Mismo! New Pinoy board game strikes gold

by Kristine Servando, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak

Posted at Aug 28 2009 10:05 PM | Updated as of Aug 31 2009 10:45 PM

MANILA - "Ano ang matamis na malagkit? Mahiwaga at maselan? Matigas at mainit?"

These double-entendres that only a Pinoy can decode are at the heart of the fun and wacky board game "Mismo!", which has been making waves in the Philippine market since its release in late June this year.

The word-association board game features twin roulettes, word cards, voting chips, and prize discs and is packed in a colorfully designed purple box.

The game's Pinoy creators who are all based in Bangkok - Roby and Joy Alampay, Ferdinand and Norma Maomay, and Mike and Jo-Ann Morallos - envisioned the game to be a fun and uniquely Filipino experience.

What started as a running joke among their circle of friends, who would regularly get together on weekends, eventually became the winning concept of "Mismo!"

"We didn't intend on making a game. One time, we were together and we were talking about a lot of things. Then one of us, I think it was Ferdie, couldn't think of a particular food. 'Ano yun pare, yung matamis na malagkit?' Paulit-ulit siya. None of us could get it," said Roby Alampay, the game's co-creator and the Executive Director of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance.

"I made a joke, sabi ko, 'Matamis na malagkit? Pagtitinginan yun!' After that, iba-iba na sinasabi. And it sort of became a running joke every time we got together. Eventually, it became a game for us," he said.

How to play

Gameplay is simple enough. Four to 10 players can play the game with each player given 10 word cards containing either names, concepts, objects, or ideas from Philippine culture. There are over 600 word cards from "Manny Pacquiao" to "Shoulder Pads."

The twin roulettes, each containing almost 70 adjectives from "groovy" to "mamasa-masa (moist)", will be spun to come up with an adjective pair.

Each player must then choose from their hand one word card that they think fits the description.

Once all players lay down their best cards, each will vote on the best answer using their voting chips but are barred from voting for their own card. Tied votes will be resolved through tie-breakers.

The winning player for that round wins a pink "MIS" disc and is eligible to win a purple "MO" chip should he or she win in the next round.

After winning the "MO" chip, a player is eligible to win the lone PADAMDAM chip - a green disc with a yellow exclamation point - should he or she win the next round after that.

The first player to win the PADAMDAM chip wins the game.

Inside jokes

What keeps players laughing are the adjective pairs that show up and what words - sometimes completely unrelated - could possibly fit them.

For example, players could choose which among "Fernando Poe Jr." and "leeg (neck)" fits the description "maiksi (short)" and "magaspang (rough)" if those are the best cards they have.

As Alampay said, the game is everything a Filipino could possibly want. "May baraha na, may rouleta pa! Pinoy na pinoy. So it was clear to us that those elements were important."

In true democratic fashion, the game also has voting chips. While players could simply raise their hands to vote, Alampay said Filipinos like the feeling of slapping cards on a table.

"Ang kagandahan dito, walang mali. Lahat tama. Ganyan tayo, magulo pero demokratiko. Although it's true that all of the presidentiables we could anticipate [are] there. Chiz Escudero, Joseph Estrada, Loren Legarda, Bayani Fernando. So we did have the elections in mind, though it wasn't very big in our consciousness," he said.

They are even thinking of rolling out expansion products like a Bisaya or Kapampangan card expansion, or a "Tander Cats" edition with word cards containing concepts that those in a certain generation could relate to (think "Mazinger-Z").

Soon to come is an online interactive dictionary where users can define certain words Twitter-style (meaning, in 140 characters or less). They can also thumb up or thumb down the user-generated definitions.

100% Pinoy, world-class

The game has certainly drawn a lot of interest from Pinoy consumers.

Since the game has not been formally launched, the game's creators have been promoting it by word-of-mouth, their "Mismo!" website, and on Facebook.

They have also linked up with top-notch retailers Hobbes and Landes, mag:net cafe, Papemelroti, and other distributors who have been enthusiastic about the product because of its unique concept and world-class packaging of heavy cardboard and quality art.

Alampay said he and the other game-designers pieced the game together with the help of some business-minded friends who helped in the research and development stages to its final design and promotions.

As a journalist, Alampay wrote the game's copy, while Ferdinand, a graphic artist who works for an outdoor advertising firm, came up with the artwork and initial game prototype.

Jo-Ann, a theater actress and stage manager, directed the shoot for their promotional photo, which features the game creators and their children.

Mike, a bank executive who has IT expertise, came up with the "Mismo!" website. They also had the game printed by a small company, AAP Printers, early this year.

"We have to keep it within the group to keep the cost low," Alampay said.

Masaya Mismo!

Priced at P1,975, the game is targeted towards middle-class families, "barkadas", and homesick Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who want a taste of home.

"We made it for ourselves eh, we made it for people who not just miss the Philippines but who love everything about it. People who will laugh just looking at the card that says 'manggang hilaw'," Alampay said.

He said it's perfect for family reunions, get-togethers, and Christmases. Anyone can play, from young people to old people to those crazy, conservative, or naughty.

Families can discover things about the Philippines together, while young and old generations can teach each other about words they encounter and the contexts behind them.

Alampay said they are still thinking of launching events like "Mismo! nights" and "Mismo! Sundays" with retailer stores soon. The group is also contemplating on bringing the game to their fellow OFWs in Saudi Arabia and North America.

For now, though, the board game is making the rounds, bringing Filipinos everywhere a lot of joy.

"We've seen people just looking at the words on a card, rifling through [them], and laughing. Whether it's memories, a funny thought or naughty thought, whatever. People just have a good feeling looking at all these cards that altogether define all these different wonderful things that make up the Philippines and being Filipino," Alampay said. Report by Kristine Servando, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.