben: Say hello. And Terran.
Ben: Terran's voice is a little deeper.
Terran: It is a little deeper.
Ben: What'd you do, smear some testosterone cream on your neck or something when you were twelve? Give yourself a month ahead. Took a little extra liver. How old are you guys now?
Terran: We're 15.
Ben: Both of you are 15. Now, is it true that you just got your driver's license, Terran?
Terran: No driver's permit, but close.
Ben: Permit. Well, we're going to go out to dinner tonight, actually, to celebrate what we're about to tell you in today's podcast. And Terran is going to drive.
River: Hopefully it ends well.
Ben: Big truck all the way downtown. So if you never hear from us again, that's what happened.
River: I'll be writing my will in the car.
Ben: That's right.
Terran: We're good.
Game Closet Discussion
Ben: Well, it's funny because if you're watching the video version of this episode, we're in our kitchen right now, and there's a stack of games. Fuzzy Logic, Idiomatic Addict, Road Trip, Bears vs Babies. All these games piled up in front of us, even PooPocalypse, which is a fun one. Not necessarily to have these games as big visual segments, but more they're just like propping up computers and stuff.
Terran : Yeah. Well, that’s what PooPocalypse is.
Ben : This podcast wouldn't happen without PooPocalypse. But we have a huge game closet. This is relevant to what you're going to learn in this episode. We have a huge game closet. I would say at least a hundred games and counting.
Terran : 50 or more. I wouldn’t say.
Ben : If you count little card games. Yeah, a lot. We have been collecting games like little game addicts, probably since you guys were maybe like five or six.
Terran : Probably. Yeah.
Ben : The way that things go down in our home, and I think I've talked about this on a podcast before, is we are all over the map during the day. Like, we have a family meditation in the morning where we all gather. It's a fun one, guys. Right?
River : Yeah, it’s fun.
Ben : The family huddle. And then after, we do Bible reading and prayer and hangout and meditate for a little bit in the Family Huddle. We all kind of, like, make plans about what's going on for dinner and who's got to be where during the day. And then we all have a big hug and we go off and do our thing.
Terran : That's right.
Ben : And we're, like, together, but not together. Like, we're seeing each other all day long and hanging out. And sometimes we're throwing little workouts and breath work here and there.
Terran : Sometimes lunch, you know.
Ben :Exactly. But the party starts about what time?
Terran : 7.
River : Sometimes 6:30.
Ben : 6:37. Party starts. And by party, what I mean is we all gather in the kitchen, and at that point, we've all kind of, like, prepared our contribution to the evening meal, which let's name off some of our favorites.
Terran : Steak.
Ben : Steak.
River : Carrot fries.
Ben : Fries. Carrot fries. Cucumber salad.
Terran : Mom’s sourdough bread.
Ben : Mom’s sourdough bread. I usually do the meat,
Terran : Yeah, you do the meat.
Ben : Yeah. Steak, fish.
Terran : I like Mom’s Asian salad.
Ben : Asian salad. We use the air fryer a lot. Fried pickles. A little preview of what's to come. Fried pickles we make. So everybody just, like, brings together all this amazing food, like a family potluck that we've all made. And then we have a song. Usually, River and Terran and I go through a book together.
Terran : Yeah. That’s true. Discuss the chapters.
Ben : Yeah. We use the time before dinner as discussion time. So we're always holding each other accountable by reading one book together, typically at the cadence of a chapter a day. Sometimes it's spiritual life. Sometimes it's self development. Sometimes it's, like, becoming a better writer. It really varies. We did, like, Rick Rubin's The Creative Act last month, and then we did one called Pascal's Wager, which is–Pascal's Wager. Yeah. Which is like an apologetics book. Right now, we're doing one by Doug Wilson called Mere Christendom. So more than just Captain Underpants and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. For sure. So we go through these books, which I've been doing with River and Terran since they were knee-high to a grasshopper, so to speak.
Terran : Wait, on discussing books?
River : Yeah.
Ben : Yeah. And so we come together at dinner. We discuss a book while mom sits there and drinks her wine, because mom doesn't like to read. And then, we basically all sing a song together, say a prayer, and then the party begins because we bust out a game, and we play games probably six nights in a week. Yeah. And so we eat. All of our games have, like, grease–mostly my fault–because I eat with my hands. I find I have a more intimate relationship with my food when I eat with my hands. So there's lots of chicken grease and old bits of carrot fries and salt and oil and stains and Primal Kitchen ketchup.
Terran : Someone else comes up like, “what’s this?”
Ben : You could probably feed an army with our game closet, just with the food particles that are left on the games. But basically, we play a game all during dinner, and sometimes we talk in between plays. And so there's some talking. It's not like we don't get to know each other. But a big focus, even when we have dinner guests over, is the games get broken out. What are some of our favorites?
Terran : Oh, Chameleon.
Ben : Chameleon.
River : I can’t think of one.
Terran : Exploding Kittens.
Ben : Everdell is amazing. If you guys want to get Everdell.
Terran : Quiddler.
Ben : Quiddler. We should tell people about our modified rules for Quiddler We'll get to that, because that plays a part in what we're about to tell you. Also, and similar to Quiddler, Five Crown. We sometimes play card games. Canasta, Canadian Fruit Salad, which barely anybody knows about. Yummy yummy. But it's fun. Rich Christensen, former podcast guest, called us that one. Hearts. So anyways, you get the idea. Sometimes, like on a Sunday night, we'll pick out the longer games, like Everdell or Catan or Ticket to Ride. Sometimes on the weekday nights, it's something shorter, like a card game.
Benefits of gaming for all ages
Ben : And we really like it because it helps to teach not just River and Terran as children, but Mom and I and the adults who play with us, everything from logic to rhetoric to game theory, to math, to reasoning, to argumentation, to conflict resolution, to creativity, especially to drawing. Like some of our drawing games, which are way upgraded from pictionary, like Monstrosity is really fun.
River & Terran : Telestrations.
Ben : Telestrations, which is like the telephone game, but with drawing. Anyways so, so many life skills can be learned through the process of gaming and learned in a really sneaky way. Like when my mom used to sneak vegetables into our spaghetti sauce to get us to eat vegetables because we didn't like vegetables very much.
Terran : Yeah. Cilantro.
Ben : It's a way of teaching through fun.
River : Oregano.
Ben : Yeah, exactly. Or like how I sneak Organified greens in with my wild plant pesto.
Terran :Or you put the red juice with your brisket.
Ben : Notice how I snuck in a sponsor right there.
River : Oh, yeah.
Ben : I'm a podcasting veteran, you guys. So anyways. Go to Organify dot whatever. So anyways, we got to the point where for many of our games, we started making up house rules. Like, good example would be Quiddler, a word spelling game. It's like scrabble with cards. We just bought an extra deck, harvested the cards from the extra deck we bought, put all of our special family rules. Like if you draw this card, you can spell a card. You can spell a letter or word in any language you want.
Terran : If you use any letter in your first name. Double the point.
Ben : Double the point.
River : Discard your entire hand.
Ben : You can discard your entire hand if you draw this card. So we have, for a long time, made up little rules. We'll modify games and make them more fun or more interesting or more advanced with our family rule modification. So we've, for a long time, kind of been thinking outside the box. See what I did there with games.
River : Game box.
Passport troubles in Costa Rica
Ben: So anyways, this is going to feel like a total disconnect to you guys if you're listening, but here's what happened. So I'm part of this entrepreneurial mastermind group. It's really fantastic, called Mastermind Talk, put on by my friend Jason Gaynard, who wrote a really good book called Mastermind Dinners: Build Lifelong Relationships by Connecting Experts, Influencers, and Linchpins. But every year, basically, what Jason does is he finds an amazing, fantastic, five star resort and has all these entrepreneurs. There's like a hundred plus of us, usually with our families or our spouses or both.
Terran: At some really fun hotel.
Ben: Yeah, come and hang out at this fun hotel for, like, talks and fancy dinners and surprise events and getaways and it's amazing. And so this year–you're listening to this in May of 2023, if you're listening to it when it comes out–this year, Jason found this place called Andaz Resort in Costa Rica. And I've been to Costa Rica once. You guys never been?
Terran: Never. Well, that's not true. We did go, yeah.
Ben: We'll get to that. Anyway, so we decided, “yeah. Oh, hell yes.” on Costa Rica. For us, Inland Washingtonians, in the middle of the winter, Costa Rica, all in. So we've got, like, our resort reserved. And we've got stuff like surfing lessons planned, and we were planning on maybe doing a little spearfishing. This amazing adventure all put together. So we get on the plane and we fly to Costa Rica. And it was a beautiful trip.
Terran: It was like sunset. Everything was green.
Ben: Flying in over the island.
Terran: It was beautiful.
Ben: Mom and I had just gotten back from Mexico like, two weeks prior, but either way, we were like, “yes, we're not going to miss out on Costa Rica.” So we fly in, and it's beautiful. And the whole trip was super smooth. It was like, “pinch me now, I'm dreaming.” Nothing went wrong. All the bags checked perfectly. With international travel, it can be iffy.
Terran: Sometimes, it goes wrong
Ben: But we were just like, oh, my gosh. And our flight was like ten minutes early. So anyways, we get to customs, we go through customs. Scan River’s passport. Okay. Scan Terran’s passport. Yeah. And then scan Jess’ passport. Then we scan my passport, and they look at me and they're like, “this passport is no good.” And I'm like, “oh, no no. I just got back from Mexico. I was just using this passport like, two weeks ago. It's fine. It's actually a relatively new passport.” And like, “no, this passport was reported lost or stolen.” And I can feel my heart rate kind of going up just a little bit because I'm like, danger zone, danger zone. And in the back of my head, I can start to hear this little whack whack whack whack. You guys probably saw my face turning red a little bit. I'm like, “no no no no. You see, like, we just spent the entire day flying here from the US. We're here to go see a bunch of friends in Costa Rica. And this passport works fine, see?” Now this was on a Sunday, so there's nobody working at the embassy. There's very little staff at the airport. And they inform us that the policy at the Costa Rica airport, if your passport doesn't fly in terms of getting into the country, is their rule is they have to send you packing on the first plane back to the US.
Terran: That’s right. I remember this.
Ben: River and Terran and Jessica could have gone to Costa Rica. We could have, but we didn't want to split up as a family. And we're big into staying together as a family and just like, staying solid with all each other and supporting each other no matter what. So security comes in. We've got like three security escorts and they weave us through. After nearly an hour of deliberation at customs, we realize this isn't going to happen. And I'm already calling and texting all my friends who are already in the country and they're making calls to the embassy, which of course isn't answering because it's Sunday night. And they're calling all their big wigs in Costa Rican government because I'm in full humility. Some of my friends who are at this event, they're power players, they know people and then they're like, they're not going to call the President of the US. But that type of thing. They're calling politicians back in the US. And long story short, is my phone's blown up, but there's no way we're getting in the country. And the next flight back is like to Newark, New Jersey.
Terran: Not to mention that. But the flights are all delayed.
Terran: We do it like, 7 hours.
Ben: So we sat in the airport for 7 hours with police following– Every time we go to the bathroom, police had to go watch me pee. And they had to escort us everywhere we would go, like to buy a coffee. And the cops had to come along with us. They did give us like, I think it was like a $10 value.
Terran: I think at the end of the day, they were like more tired than we were.
Ben: Oh, the cops were fading. It was turned into a game. It was turned into a game for me like, because I started like, walking and pacing back and forth in the airport. So I was just trying to wear out the cops. So anyway, so we got to fly back to New Je–It takes us 24 hours to get home. We're like, sleeping in airports. We're exhausted. We finally get home, and we look at our calendar, and we're like, oh.
River: We got a week.
Ben: We have nothing to do for the next week because we canceled everything to go to Costa Rica. So we're thinking, let's make this fun. Let's do a staycation, and we can maybe have some River and Terran’s friends over for sleepovers, and Mom and I could go on a date, and we could just maybe do a little early spring cleaning. Super fun. And so we just start to make lemon out of–lemon out of lemonade. That's backwards. Lemonade. Lemonade out of lemons. Sweet tay out of lemons. And so one night, River and Terran decided we're going on a Father Sunday because we like to do dates. Sometimes, we'll do one-on-one dates where Mom will take one of the sons to one restaurant, I'll take a son to another restaurant, and then we come together afterwards for dessert.
Terran: Sometimes me and Dad sneak up on Mom and…
Ben: We'll sneak up on each other if one of us finishes early and hijack the other team's dinner. Sometimes we'll do dinner at the same restaurant but reserve tables on separate ends of the restaurant and be together, but not together because there's different conversations that happen when you're one on one with your dad or with your child or with your mom than when you're by yourself. So we decide we're going to go to this little tapas joint in Spokane called de ESPAÑA, a new Spanish restaurant we want to check out. So we go out to dinner, River and Terran and I do. And as we're going through dinner, we start to come up with the idea for what we think would be a really funny card game. We often make up words at our house. Like, if something is amazing and cool, we'll call it like
River: A video podcast, a vodcast.
Ben: Amazul. I think vodcast is already a word. I think. I don't know.
River: It’s not in the dictionary.
Ben: Or a video, I think it's called a vlog. Video blog. A vlog. Or chicken and waffles, chaffles. That's what we have for breakfast. We just make up words, and we do a lot of word play at our house. And for some reason, we had been talking about a book that River and Terran, I believe you guys have gone through this book, Sun Tzu’s book. So they were right in the middle of reading Sun Tzu’s book for one of their schooling programs called Art of War.
Terran: The Art of War.
Ben: The Art of War. And we thought, you know what's funny is FartOfWar.com. FartOfWar.com. FartOfWar.com. Isn't that fun? And wouldn't it be funny if there was, like, a game where each player has a bunch of cards in their hand that are actual farts? Like the princess fart, the nuclear fart, the celiac disease fart–which we later dished the idea of so as not to offend anyone with celiac disease.
River: The gluten fart.
Ben: The whey protein fart, the gym fart, the yoga fart. And each of these farts is in different players hands that are dealt out to them. And then players can make their fart stronger or weaker, like with a modifier card. Like if you get the really weak princess fart, you could modify it and make it more powerful with more points by equipping the princess with an Indian food modifier. Or hot sauce. Broccoli casserole.
Ben: Or a match. And you could also make other players’ farts weaker by playing on their fart, like potpourri or peppermint oil if they have some super strong fart, like an old man fart. And so then, we thought we could also have special action cards. Like what if you could lay like a blame it on the dog card when you lay your fart card where people don't know how much power your fart actually has.
River: Gas mask.
Ben: Or a gas mask card that lets you deflect another player's attack. My favorite is
River: My favorite is the cheek lift.
Ben: The cheek lift. Sorry about the dog. They get excited when we start talking about farting. We even have a dog fart. The dog fart card. The blame it on the dog card. Those are two good cards in this game. And so we hatched the idea for this game that very night at dinner. That's the background of how we came up with the idea for a new game. And we thought, well, that's interesting and maybe we should just make this game on some index cards and start playing it at home. So we started making these index cards and began to design this game on blank white index cards. Matter of fact, that very week, when we went to a coffee shop for like 3 hours.
River: People's Waffles.
Ben: People's waffles. And the coffee shop next door. By the way, if you're ever in Spokane, People's Waffles. Farm to table waffles.
River: We're going to de ESPAÑA tonight. And we had waffles this morning.
Ben: And we do waffles and de ESPAÑA today in celebration, in celebration of this podcast comes full circle. So anyways, what we did was we designed this whole game and we started to play it and it's hilarious and it's fun and we're like laughing the whole time. And there's so many fart jokes happening during the game. And you got like your cloud and your barracks and there's attacks and there's farts and there's smelliness and there's stinkiness. It's incredible. And so Mom and me and River and Terran are playing this thing. And one night, as I was preparing, I was actually preparing a special recipe for this cookbook I'm launching in a few months, the sequel to Boundless Cookbook. See what I did there? I did a shameless plug.
Terran: That’s the second one.
Ben: And a recipe in that cookbook. Speaking of air fryers, it’s for air fried pickles, which turned out to be amazing. That you literally like, you thin slice pickles or you thin slice–we just make our own pickles. So we had like big old cucumbers that have been fermenting, but you could use regular pickles, like Bubbies or whatever. We thin slice them, you dry them–that's key to getting the crispiness. You dredge them in egg and coconut flour, sprinkle them with a little bit of olive oil and then air fry.
Terran: Did we use Tartary buckwheat or coconut?
Ben: I think we used, we've used a couple. We used Himalayan Tartary buckwheat for one. I think we use coconut flour for another. But anyways, you guys get the idea. So we're sitting there eating fried pickles. I forget what we had with fried pickles. I think it was like chicken, actually. And I said, “you know what, guys? We need to launch this game and call it our new gaming company, Fried Pickles Games, with our very first game being FartOfWar.com.” And we, as a father-son business, have officially launched a brand new game company called Fried Pickles Games, with our newest first game being FartOfWar.com.
Terran: You have a lot of other ones lined up, though.
Ben: Now, we have been working. If you guys have been watching me on Instagram or these guys on Go Greenfield Show on Instagram, you may have noticed a lot of little behind the scenes videos of us three up to a lot of business design. Card design drawings, illustration, talking with manufacturers, hiring COOs and assistants to help us with all of the different marketing and manufacturing aspects, the Kickstarter campaign. Everything that we're in the process of dialing in, much of which is going to be live by the time you listen to this episode, which is super cool. We've got our first official test game going to manufacturing in two weeks to get the actual version sent to our house, which is amazing. We have been working tirelessly behind the scenes. I've been teaching River and Terran, feeding through the fire hose everything I know about slack channels for games and hiring a COO and negotiating pricing. And we've got this great guy, Tomr. Shout out to Tomr Han. He's our operations manager, and him and his team are helping us a ton with all the different moving aspects of launching a card game. And this thing is actually coming to life. So much so, in fact, that not only at the time you're listening to this is FartOfWar.com live, but Fried Pickles Games. We've already mapped out our next two games that we're going to be designing. Is it five now?
Terran: Yeah. We've like.
Ben: Well, I'm losing track. There's at least two that I know are for sure going to happen.
Kickstarter campaign details
Ben: So basically we thought, well, the only way to actually launch a successful card game is you have to drive a lot of traffic to the Kickstarter campaign and to the website close to the game, close to the time the game comes out. So we thought, well, we have podcast listeners River and Terran do for their cooking podcast at GoGreenfields.com. And then at BenGreenfieldLife.com, I thought, well, gosh, I should tell all my listeners about this because A, I think playing games together as a couple or as a family or at a family union or with a bunch of friends is so fun. And B, I'll bet a lot of people who listen to my show would be interested in checking out this new game. And we've got a ton of perks. We're doing like bathroom spray, FartOfWar.com branded bathroom spray. We're doing boxers and brief with your favorite fart character on the butt of the boxer and brief. Special branded whoopee cushions. So when you go check out the Kickstarter and the launch of this new game, there's all sorts of cool insider perks that you get, because if you're listening to this podcast, you're one of the first people to know about the launch of this new game. So it's called FartOfWar.com.
Ben: FartOfWar.com, and you can check it all out. It's actually ready. And if you go to FartOfWar.com and you sign up for the email list over there, we're also going to be looking for test players and test families for this game. So if you want to get your hands on a test version and you're on the email list, there'll be an email coming out about how you can get a free copy of the game sent to your house to test. And it's a couple of card decks. It's super simple. This game is going to be super easy to learn. It's hilarious. We worked a lot of funniness into this game. The player who's the stinkiest player goes first. And from then on out, the fart jokes and the fart puns ensue. So it's been incredible and it's also been a fun father-son journey.
River: It has.
Ben: I love you guys.
River: I love you.
Ben: Love making fart jokes to you guys. So anyways, we've got the whole game design. It's at FartOfWar.com and we think it's a pretty good game, if we don't say so ourselves. So here's how you can help. That's right. And plenty more games to come with the Fried Pickles Gaming company. We might be full of hot air but out of both ends. So we need your help. We need your help because we have never launched a gaming company before, never launched a game before. This is our first game and we want to make this thing go viral. So if you have friends who like games, if you guys like games, if your parents like games, if you have like a team retreat or a corporate retreat where you guys are going to be playing games. If you go to FartOfWar.com, then you can sign up on the email list. I don't know if the game is going to be available for purchase when you listen to this podcast, but it's available for pre-release. So if you go there, you can get in the Kickstarter for special perks. This game is going to be on Amazon, on the website, on Kickstarter, anywhere find games are found. And just so you guys know, we go to the movie theater like maybe once every six months or so, tops. But we go buy a new game at least once a month. We're going to buy a new game tonight, actually. It's the best $20 to $25 that we spend every month because we get hours upon hours of fun for like a quarter of the cost of taking the family to a movie theater
Terran: For 2 hours.
Ben: I'm not a popcorn guy. I usually sneak my own food in like a dark chocolate bar.
River: I'm a popcorn guy. Last time I snuck in my own popcorn and it was garlic eat filled the theater.
Ben: Yeah, it was no secret that you snuck your own popcorn in. But anyways, buying games is such a great investment, something we've been doing for a long time. I don't want to sound like a used car salesman now, but you should definitely get this game. And we need your support because we want this game to go big time and put a smile on a lot of people's faces and bring a lot of families together over the dinner table laughing, getting greasy ketchup and mustard stains on their fart cards, which is even more gross when it's a fart card. Yeah, it's probably good on brand for the fart card.
River: Actually, yeah.
Ben: Especially if you have leaky gut syndrome to have food particles on your fart. Any of you knows about gut science understands the carrot slices and corn and the crap metaphor. So anyways, River and Terran, did we miss anything?
Terran: I don't think so.
River: I don't think so.
Ben: Okay, well, you guys, we're so happy if you stuck it out for this special podcast episode. Again, the whole game is at FartOfWar.com. Check it out. Support the show. And if you want the show notes for this episode, you can go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/FartOfWar. BenGreenfieldLife.com/FartOfWar. Check it out.
It's time for a big announcement: I and my 15-year-old twin sons River and Terran have been up to a very special, top-secret, behind-the-scenes project that we are now officially unveiling. This one is guaranteed to get your fart rate – er – heart rate up, so keep reading if you want to know our deepest, stinkiest secrets that we're about to unleash on the world – and how you can help!
This entire story starts with an unexpected turn when a passport mishap unexpectedly stranded our entire Greenfield family back home in the USA – instead of the tropical paradise of Costa Rica.
This unplanned staycation becomes the catalyst for a moment of inspiration that led to the birth of a new venture—a father-son gaming company called “Fried Pickle Games” and our very first hilarious, stinky, and extremely fun-to-play game for all ages: The Fart of War.
The Greenfield’s Gaming Closet
Let's begin at the beginning: our giant Greenfield family “Gaming Closet.”
At the heart of our home, in the basement closet, lies a towering stack of board games that plays a vital role in the rhythm and routine of our lives. You may have caught a glimpse of them, innocently propping up computers during this podcast video, but their role is far more significant than serving as cheap computer makeshift stands.
Indeed, traditional games like Catan, Monopoly, Scrabble, Hearts, and Texas Hold ‘Em along with more unique modern games like Quiddler, Chameleon, Squirmish, Fuzzy Logic, Idiom Addict, Road Trip, Bears vs. Babies, Everdell, and even the entertaining Poo Pocalypse form an integral part of our family fabric.
With a game closet boasting an impressive collection of well over 100 games, you might be forgiven for thinking we're a family of game addicts. And you wouldn't be entirely wrong.
The Greenfield family infatuation with gaming dates back to when the days when River and Terran were five or six. A tradition took root, born from our deep desire to foster analog connection and shared experiences in a digital world increasingly dominated by screens. It's a gaming tradition that, to this day, forms an essential part of our daily routine.
See, each day (and yes, nearly every day is like this!) at the Greenfield house typically begins with a family meditation, a blend of Bible reading, prayer, and mindful meditation, and a final cherished “family huddle” to kick off the day. This is a moment where we set our intentions for the day, plan for the evening meal, and share a group hug before we disperse, each going our separate ways to navigate our daily tasks. Sure, we cross paths throughout the day, especially since I work from a home office and my sons are homeschooled/unschooled, but it's the mornings and – as you're about to discover – the big party in the evenings when we deeply connect and hang out together as a family.
Anyways, after our morning family meeting, our paths cross sporadically throughout the day—such as brief moments shared during workouts, breathwork sessions, or the occasional communal lunch. But the real magic happens around seven in the evening. This is when we all reconvene in the kitchen to combine our culinary contributions, creating a veritable feast of family favorites like baked or broiled fish, barbecued meat, carrot fries, cucumber salad, assortments of delicious greens, and my wife Jessa's delectable sourdough bread.
But our pre-dinner ritual involves more than just cooking; we also use this time to hold each other accountable by reading and discussing a book together. The chosen text varies from spiritual and self-development tomes to guides on becoming better writers. For example, currently, we're working our way through Doug Wilson's Mere Christendom. Before that it was Rick Rubin's The Creative Act. Before that it was Naval Ravikant's life advice book The Almanack of Naval Ravikant, and before that Bruce Shelley's Church History in Plain Language, and before that Garrett Gunderson's financial book Killing Sacred Cows…you get the idea. This tradition has been going on for so long that it's hard to remember a time before it and is a wonderful way to share knowledge in a systematic and calendared way.
Once dinner is served, and we've sung a song and said a prayer together, the real party begins.
The games are taken from their closet, and the dinner table officially transforms into a battleground of strategy, chance, and family banter. Whether we're playing Exploding Kittens, Ticket to Ride, Everdell, Quiddler, or any of the other numerous games in our collection, these moments spent laughing, debating, and strategizing together are invaluable.
Of course, our games have certainly seen better days, showing their battle scars with pride. Chicken grease, carrot fry remnants, olive oil stains, and traces of Primal Kitchen Spicy Ketchup proudly mark game cards and game pieces, hinting at the countless meals each game has accompanied. It's this blend of food, games, and conversation that makes every dinner in our home feel like a special occasion.
As we navigate these game-infused evening rituals, we discover a balance between playful competition and heartfelt discussion. Even when we have dinner guests, new friends, and strangers over, playing games form an integral part of our shared evening experiences.
So, what does this game-centric lifestyle have to do with our lives beyond the dining table? Well, I'll unravel that as we continue this journey.
The Benefits of Playing Games
Board games have a magic of their own, an ability to transcend age groups, and engage players of all generations. Over the years, our family game nights have transformed into a fun-filled educational avenue, teaching us invaluable life skills in the most entertaining way possible. From logical thinking and game theory to argumentation, reading, writing, arithmetic, conflict resolution, forward-thinking processes, and creativity, the list of valuable life skills these games foster is endless.
Our gaming adventures are as diverse as they are engaging – and we have an enormous variety of games that range from math-based games to spelling and word scramble-type games to rhetoric and speaking games, and beyond. For instance, drawing games like Monstrosity and Telestrations have taken us far beyond the boundaries of traditional Pictionary, unlocking a world where creativity thrives via hilarious doodles and sketches shared with friends and family. Not only are these games an absolute riot to play, but they're also incredibly educational, albeit in a very sneaky, subtle way.
Just as my mom used to slip veggies into our spaghetti sauce to ensure we were getting our nutrients, or in the same way I harvest “weeds” like dandelion from the backyard to make wild plant pesto (yes, that one is in my cookbook!) these games quietly instill essential life skills amidst all the laughter, amicable argumentation, and rivalry.
Importantly, one of our go-to tricks to keep things interesting is to introduce a variety of house rules to our favorite games. Take Quiddler, a word-spelling card game akin to Scrabble. Over time, we've crafted a unique set of Quiddler rules, enhancing the game's enjoyment and challenge, leading to us even needing to buy multiple sets so we could use Sharpie markers on extra cards to make up our own rules, like spelling a word in any language you desire, passing your entire hand to the right, getting double the points if you spell a word that contains letters in your first or last name, etc.
These tweaks and modifications to traditional rules have long been a part of our Greenfield gaming tradition, and serve as a testament to our creative spirit and desire to think “outside the box” (see what I did there?) when it comes to games. We're continuously exploring and identifying ways to make games more fun, more challenging, and more educational.
It might seem surprising, but gaming has become a conduit for learning and growth in our household, proving that board games are much more than just a source of entertainment. They're an enriching experience, filled with lessons in strategy, negotiation, and critical thinking, perfect for all ages.
Not to mention, playing games together teaches the importance of knowing when to take risks and when to play it safe—insights that extend far beyond the gaming table, into real-life situations. It's clear then, that the benefits of gaming extend much further than just spending quality time together as a family. They also provide a platform for continuous learning, where each roll of the dice offers a new opportunity for growth.
Passport Troubles in Costa Rica & An Unexpected Staycation
In May, my family and I had planned on attending Mastermind Talks – a fantastic entrepreneurial mastermind group organized by my friend Jayson Gaignard, author of the book Mastermind Dinners: Build Lifelong Relationships by Connecting Experts, Influencers, and Linchpins. Jayson had selected an exotic location for the event – the amazing Andaz Resort in Costa Rica, to be precise. Now, for inland Northwest Washingtonians like us in the heart of a frigid winter, a warm Costa Rican adventure was a no-brainer. So my family and I packed our bags, excited about hanging with friends, surfing lessons, and even potential spearfishing in Costa Rica's warm waters.
Fast forward to our arrival in Costa Rica after a perfectly smooth trip, with even our flight even landing ten minutes early. Everything was going as fantastically as possible. However, as we stood in line at customs, the officer announced in a loud voice that my passport was deemed invalid, reportedly marked as lost or stolen. My heart rate spiked and my face became red as I realized the potential implications of this miscommunication. Despite hours upon hours being stuck in the airport and despite our best efforts and calls to influential friends or folks who could somehow help us resolve the issue, we learned the hard way that Costa Rican airport policy isn't exactly forgiving.
With no staff at the embassy on a Sunday and no solution in sight, the authorities decided we had to board the first plane back to the U.S. Being firm believers in family solidarity, we all decided to leave together. A 7-hour delay and police escorts at every turn later, we found ourselves heading back to Newark, New Jersey, and a 27-hour trek home on multiple airlines, instead of enjoying Costa Rican sunsets.
Back home and with a completely clear slate and unplanned week ahead of us, we decided to make the most of it. Little did we know, this ‘staycation' was about to birth an entirely new venture for us.
The Birth of Fried Pickle Games & The Fart of War
So here we were stuck in Spokane with a whole week cleared – a week with nothing to do, since we'd obviously planned on being barefoot on a Costa Rican beach.
But we decided to make lemonade out of lemons (or more appropriately, cheesecake out of cheese, or smoothies out of stinky whey protein) and planned a glorious family week of date nights, board and card games (no surprises there!), treks around the city, dinner parties, and much more.
One night, over a father-son date dinner at de ESPAÑA, a delightful tapas restaurant in Spokane, my sons River and Terran and I began discussing the classic book by Sun Tzu: The Art Of War, a book they had recently finished as part of their unschooling education. The conversation quickly turned, however, when River made a “fart of war” joke. We then began talking about a game design idea in which farts actually did go to war, and thus the concept of “The Fart of War” card game was conceived.
It was an amusing idea at first, involving cards that represented various types of farts that would go to battle against each other, equipped with smelly upgrades like moldy cheese or spicy Indian food. The laughter and fun that ensued while brainstorming this game was infectious, which made us realize that it wasn't such a ridiculous idea after all.
Having no clue what we were doing, we then actually started developing the game, using our knowledge of playing hundreds of hours of games at our house and pouring our heart and soul into designing and hand-illustrating each of the cards, building the rules, eventually even forming our official father-son game design company, “Fried Pickle Games” – aptly named because we played our very first test night of Fart Of War while eating air-fried pickles I had prepared the family for dinner (try 'em, they're fantastic!). Indeed, the idea that started as a jest over a tapas feast was now transforming into a promising business venture – and a super fun one to boot.
Imagine a weak princess fart that you can equip with a whey protein shake before you attack your opponent's old man fart that's been weakened with peppermint oil. Or masking the identity of your super powerful nuclear fart with a blame-it-on-the-dog card. Or finding out your typical toot just got upgraded with a cut-the-cheese card. As you continue to play this hilarious adventure with your friends and family, you amass points by defeating other players' fart characters until – at the end of the game – the player who has amassed the most fart cards…wins.
And so it progressed: for weeks upon weeks, since January of 2023, me and my sons River and Terran – who up until this point have been operating GoGreenfields, a massively successful cooking podcast and blog – began to work tirelessly on business building, card illustration, game design, interviews with other gaming experts, piles upon piles of books and podcasts on gaming, and much more.
The result is an absolute hoot, and our test play of the game has completely convinced us this game is going to make you smile and laugh for hours upon hours of gameplay. We even have expansions packs and merch concepts such as boxers n' briefs, custom branded bathroom spray, and logo emblazoned whoopee cushions are all in the works, and as the formation of our gaming company Fried Pickle Games, have even hired our first operations manager and set of employees. Yep, we're serious 'bout this.
The Official Fart Of War Launch
And now please clinch your cheeks, because here comes the exciting part, the launch of our very first card game: The Fart Of War!
The Fart Of War – a simple, easy-to-learn, two-deck card game that makes you chuckle, snort wine out your nose, and choke on your fried chicken – is designed to bring people together, to have fun, and to create memorable experiences. The game is not just about playing; it's about interacting, laughing, and enjoying the time spent together. It's about sitting on the living room floor together and belly-laughing over the fact that you just defeated a powerful airplane fart with a sweet baby fart equipped with taco seasoning and broccoli casserole, and that your opponent now has to fart from scratch.
This game will resonate with you, your family, your friends, and your kids and definitely add a dash of humor to any of your gatherings, dinners, parties, and vacations. Of course, the launch of this game isn't just about the game: it's also about the entire Fart of War experience! When you become a fart – er, part – of the action, from branded bathroom spray to special edition whoopee cushions and boxers, we've got some seriously fun add-ons lined up for you.
By visiting the brand-spankin' new, official Fart Of War website here and getting onto the e-mail list over there to be the first in line for the first batch of this shiny new game, you not only get to enjoy these perks but also be one of the first lucky people to launch into our entertaining world of Fried Pickle Games and The Fart Of War. And if that's not enough, when you get on the e-mail list, you'll also find out how you can even become a test player, test group, or test family for this game and all future games we produce in the future.
Frankly, my sons and I have designed The Fart Of War to be easy to learn and hilariously fun to play. Unless you're seriously gassy, bloated, and distracted, you can learn to play it in about 5 minutes flat. And though we manufactured this thing to be a shiny, glossy, fun experience, there are no expensive or easy-to-lose parts either. The humor, the fart jokes, the puns: they all make up the Fart of War universe, and trust me, it's been quite an incredible bonding experience and journey with my teenage sons helping them to craft this game. They happened to have hand drawn each and every illustration you'll find on each and every card. No AI or CGI graphics here folks: just pure adolescent skill and wild imagination (scattered throughout this post are just a few examples of the dozens and dozens of cards they've tirelessly sketched and created over the past several months).
How You Can Help!
But, now we need your support to make The Fart Of War a smashing, obnoxiously loud, and stinky success. I'm not just blowing smoke up your butt, or out your butt either. My sons and I could really, really use your help.
As you've just learned, we strongly believe in the joy of games, their ability to bring people together, and the countless hours of fun they provide. My sons and I now have a deep desire in our hearts to bring that same joy to a lot of people – and to develop a suite of future games that promise to be just as fun as this first one we've just finished creating. So if you, your friends, your family, or your coworkers enjoy playing games, my sons and I urge you now to support us by getting on the e-mail list here: we promise to make it worth your while with plenty of perks, insider discounts and special announcements that make you a big part of the Fried Pickle Games company!
Together, let's bring Fart of War to homes worldwide and create joy, laughter, and some harmless, slightly odorous fun.
Together, let's make Fried Pickle Games a household name, and hook you up with VIP and insider discounts from our new gaming company, for life.
Together, let's get people off their screens, off their devices, and back together as real human people laughing and playing with real objects and forming bonds that last a lifetime.
Together, we can let one rip, and blame it on the dog.
Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for me, River, or Terran about our new game? Ideas to help us get the word out and make this game a viral, smashing success? We are open to any support we can get, as this is just the first of many games to come from the Greenfield family and Fried Pickle Games company.
Leave your comments below! We'll read 'em all! And thanks for being a part of our big, stinky adventure.