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October 23, 2020

You're Pulling My Leg! by Allen Wolf ~ a Review & Interview

by MK French



You're Pulling My Leg! and its junior version involves bluffing your way through stories, and other plays have to vote if the story is true or not. Stories that have to be told are prompted by cards within each book. Guess correctly and earn a point, but make a mistake about whether the story is true or not and you lose a point. The first to twenty-one points wins. These are family games that you can play with extended family members over the holidays. In the times of COVID-19, it can easily be translated to virtual get togethers, too.
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

You're Pulling My Leg
August 2020; Morning Star; 978-1952844027
ebook, print (176 pages); game
The books outline variations on the rules, but it's easy to tweak the rules further. While YPML Junior suggests age 9 and up, I modified the game by not keeping track of points so my six-year-old could play. We also teamed up so that he wasn't by himself. He found it a lot of fun to guess true or false at the stories we all came up with, and tried to tell his own. We can't last to twenty-one points with a six-year-old, but without the points, we were able to include him, so even if you have players less than nine, it's still a fun game to play!





Q&A with You're Pulling My Leg! creator Allen Wolf

Tell us about yourself. What’s it like being both a filmmaker and a game creator? 

Allen Wolf

I’m a game creator, author, and filmmaker, and I live in Los Angeles with my wife and two kids. I love creating games, books, and movies because I enjoy seeing stories spring to life, whether it’s through something I’ve made or the stories people tell as part of one of my games. Storytelling is at the heart of what I do. I feel tremendously blessed that I can inspire people to expand their imaginations as they experience my games or stories. 

There’s a lot of crossover between my work. I featured the original version of my game, Your Pulling My Leg!, prominently in my first movie, In My Sleep, which is now streaming on Amazon. I also featured the game in my first novel, Hooked, which will be released as a movie in 2021. I love that I can work in multiple mediums, and I’ve been able to feature my games in the stories I tell. It gives me great joy to hear that my games bring people together, helps people build relationships, and inspires their creativity.

How did you first come up with the idea for You’re Pulling My Leg!

I came up with the idea for You’re Pulling My Leg! just before Christmas years ago when I was thinking about a gift I could give to a good friend. He was dating someone he thought might be his future wife, and I wanted to create something that helped them get to know each other better but within the context of a game to make it extra fun. They loved the game, and so I created more versions for other friends to play. It became a hit with those friends, and soon people encouraged me to turn You’re Pulling My Leg! into an actual game so more people could experience it, so I did. The game ended up selling in toy, game, and book stores worldwide, and I love that it all started as a gift.

What does the process look like for creating a game?

When you have a game idea, the first step is to create a prototype. I often visited craft stores and grabbed different sized boxes, jars, whatever I thought would help me make the game’s components. Once you’ve tested the gameplay, the next step is to create the playing instructions. The goal is to create instructions that work without you saying anything since people can’t ask you questions when they’re not sure how something works in your game. You’ll next want to observe people playing your game so you can see what works and what doesn’t, in particular when people you don’t know are playing your game. That way, you’ll get a clearer idea of how the game will play with the general public. When you feel like the gameplay is solid, you can start hiring graphic designers to help create the look for your game. After that phase, you can either pitch the game to a game company or ask game manufacturers to provide estimates on the cost if you’d like to make the game yourself. Creating a game takes a lot of creativity, time, energy, and resources, but when you see how much people enjoy playing your game, it’s all worth it. 

How do you balance managing all your creative projects?

I start most days around 4:00 a.m. and sometimes even earlier. In those early morning hours, I’m able to work on my creative projects without interruption. I try to work on a project consistently and chip away at it day after day. Then, one day it’s finished, and I’m able to move onto something else. Starting any new project feels like standing at the base of an enormous mountain, and it can feel overwhelming to think of what’s ahead. But if you’re able to move forward with one small step after another, eventually you’ll discover you’ve made it to the summit. It takes a lot of perseverance, but it’s worth it when you see your creative work come to life.

Where do you get inspiration from? What is currently inspiring your creative process?

I’ve drawn creative inspiration from friendships with others and adventures I’ve taken in my city or around the globe. I’ve also felt creatively recharged when I visit museums, experience a great movie, enjoy a game night with friends, or visit Disneyland, where I’ve visited over 500 times. Everything in Disneyland is based on a story, and I have often spent time at the park to work on novels, screenplays, or other creative ideas.

I also draw inspiration from the Bible, and I try to read every day. It is an epic story of love, sacrifice, and redemption that takes place over thousands of years and continues to impact me today. My family greatly inspires me. I love seeing how my kids are uninhibited with their imaginations. They create stories, games, and characters using whatever resources they can find around our home. They perform with abandon and delight in whatever they make. I find that very inspiring. I’ve been married since 2009, and my wife inspires me as I continue to get to know her story and experience life with her. 

When the pandemic happened, you were able to create new versions of You’re Pulling My Leg! and You’re Pulling My Leg! Junior that people can play virtually. How were you able to adapt the games? What do the new versions look like?

After the pandemic happened, it struck me how much we were all becoming isolated or cut off from our everyday relationships and interactions. At the core of You’re Pulling My Leg! is the idea that we can have a great time getting to know each other as we share stories from our lives. So, I started brainstorming on how people could play the game in person or over a video chat without needing the cards, shaker, and other playing pieces that came with the original game. 

I experimented with having different groups of people play the game over video calls until I came up with a version that worked within a book. Then I gave the book to various people to test it independently, and I was happy to hear how much they got a kick out of playing it. It’s now very easy to play You’re Pulling My Leg! and take it anywhere. You can store it on your bookshelf instead of in a closet, and it’s simple to grab and start a game. My kids are much younger than the age I recommend for the Junior version, but they noticed the book and wanted to play, so we played together by just asking each other the questions, and they loved it. I hope this game will continue to bring people together when so much in our world is trying to pull us apart.

What are your favorite questions from the books?

I have many favorite questions from this game. What I appreciate about You’re Pulling My Leg! is that you’re able to ask people questions that typically wouldn’t come up in typical conversations, so you can get to know that person much better and more quickly. Since the questions are asked in the context of a game, it adds an extra element of fun as you try to figure out if that person is telling a true story or pulling your leg. My favorite questions from the book help you get a deeper glimpse into people’s lives.

From You’re Pulling My Leg!: One of my favorite questions is, “Tell me about a time when you panicked about something” because you get to hear a story about when that person freaked out about something, and it’s usually very funny in retrospect. “Tell me about a time when you did something you never thought you’d do” is a great question to hear about unexpected moments in that person’s life. “Tell me about something you’d do differently if given another chance,” allows you to learn more about someone’s history and how they would have made different choices. “Tell me about a date that didn’t go well” typically leads to some hilarious stories. “Tell me about a fictional character you would be if you could” lets you see a different kind of life that friends would like to experience.

From You’re Pulling My Leg! Junior: One of my favorite questions is, “Tell me something silly you have done” because it helps you get a glimpse into what that person sees as funny and silly, and it’s usually hilarious, especially when a kid answers the question. “Tell me about a time in your life you would repeat if you could” helps you see what that person thinks is a highlight from their life. “Tell me about something not many people know about you,” gives others a chance to tell you something that might surprise you. And I’ve never been able to ask, “Tell me about a time when you ate too much candy,” without laughing hysterically at the answer. 

With the holidays around the corner, what are the best questions to get to know your family better?

When people play with their families, they sometimes think they’ll know all the answers to the questions, and they’re often surprised when they don’t. My favorite questions for families are, “Tell me about a time when you tried something for the first time” because it’s a chance to share about moments when you had new experiences. “Tell me about one of your imaginary friends” will get you laughing as you try to figure out if that family member is pulling your leg. “Tell me about something you would buy if you could afford it” might give you a future gift idea. “Tell me about a time when you were a supportive friend to someone” will give you a window into how people in your family have cared for others. “Tell me about something you have worried about” will help you see what’s on your family’s minds. “Tell me about an awkward conversation you had with someone” typically leads to entertaining stories.

Why do You’re Pulling My Leg! and You’re Pulling My Leg! Junior, make great gifts for the holidays? 

When you give You’re Pulling My Leg! or You’re Pulling My Leg! Junior as a gift, you’re showing the person you’re giving it to that you value their life stories, want to get to know them better, or think they’ll enjoy connecting to others while having a lot of fun. To me, one of the greatest gifts is friendship, and this is a game that helps people build relationships and get closer while sharing laughter. I wrote the questions so they can have multiple answers so you can play the game over and over again, and it’s always fresh. The book is also printed locally in most countries, so you’re supporting local businesses. It’s eco-friendly, has a small footprint, and books are easy to gift wrap, a massive plus for me!

 


Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.


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