Let’s Give Them Something — Anything — to Talk About

“They’re more popular right now because students are more attuned to social impact — they have a willingness to discuss things that perhaps previously were taboo or stigmatizing,” Ms. Gotsis said. She credits social media with encouraging people to share candidly: they find community and receive criticism more often than when they post something personal online. The games provide a formalized structure for what some might consider oversharing.

In 2015, Alon Saggie moved from Israel to Silicon Valley, along with his wife and their three children. Their youngest was only three months old, and they scrambled to adjust to their new lives while juggling work and child care. The stress was intense, Mr. Saggie said, and impacted their relationship. In the rare moments he and his wife were alone, they began to ask each other “deep” questions, to maximize their time together.

He started printing some of these questions on cards in his spare time, assembling about 300 decks at first of the game that would become Our Moments. They sold quickly, so he printed more. To date, Our Moments has sold tens of thousands of copies. The game has become his full-time job.

Mr. Saggie has theories about the game’s appeal, but isn’t sure why it has sold as well as it has. “If I knew what I did right, I’d just repeat it,” he said.

In addition to managing the business, he thinks of new iterations on the game. He’s noticed lately that when his children talk to their family back in Israel, “All the calls are boring, the same, ‘How’s school? How do you do?’” The latest edition of Our Moments is a deck focused on grandparents and children, to make those video chat sessions a bit less dull.

The audience may not always be a perfect fit for every game. Kathryn Ormsbee picked up a deck of the Hygge Game when she and her partner were about to go on regular weekend road trips between San Antonio and Austin, Tex. The questions were hit or miss, she said — one asked if same-sex couples should able to adopt, and Ms. Ormsbee and her partner, who are both women, were irritated but laughed it off. The game stayed on the floor of Ms. Ormsbee’s car for months. But something stuck. These days, she keeps it on her living room table, so that the cards are always in reach.