The world’s on fire!! Okay, maybe things aren’t really that bad, but one thing’s for sure: politics in general has never been more fierce, ominous and frankly, exhausting. The constant barrage of news, fake or real, is an obvious testament of the very damaged nature of our larger social fabric. The fatigue from the lack of constructive parley makes politics all the more distant and alien. We can unanimously agree that we need a more novel and engaging approach to have these urgent conversations; almost some form of unbiased innocence to calm the storm. And I think this Goa based media studio has just the answer.
‘Shasn’ is a competitive strategy board game that simulates real world democracy. Created by Zain Memon of Memesys Culture Lab, this 4-player game makes you, the politician, strategize, trade and negotiate your way to victory. You make policy decisions, earn resources, and build ideologies as you influence voters and race to win the election. With every turn, you must make tough moral and political choices as you tackle your urgent policy dilemmas using your key resources: campaign funds, media attention, street clout and public trust. Zain explains, “I can read a textbook out to you on how politics works. I can even give a lecture on it. But will it really work? How do I effectively make you feel like a politician and communicate political insights? Cause no one is talking about politics. No one is demystifying.”
Novel ways of story-telling is not new for Memesys Culture Lab. At the intersection of science, philosophy and culture, Memesys is dedicate to crafting high concept, experimentally rich work in cinema and new media. Run by Anand Gandhi, Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla, Pooja Shetty, Neil Pagedar and Zain himself, Memesys is the team behind films like Ship Of Theseus and An Insignificant Man. With some virtual and augmented reality projects under their belt, it’s clear that this team isn’t afraid to push the envelope further, “We want to tell stories in a way no one has told before, and we want to tell stories that no one is telling.”
The game comes in a large black box containing a game board, player mats, resource tokens, voter pegs, and a bunch of different ideologue, conspiracy, headline, ideology and votebank cards. At the end of the game, the player with the most majority voters wins. It involves asking each other questions such as – ‘Should the GST be abolished?’ or ‘Should soldiers be allowed to express dissent publicly?’ The way you answer leads to you earn specific resources and shapes the kind of politician you’ll be; the capitalist, the showman, the supremo or the idealist. It also smartly translates real world concepts such as coalitions and gerrymandering into engaging game concepts. All in all, it requires you to understand the terrain, manage resources, take a stand, build an ideology, play the long game, manage the news and strategize. If that’s not enough, the game also contains four versions of political landscapes – the Indian, the American, the Roman(historic) and the Future version.
As someone who has had the pleasure of Zain personally explaining the game, I can assure you of how creative and intriguing it truly is. From the intricate design to the clarity of concepts, the effort and originality poured into it is hard to ignore. While the game isn’t made with any political agenda or bias, it’ll definitely help you reflect on your personal beliefs and outlooks.
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