Angry Indians: Recollecting a creative mind’s lockdown-lovechild
Creative types always need something to do. Working in office kept you occupied albeit with things that weren’t always fun and after a while pretty monotonous too. Things were pretty average already and then COVID made everything worse because then you needed to create motivation for just about anything, that too on a regular. Seeing people suffering, dying and the government handling everything like a first-time freelancer while you made a social media post trapped at home felt like we were part of an apocalyptic anime! I didn’t feel like a human for the most part, neither did my friend Rhiju who was actually planning my social media posts, giving me copy, and doing other things that he did.
Accepting COVID as the new reality, we needed something to keep up distracted, to keep those creative chemicals flowing, legally. Starting from just an idea to creating a board or card game was a good middle ground between art, strategy, copy and business, so I created Angry Indians with handsome Rhiju (mmm so handsome). But between him and myself, we never really thought we’ll end up making a card game that people actually play out in the world when we started. It was just for the fun of exchanging ideas, memes, and weird things you find on the Internet and the back alleys of your own head. But even a little push help things snowball and soon enough, people follow an arbitrary set of rules while handling pieces of laminated paper with nice doodles and text on them, all for fun.
Chapter 1: Graduation from meme-sharing
It started with a dialogue, feeling sad about the current situation to cracking dark jokes about the same 4 topics just to tickle our brains. Being from a creative field, if there was something we both loved, it was generating ideas and that’s what we did for months. Inspiration came from memes, politics, art, human behaviour and NSFW (but artful) material. Pitching each other stupid, semi-controversial and surreal ideas trying to make something out of them used to be our favourite activity. After discussing, but mostly discarding, about 15-20 ideas or maybe more, we both settled for something to which we both said, “not bad, not bad at all” before rejecting that too, simply because it belonged in the murky gray-areas of legality in our country. Then we found out being creative is actually difficult, because everything we wanted to do was either illegal, impossible, too expensive, or just something that could go out of fashion with the next big IG/TikTok trend. But then one day Angry Indians happened from one of our conversations, and we both knew it was the one. It was our baby!
Chapter 2: Manufacturing inspiration
Inspiration is great. It makes you want to do many things, but we didn’t want to be just another brick in the wall, maybe that was the reason to reject a drinking game which we had almost settled-on and discarded in the last step. Maybe we were playing it too safe, maybe it wasn’t fun and challenging, maybe simply it wasn’t unique enough. A drinking game was probably a sure shot success in the market but it wasn’t ‘us’. So, after staying confused for long enough, we themed our game around Urban Everyman Indian Culture. But we had to make it funny, or at least satirical because being sincerely artsy for a project this size probably wouldn’t be sustainable for us, knowing how we were. I was actually surprised that there wasn’t a game around it already. Now we had our fundamental idea set, it was time to do a lot of rough writing and sketching so the picture could start getting clearer. Fun fact, we both had enough set of skills to make it happen even though we didn’t know it. I was good at the cool design part and rejecting Rhiju’s ideas, while Rhiju was good at strategising, copy, dealing with my mood swings and making sure that this thing actually happens and the other boring miscellaneous part which I didn’t enjoy including making some excel sheets about stuff, like rules and gameplay, and the things that make a game, a game.
Chapter 3: Self-fulfilling inspiration
The process of making this game taught us a lot, even more than we bargained for in some domains. After getting the first draft printed, by that time lockdown had been partially lifted with T&Cs, we tested this game with our friends while making notes we could use to make our game better. Invariably, we ended up learning about UI in the process, human behaviour, suspensions of disbelief from our drunk friends and colleagues since free beer was the bait for them to come play with us :’). But to our cautious disbelief, they enjoyed the game. The next time we lied to them saying “There is gonna be beer and food guys” and they still enjoyed the game without being drunk or well-fed. I made about 13-14 iterations before the game was completed. But before I could be happy Rhiju reminded me there was much more things we needed like paper, printer, logistics, networking, IP considerations and about 10 million toher things that going into ‘launching’ the game. What you think of should manifest into reality, and it happened for us because we were working together tackling one thing at a time. If it was just one of us it wouldn’t have been more than just an idea. So there’s another lesson for us – ‘get a good partner and don’t be shy to ask for help’.
Act 2: Chapter 1: The real world sucks, but it’s ok
The game is now out and about. I wish I could tell you it was a roaring success but then we really are working in a double niche – ‘board games’ in ‘India’, and the markets remind of you this. It’s waddling its way into crowds of beautiful nerds, but the fact that it’s happening at all is the real success for us. Marketing is gaining some momentum and people who aren’t our friends or family or their friends or family have started picking up boxes and enjoying the game in all its absurdist glory. The most poetic thing about all of this is that the journey has been just as chaotic as the game. We met our own real-life counterparts from it too, like our own ‘Startup Aggarwals’ and ‘Surveillance Aunties’, even facing our own ‘Nunchak Chappals’. Now we’re at that part when things get interesting. It’s been quite literal fun, games and soul-sucking adulting, and it’s all been worth it. Here’s hoping for the best and gratitude for the lessons, and the feedback.
Angry Indians is a card game designed by Abhishek Sheel (from Wololo) and Rhiju Talukdar (from Blue Vector’s Dot Films). You can visit the game’s website on www.angryindiansgame.com