Working the Nightshift

There are no wizards or magic in this board game, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fantasy. Nightshift, created by Australian artist and ex-stripper Exotic Cancer, asks players to “adopt the role of a dancer” and “charm worthwhile customers into emptying their wallets.” Inspired by the creator’s lived experiences working as a dancer in a strip club, the artwork, characters, design and themes work in tandem to create a game that is not only fun to play, but also gives players “an authentic and empowering take on this often misunderstood profession.”

Players can choose from five unique characters who each have their own attributes and methods for charming customers. You’ll need to earn the most money over the night to win. Navigate your different abilities, power cards, get your customers into the Private or VIP Room, purchase champagne, draw cards to combine dance moves and deepen your connection via dice rolls.

Exotic Cancer’s artwork often focuses on the experiences of sex workers and strippers because, she explains, “it’s something that has shaped me into the person I am today, and by infusing these themes into a board game, I’m hoping to create an immersive and interactive platform that inspires conversation to challenge the negative stigmas associated with the industry.

“A board game is something that can reach people well beyond my existing community, who are already mostly very accepting of this line of work.”

So why a physical, real-life board game, rather than a digital game? She explains that it’s the physicality and the tangibility of a board game that adds dimension to the story-telling and “surpasses the passive consumption of art or animations.”

“With this game, unlike social media, players are not just observers, but active participants,” says Cancer. “By assuming the role of a stripper within the game, they become fully immersed in the world I’ve created. Through the design of the game mechanics, players make decisions that reflect the realities of working in a strip club. The inclusion of customer cards, each with a unique backstory, are inspired by real customer interactions that I’ve had… You also have to keep track of when you’re rostered on stage, if you miss it, you’ll be fined. All of these things reflect reality. I’m hoping that by giving people a more personal way to engage with my art, it has a more profound impact than just scrolling through social media.”

Not everyone who has tested Nightshift has quite understood the allure, with one commenter suggesting that they make “the strippers bards instead at a tavern who have to impress tavern clientele” in order for the game to be more appealing to the D&D set. But Exotic Cancer says that she hopes “anyone with an open mind will give it a try”. She shares that they have had a wide range of play-testers, including sex workers, but also people who wouldn’t normally touch a game like this who have been pleasantly surprised.

Nightshift is still in development but is set to be released in the coming year. For information on the launch of the game, check out and follow Exotic Cancer on Instagram @exotic.cancer.