Building on the Edges

Hanabi is a cooperative card game with the objective of creating the perfect fireworks show (hanabi is the Japanese word for fireworks). The game is similar to many others, but it has a unique twist. When you're dealt your cards, you don't look at them. Instead, you hold them in your hand facing the other players. You can see everyone else's hand, but not your own.

On your turn, you either play a card or tell another player one thing about their cards (for instance, you can point to a card and say "You have one 5"). With such limited information, the game requires intense focus; you have to keep track of your own cards, as well as what each person knows about their hands. It's great fun.

There are thousands of card games and yet with this simple twist, you have something unique and interesting. When creating something new, anything from a book of poems to a meal to an app, we often think that originality is the most important part. We want to do something that hasn't been done before in every way possible. When we see other projects with similarities to what we're doing, we wonder if ours is worth the effort.

But most groundbreaking work is intimately tied to what came before. Hanabi is still a card game with rules, points, and pieces. The album that sounds so unusual is still made up of songs, familiar instruments, and lyrics about love. The mind-bending novel still has chapters, a conflict, and a Library of Congress number. The core elements are the same; the innovation happens at the edges.

We talk about pushing the boundaries because those boundaries and edges are useful. They give us something to build on.