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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Fun and games with Anthony and Crystalyn Kent
Couple built a business from life experiences
 
Published Thursday, January 7, 2021 6:20 pm
by Amanda Raymond | For The Charlotte Post

COURTESY ANTHONY AND CRYSTALYN KENT
Anthony and Crystalyn Kent of Charlotte put their backgrounds in finance and technology to launch SociaLaughs, a company that produces games inspired by their life experiences,

Is “Friday” or “The Color Purple” the most quoted Black movie?


How long does a Black church service last?


If you were cutting up at the store, would Mama say: “keep it up and see what happens” or “imma give you a reason to cry”?


These questions and more are featured in Passport to the Hood, one of a handful of games offered by SociaLaughs, a Black-owned and operated company created by a Charlotte couple.


Crystalyn and Anthony Kent, who were both born, raised and educated in North Carolina, founded SociaLaughs in 2017. Using their backgrounds in finance and technology, they decided to start a business around creating games inspired by their own life experiences.


Anthony Kent said he just woke up with the idea for Passport to the Hood one morning.


“I consider myself to be a serial entrepreneur, so ideas always tend to come in my mind,” he said.


Because Anthony and Crystalyn have started businesses before, it wasn’t too difficult to get this one off the ground.


Crystalyn said they started coming up with questions for the game during a four-hour road trip to visit family. They drew ideas from family get-togethers, discussions with friends and everyday life experiences.


“We were just cracking up,” Crystalyn said. “It was so much fun coming up with the questions.”


Before they knew it, they had over 400 questions to choose from for the original Passport for the Hood. If the Kents had to narrow down the multiple-choice answers or come up with a final option for a card, sometimes they turned to close friends for help.


“Honestly, it wasn’t hard at all,” Crystalyn said.


Passport to the Hood is designed to quiz players on urban culture and the Black experience.


It now has three volumes: the original, the Trap Edition and the Feds Watching version. Some cards are multiple choice questions, while others are based on a majority vote.

Besides being a fun game to play during parties, holidays and casual get-togethers, the Kents wanted their games to have an educational aspect. They sought out interesting facts about the Black community to act as conversation starters.


One such card Crystalyn knows starts discussions is about how long the Black dollar stays in the Black community. Some may be surprised to learn that it’s only six hours, a fact backed up by The Black Star Project.


“You think you’re just going to have a good time cracking up and making jokes about stuff, but we purposefully put those questions in there because we want conversations,” Crystalyn said.


The Kents said the games are an opportunity to discuss pervasive stereotypes in the Black community and bring light to topics that may only be discussed behind closed doors.
And the games aren’t just for the Black community. They’re also a great way for people of various backgrounds to learn and ask questions about Black culture.


“The takeaway is, you are able to understand how people were raised, how they grew up, what things they experienced and why they think the way they think,” Anthony said. “When people are playing the game, after they ask a question, that will open up a whole dialogue in terms of why you think that particular way.”


The Kents said they also wanted to offer games that aren’t solely focused on Black culture. CelebSaid highlights quotes, catchphrases and lines from popular Black celebrities and The Story Of My Life: A Trivia Game for Women hones in on the common social, personal and cultural experiences of women.


“We wanted to make sure we had something that everyone could relate to,” Anthony said.


Crystalyn said they saw a spike in sales in March and early April last year – right when people started spending more time at home because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Normally during the holiday time, our sales really pick up. We were seeing the trends as if it was around the holiday season,” she said. “It dawned on us that it was the pandemic that was driving the spike in sales.”


Even before the pandemic, and before pursuing a marketing plan, the Kents said the games sold well on Amazon, adding they have two more games in development and eventually want to create a live game show.


For now, though, the Kents said their games are a way for adults to spend an evening at home or with friends over a video call.


Passport to the Hood and other games from SociaLaughs are available through www.socialaughs.com and Amazon.

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