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22.07.2019

When we speak to Zain Memon on July 16, he’s been up for four nights straight. Not so unusual for a gamer, we think, especially for one who’s developed and just launched his own big-bang board game, Shasn.
 
We look at the hefty box before us, coloured in the same black as Zain’s dark circles – we imagine - and veined with silver outlines of faces and symbols. Zain’s adrenaline is infectious, which makes us unbox hurriedly, to find inside a strategy board game that turns you into a politician in the middle of a heated election. Prepare to make tough policy decisions, earn and manage resources and voters, and find yourself in constant stages of negotiation and sabotage with 4-5 other players, the rule book tells us. 
 
“You will laugh, shout, back stab, argue, and use and lose your mind - an entire House of Cards experience in two hours,” says Zain, co-founder and COO of Memesys Culture Lab, and head of Else VR, Asia’s largest virtual reality lab. The icing on the election is that the game is backed by Anand Gandhi, the significant man behind An Insignificant Man and Ship of Theseus. (Remember when we beamed you up into his studio?)

“You will laugh, shout, back stab, argue, and use and lose your mind - an entire House of Cards experience in two hours.”

Prime Time Minister

 “Shasn was born from the fact that so many of us find it difficult to have a civil conversation about politics; it’s really just all vitriol. This game on the other hand, leads to low stakes fights, without things getting personal.”
 
Despite his roots in VR and his gazillion-strong video game collection, Zain chose to create his first project in a board game format, because he wanted to give you a compelling group activity, one that enriches you like good cinema or literature can. He also promises that although Shasn is centered around politics, it isn’t an academic exercise that requires you to be well-informed about world affairs. It doesn’t hurt to be, though. Just saying.

 “Shasn was born from the fact that so many of us find it difficult to have a civil conversation about politics; it’s really just all vitriol".

Shasn has currently launched on Kickstarter, where you can buy it for the next 25 days. It costs USD 60 or 90, depending on the edition you opt for – boards include USA 2020 Campaign; India 2020 Campaign; Rome 40 BCE and Earth 2040.
 
Intrigued? Buy it and indulge in a different kind of party system this weekend.
 
Getting there: Shasn, donate to Kickstarter – they’ve crossed their targets – and buy the game here.

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