Offbeat | We’re Not Really Strangers — the card game that pushes me to create meaningful connections

Offbeat is a bi-weekly blog offering new and meaningful takes on all things media — podcasts, Instagram posts and everything in between.

By Jillian Rowan, For The Pitt News

Do you truly understand your best friend? How well do you know your mother? Could that stranger on the street be your twin flame? “We’re Not Really Strangers” might have the answer.

We’re Not Really Strangers — coined as WNRS (pronounced “winners”) for short — began as an Instagram account generating raw and vulnerable content through insightfully personal questions. It has since become a card game and a merchandise line, as well as a global, relationship-creating, social movement.

Though originally meant for total strangers, the game has entered the lives of friend groups, romantic partners and families. As a result, it’s easier than ever to start building connections with expansion packs such as the self-love edition, breakup kit and relationship expansion pack.

WNRS is a purpose-driven card game — three intimately crafted levels let you deepen your existing relationships, heal through past ones and create some new ones. The rules are easy — pick a card and make an empowering connection.

The Game

Level one hones in on perception. We all assume things about other people, but how often are they true? This first and most lighthearted level lets players see just how well they can read the “vibe” of others.

The questions are seemingly unimportant, but how frequently do we ask them? “Are you a coffee or tea person?” “Who was your celebrity crush as a kid?” “What does my style tell you about me?” These questions open up rich conversation with strangers and friends alike.

Level two is all about connection. When’s the last time you asked someone what they crave more of in life? Get ready to ugly cry when you hear the answer. Level two is where the classically “deep” questions come into play — 50 insightful inquiries that most people may be afraid to ask. “What’s the most pain you’ve been in that wasn’t physical?” “What does love feel like to you?” “How are you, really?”

The third level, termed “reflection,” is where players consider what they have experienced with one another. Level three is where the freshly made bonds manifest themselves. “Why do you think we met?” “What can I help you with?” “What can we create together?”

Ultimately comes the final card — a reminder for when you’re gone. Something that makes this game so extraordinary is its final request — a handwritten note. Both players craft a message for the other that cannot be opened until they have parted. Often responses include, “You’ve renewed my perspective on strangers,” “I feel like I’ve made a lifelong friend” and “You have changed my life.”


The brand originally started with its iconic Instagram. WNRS has accumulated a worldwide following of nearly 4.5 million people for its visually pleasing aesthetic and hard-hitting questions.  

Photojournalist Koreen Odiney, the 25-year-old creator and CEO of WNRS, got inspiration for the Instagram and adjacent game from — fittingly — a conversation with a stranger. In an interview with Vogue, Odiney says she sees the social media empire she and her team have created as “a passport to people.”

Posts remind followers they deserve healthy love, to set realistic expectations for people and that they won’t have to force what’s right.

WNRS’s content also challenges players with questions that are hard to answer — “Do you need closure or just an excuse to talk to them?” “What are you trying not to think about?” or “What are you holding on to that’s no longer holding on to you?”

Equally therapeutic and scary, a scroll through the WNRS feed will undeniably evoke thoughts and emotions we all too frequently suppress.

I warned you, feelings may arise.

The YouTube channel worth subscribing to 

The WNRS YouTube channel boasts various videos, with content spanning from honest dating to emotional game nights. The channel’s most popular video takes place on the Santa Monica Pier, where the WNRS team set up and filmed a public installation, inviting strangers to play. As they advance through the levels, thoughts and feelings gone long-unspoken rise to the surface. As one of the players said, “I’m telling you things that I don’t tell anybody.”

Watch along as strangers — young and old, Black and white, queer and straight — form a tangible bond within minutes of meeting. They come unknown and leave feeling known.

Wear your heart on your sleeve 

The WNRS website launched its distinctive red clothing brand in 2018 — sporting hoodies, sweatpants, and tees. Since then, the team has introduced phone cases, stickers, cards, hats, mugs, doormats and their quintessential red “hard conversation” fold-up chair.

If you see me on campus, I will likely be sporting my WNRS hoodie or my “your anxiety is lying to you!” tee. Say hi, so we won’t be strangers anymore, either.

Change your life — and someone else’s

WNRS has heightened my relationships — whether it be with a best friend, an ex, a parent or a love interest, I’ve learned so much about the player opposite me — even if I’ve known them my whole life. I now pose to others the questions that we forget to ask — exponentially enriching my life.

The game’s design is explicitly for tearing down our walls and transcending the boundaries of age, sexuality, race and creed. With an influence spanning platforms and mediums, WNRS is for everybody.  

The mortifying ordeal of being known — it’s scary, it’s vulnerable and it’s 100% worth it. 

Find your first love. Reveal someone’s true colors. Learn another side of your dad. Unearth things in yourself you didn’t know you could feel.

We’re not really strangers — inside, we’re all the same. The most goosebump-inducing, tear-jerking, heart-melting game you will ever play.