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These Singaporeans create games for a living

These Singaporeans create games for a living

While the whole world is fixated on their mobile devices, there’s still a group of Singaporeans hoping to encourage human interaction without screens.

They are creating card games and board games for their community.

These games may be of different forms and game plays. But, they all hope to encourage interaction in some way or another.

So, what are these games and who are the individuals who still insist on creating paper products?

I’m one of these individuals and I’m very happy that I’m not alone.

Because I work on card games for seniors, I decided to start searching for other local game creators.

I asked them a few questions. So, here it goes:

Daniel Tan, 22, Founder of Limpeh Says 

Daniel Tan Yong Heng (left), Founder, Limpeh Says
Daniel Tan Yong Heng (left) and Gabriel Leow, Founders of Limpeh Says. Pic Credit: The Straits Times.

Most Singaporeans have heard of Limpeh Says, a card game that puts a local spin on Cards Against Humanity.

What you may not know is that the game started off as Daniel’s school project while he was studying at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

1. How did you get started with Limpeh Says? 

It was initially made for a school project.

After the assessment, I wanted to show it off a bit to my friends on Twitter, but it gained traction really quick and within a few days it was shared on a few local buzz sites.

This really pushed me to make the game a reality, and Gabriel (co-founder of Play Nation, and my partner in Limpeh Says) reached out to me, giving some advise purely out of goodwill.

We met a for a few times, and I decided that he has the knowledge and experience in this field that I don’t.

I then offered him a partnership. We set out to create the best product we could.

2. How long has the journey been and how has it evolved along the way?

Before we launched it on Kickstarter, It took us a little over a year to refine the card game.

It was previously called “Cards Against Humanity: Singapore Edition.”

But for legal reasons, as well as not wanting to be associated with CAH, we slowly evolved into Limpeh Says.

During the process of refining, we also trippled the number of cards in the game.

The design changes, mainly our logo, was also refined over that period of time.

3. What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was Kickstarter.

We were both new to the platform, and we had no idea how well our campaign would run.

We initially ran for a $20,000 funding goal, which a few Kickstarter veterans were wary about.

But even if we hit exactly that amount, we would still be at a loss.

We really just wanted to see it come to fruition, so we brought the goal as low as we could.

Surprisingly, we hit $20k in a little over 2 hours, and went 600% on the campaign.

I tried my best to spice up the campaign page the best I could do, while Gabriel worked hard liaising with different companies to get some promotional posts up.

4. What are your upcoming plans for Limpeh Says?

Currently, we are on a hiatus due to our own commitments.

But I am looking forward to GE2019! (His next project is likely to be launched then)

If you’re interested in Limpeh Says, you can pre-order at https://limpehsays.com/

Nicholas Pang, 37, Founder of Starknicked

Nick Pang, Founder, Star Nicked created Smol Tok. Smol Tok is a game aimed at getting people to have more intimate conversations.
Nick Pang, Founder, Starknicked created Smol Tok. Smol Tok is a game aimed at getting people to have more intimate conversations.

Smol tok is everything that cards against humanity is not.

Nicholas created smol tok as an ice-breaking and community-building card game designed to grow meaningful conversations, trust, and relationships – minus the bullshit.

Every card is a question, and every question is a peek into what makes us human.

1. How did you get started with smol tok?

I was reading viktor frankl’s man’s search for meaning, everyone should read this book at pivotal moments in life.

I was heavily inspired and influenced by his teachings about how the search for meaning and purpose is essential for every human being to not only survive but thrive, and find happiness in life.

Questions are an important tool in this endeavour, and I had created a bunch of questions for myself as a personal heuristic.

Someone I knew saw it and incepted the idea of making it accessible to others who might need it.

I experimented with some designs and put it in a shop. It slowly grew from there organically.

2. How long has the journey been and how has it evolved along the way?

I was still working at my day job when I released smol tok in 2015.

Did it at night and on the weekends in 2015 and 2016. Passion project really.

I wasn’t looking to start a company or a line of products. Just wanted to make stuff that helped people like me find meaning and purpose in their relationships, work, life, etc.

But, sometime in 2016, I took a 2 month long break and went on a backpacking pilgrimage.

The extended time away from what we consider normal in Singapore brought increasing clarity to me.

I decided I needed to redesign and reprogramme my life, and reorient it towards work that was truly meaningful, that I could uniquely carry out.

I returned to Singapore, quit my day job, and started to feel my way forward with smol tok.

Since then, I’ve released one new deck every year, with plans to do so for the next 6 years.

The whole creative process is life-giving to me, and I have a blank slate to create in Smol Tok.

I’ve also met many like-minded and talented people along the way, and together with some of them, are working to spin off and create other kinds of meaningful games and content.

3. What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

An ongoing challenge is getting folks to get into the habit of asking questions about their own lives with the intention of getting clearer about what truly gives them meaning and purpose, and not simply cruise along on autopilot.

The Singapore narrative that we’re schooled in is based on a pretty narrow definition of success – the material sort.

I suspect many folks feel trapped in this narrative; some time away on retreat and a few honest questions directed at oneself could help folks write their own narrative, one that’s uniquely tailored to them as individuals.

4. What are your upcoming plans for Starknicked? (It’s pronounced ‘stark naked’)

Expansion. Building a community of folks who seek greater meaning and purpose in life.

Also, there are five more decks of smol tok I need to bring to maturity, including one on work, one on travel, and one on ecology.

Plus a new family of card games rooted in my family’s Peranakan heritage.

I don’t want to give away too much. Stay tuned!

If you’re interested in Smol Tok, you can order at: https://www.starknicked.com/ 

 Tan Shao Han, 37, and Alanna Yeo, 34, Co-founders of Curious Chimeras

Tan Shao Han, Founder, Curious Chimeras
Tan Shao Han, Co-founder, Curious ChimerasAlanna Yeo, Founder, Curious ChimerasAlanna Yeo, Co-founder, Curious Chimeras

The Curious Chimeras focuses on the art of storytelling via unique experiences that encompass strong narrative, tabletop games, art, and culture.

Through Curious Chimeras experiences and games, players can adventure fearlessly, engage in meaningful interactions with others and ultimately build a community that allows for exploration, self-discovery and the understanding of new and different perspectives.

1. How did you get started with Curious Chimeras? 

Shao: Curious Chimeras began with a passion to share the joy of roleplaying games with different people around me.

I was mostly working with kids, and enjoyed adapting and creating roleplaying games into simpler, more robust forms for their enjoyment – that was when I realized I found this process of game-making to be very fulfilling on a personal level.

That realization led me to focus on creating more games, and pushing myself into these endeavors.

Alanna: I joined Curious Chimeras because I have a passion for incorporating play and storytelling into our daily lives.

I had found it joyful to create ‘gameful’ experiences previously, for areas such as education, mental wellbeing, personal communication etc.

When Shao shared with me his vision for Curious Chimeras, I found that it was something I was immensely interested in, so here we are writing games and experiences for a living!

2. How long has the journey been and how has it evolved along the way? 

Shao: We incorporated at the beginning of 2018, and we have been operating before this as a community of playful volunteers that uses games to help kids learn and bond with one another.

In the past, we were more of a loose collective with an interest in play, while now we are more of a focused company with an emphasis on creating playable experiences.

3. What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? 

Shao: Writing and publishing roleplaying games requires a lot of different skills – just like playing and running them!

I’ve had to become familiar with a lot of different skills like typesetting, graphic design, and the operations of a small business, while also reading and playing a lot of different games to get a better idea of my own visions and voice as a game maker.

As for how I overcame this – it’s just a matter of putting in lots of time, energy, and focus, I guess! 🙂

Alanna: In general, starting a business is never an easy task; immense discipline and communication is needed especially in a business run by more than one.

So far, I think Shao and I work very well together in terms of how our different skillsets complement each other, and most importantly, that the two of us are both direct and honest in the way we communicate with each other.

4. What are your upcoming plans for Curious Chimeras?

We are publishing a few roleplaying games in a mix of the Old School Revival (OSR) and narrative-driven ‘storygame’ style.

The first is “Tales of Saintrest”, a game of mythic fantasy about mortals and spirits in a world healing from a war, and we are also working on products and modules for other roleplaying engines and systems.

On the other side, we also develop and provide corporate services – we design and use roleplaying games to encourage teamwork and bonding in fun and immersive ways. Call us if you’re interested! 🙂

If you’re interested in Curious Chimeras, you can get in touch at http://www.curiouschimeras.com/

Christel Goh, 27, Founder of Play Huahee

After experiencing the pain of dementia at home, Christel Goh creates games for people and communities to engage seniors.
From right: Me and my grandma with the Play Huahee card games

Lastly, there’s also me 😛

I created Play Huahee when I experienced a lack of relevant activities in the market to engage my grandma.

Play Huahee offers the Singaporean community with localised games to engage seniors. We are also planning more games to reach communities beyond Singapore.

I devote my time to creating games to encourage early intervention for seniors.

1. How did you get started with Play Huahee?

Two years ago, my grandma showed early warning signs of dementia.

My grandpa suffered from dementia previously and my mum was very determined not to let the same happen to my grandma.

So, my mum started to research the types of food, exercises and activities that can help her condition.

I was looking for activities to engage my grandma, when I realised that there were no localised and relevant games for seniors in Singapore or for the Asian context.

So, I started to draw local food and heritage items in Singapore. This eventually led to the first version of Hua Hee card game. I  launched it on Indiegogo after that.

2. How long has the journey been and how has it evolved along the way?

Hua Hee was a very simple memory matching card game at first.

I soon introduced other ways of playing the games such as charades and pictionary. I also expanded on the range of games I had — including games like puzzles, colouring and more.

My focus was previously on creating activities for seniors. I feel that Play Huahee now stands for something bigger.

When it comes to conditions like dementia, most families only become aware of a problem much later on. They only find out about it when their seniors’ condition aggravates.

The effects of intervention are quite limited in the later stages of the condition.

Through Play HuaHee, I hope to encourage early intervention for seniors in homes/communities.

3. What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge is sustainability. While we have been getting traction among various organisations, all the profits generated goes back to fund production and various operating expenses.

We need to figure out a more sustainable model for Play Huahee.

4. What are your upcoming plans for Play Huahee?

The plan is to continue creating more games and reaching out to communities beyond Singapore.

I have so many ideas that I would like to experiment with. The only constrains are resources and time.

If you’re interested in Play Huahee, you can order at: https://playhuahee.com/games-engage-seniors/

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Giving up halfway

Giving up halfway

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

When I started play huahee, there was lots of possibilities of what it could be.

I spent many nights being excited, dreaming of what I could build.

It was tremendously easy to be excited because there was nothing, and I was basically building sandcastles in the air.

It’s been a year since the Play huahee campaign went live on Indiegogo.

And, now it’s much harder. The hype of the launch has died down.

Sometimes, I feel like I haven’t moved the needle much. You take one step forward and maybe a million steps back.

I ask myself what I’m doing everyday and I question where I’m going a lot.

My husband told me that what I’m doing is like laying bricks and it takes a really long time to build a house.

If you can’t deal with the emotional rollercoaster of ups and downs (many more downs than ups) that come with it, maybe you’re not cut out for this.

But, I remember that even before Play Huahee was conceived, I promised myself that wherever this project went or turned out, I would not give up. It may take a totally different shape or form in the future.

In a recent chick flick that I watched, the female lead wanted to be a writer and she really struggled with her first draft. She couldn’t get past her head that she felt like it was a shitty article.

She only submitted the article after she accepted that maybe it’s okay for her first piece of work to be as shitty as shitty could be.

And, She would keep writing and writing till she gets better.

So, I probably need to get out of my head and accept that Play Huahee is nothing/nowhere right now.

And, I can then deal with whatever disappointment that may come.

When doing a long distance run, it is extremely difficult when you fixate on how you’re nowhere near the finish line.

But, the run becomes more manageable when you just run knowing that you’ve committed yourself to it.

If you read this, thanks for being a part of my journey.

Do you feel like giving up halfway? Leave your email address & embark on this journey with us. We will also send you FREE simple and effective exercises to engage your seniors at home.






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