You might have heard of Cards Against Humanity and even played it before. If you have, you’d notice that sometimes there’ll be words and phrases so American that unless you’re deeply steeped in their pop culture and history, they’re close to indecipherable.
If you’ve ever wished for a Malaysian version with our own local twist, the wait is over.
Enter Rojak Culture, currently run by an inter-racial couple consisting of Trixie and Stephen, who have joined forces with All Aboard Community Gaming Centre to bring a locally designed and published card game that is 100% made in Malaysia.
Introducing The Lepak Game
Consisting of 600 individual cards, the Lepak Game is meant to “contain the essence of Malaysia”.
The gameplay is simple. A prompt is given, and the players have to pick the most Malaysian response out of the 8 cards they hold in their hand. The ‘Boss’ of the round chooses the winner.
However, players are allowed to ‘bodek’ (persuade) the Boss, meaning there’s usually a spirited discussion every time the cards are played as each player tries to convince the Boss that their card is the most appropriate answer or response to the prompt. Whoever is chosen gets to be the Boss for the next round.
Having tried out the game for ourselves, we have to admit that some of the words stretched some of us beyond our knowledge of Malaysian slang. However, you’re not encouraged to Google the words and there is no glossary provided. Instead, in the team’s words, “We won’t be providing a glossary for now to encourage players to ask one another in person. Don’t shy-shy!”
According to Rojak Culture, “The response has been 90% great! The best reactions we get are ones who end up screaming, laughing and standing up while playing this game. In existing groups of friends, it’s so fun because players have more material on each other to ‘bodek’. We love that it really brings out the different personalities.”
They also added that they’ve observed about a 10 percentage of people who don’t seem to enjoy the game and that’s understandable. They’ve also received requests to make the game more provocative, but the team wishes to stick to the original intent of the game, which was to create conversations.
Play A Game, Set A New Culture Of Conversation
As an inter-racial couple, Trixie and Stephen also grew up with friends of different races, and believe that diversity is very valuable. Initially, they thought about getting involved with workshops or dialogues but found that the typical Malaysian may not get excited about that sort of thing.
They picked the name Rojak Culture for their company because they wanted to emphasise to people that Malaysian-ness is what it is because of each race that makes up the whole. Each one contributes special elements, without which, Malaysia wouldn’t be the same.
The team added, “We enjoy many multi-ethnic friendships ourselves and these friendships are so enriching. Our 1-and half year old who is obviously not Malay, ‘salams’ almost everyone he meets and we enjoy watching people’s faces light up.”
Rojak Culture’s vision is to help provide Malaysians with a tool and a conversation trigger that they can use to foster inter-racial friendships.
They said, “It’s an unconventional and fun way to spark a movement of friendship in the grassroots to help move things forward. For a long time now we’ve wanted to contribute something in this area. The idea to do it through conversations and play came about mid last year and we decided to start Rojak Culture in November 2015,” they said to Vulcan Post.
Not All Fun And Games
The team at Rojak Culture had a dream that the game would be fully produced and made in Malaysia, but bringing the vision to reality was not easy.
According to them, “We wanted to stay true to our ‘celebrate Malaysian-ness’ motto so we wanted to manufacture this in Malaysia and not somewhere like China, where production might be much cheaper. We had to figure out the right quality and yet still keep it cost effective.
TLG contains 600 individual cards, which have to be sorted correctly into the box. Other countries have machinery that can handle this but here it’s a manual process. In the end we are proud to say that this is 100% made in Malaysia and we’re happy to support our local manufacturers even though it had been a long and tedious process.”
They’ve also had to fight misconceptions about the game. “I think a major preconception is that if something is made in Malaysia, it is of a lesser quality than something from outside the country. We want this game to be something Malaysians are impressed by.”
Besides that, they’ve found that encouraging Malaysians to try out a tabletop game is an uphill task, as many would prefer to just sit around and relax after a long day. The team said it’s all about convincing potential players that the game isn’t too difficult to play and is lots of fun.
At the moment, both Trixie and Stephen as the main founders are still juggling other commitments but hope to be able to focus full time on Rojak Culture in the future. In a true spirit of unity, they acknowledge that they couldn’t have accomplished all this without help from others.
Trixie’s brother Jed helped with designing the website, online footprint and marketing, Trixie’s friend Sunnie helped design the artwork of the game. All Aboard Community Gaming Center lent a helping hand in getting a manufacturer, networking and seeking relevant partnerships, marketing and so on and so forth.
With the release of the game coming up, the team already has an expansion in the works. “The expansion should be out some time mid next year, hopefully! We do plan to produce more similar games that spark conversations in the future but we will be focusing on The Lepak Game this and next year.”
The game will be officially launching on the 16th of September, but you can pre-order it from their website. Alternatively, it will be sold at All Aboard Community Gaming Centre in Damansara Jaya.
For anyone interested in trying the game out, Rojak Culture is also planning a monthly ‘Jom Lepak’ café hopping get-together around Klang Valley from Aug 2016–Sept 2017. They hope that people who wish to play the game will come along with their friends and take the opportunity to have fun and play together.