When I came inside my girlfriend, I shouted a loud, “Majulah Singapura!!”
Limpeh Says, the ‘complete the sentence’ style card game that underwent crowdfunding on Kickstarter has already, within the short span of a week, garnered $75,000 in pledges, far exceeding its $20,000 goal. Evidently, Singaporeans love the idea of a uniquely Singaporean twist on the fearlessly politically incorrect Cards Against Humanity.
Instead of playing answers to questions whose subject matter we honestly either have no clue about or can’t relate to, in this version, we get to play cards with slang or terms only we Singaporeans understand to taboo topics including politics, sex, and race, where conversations around these topics tend to go suppressed in Singapore.
Prompted by a school assignment with the theme ‘Local Identity in a Global Context’, what started as a design project that sought to house all of Singapore’s traits—her good, her bad, and her ugly—in one piece of work gave rise to a game many of us Singaporeans are itching to have a go at with our equally horrible friends.
Tan Yong Heng, the man, the jokester, the straight-speaking 20-year-old and his partner, Gabriel Leow, created this game with different intentions in mind; Yong Heng wants to prove to others that pursuing art and creating art do not necessarily have to translate to a bleak, unsuccessful future. Gabriel, on the other hand, hopes this will spark a movement towards pride in and support of locally made games.
“We should all be vocal about things that matter.”
What are some things you aim to achieve with this game?
We (Gabriel, my partner on this project, and I) have different reasons for wanting to make this project a success.
I wanted to show that this was a project from a student studying art. There is still negative social stigma regarding the Arts and humanities, that it entails a bleak future. When people look at this product, I want them to think, ‘Hey, this was actually a project from an art student while he was still studying,’ and to show them that there are actually opportunities for everyone, everywhere.
Gabriel, the co-owner of Play Nation and project manager of Limpeh Says, wants it to be a success because he feels that there is a lack of locally made games in Singapore. Oftentimes, Singaporeans tend to shun from anything local or ‘local adaptations’ from fear of it being a cringe-fest. But that isn’t always the case. He wants people to look at this product and start making their own things too, and hopefully, there will be more locally made games in the future.
What are some fun/funny tidbits you have to share that went behind the creation of this game?
One of the few names we had for the game was ‘Rojak 69’. Rojak because the game has everything about our culture in it, and 69 because it’s just stupid sexual humour. Evidently, I am very mature. We eventually settled for Limpeh Says because we wanted something that’s easy to hashtag, easy to use in a conversation, and something with a local slang.
Also, we like the idea that the person who’s playing the Red Card every round is the ‘limpeh’ who commands and dictates who should be the one worthy of the win.
How did you create a game that was so Singaporean? What additional research did you have to do and what are some things you learnt about Singapore culture during the process?
Firstly, it helped that I was conceived and brought up in this country. From there on, a lot of the things that are in this game just came naturally from experiences of growing up here. So, if you ever want to create a uniquely Singaporean game, my advice is to be born here.
I Googled opinions of Singapore and Singaporeans from locals and foreigners. Interestingly enough, outsiders had a better opinion of our country. Things we take for granted like our clean water, great transport system, 10 months of fresh air…
What is your favourite part about Singapore culture?
I think it’s great that we have such a socially cohesive culture; here, people of all races, religions, and gender live in peace and harmony. It’s also heart-warming to see that we don’t experience blood-baths every other day.
I absolutely adore the fact that we might be one of the most unoriginal countries ever. Heck, even my game isn’t original. But that’s us, right? Our culture is basically a mash-up of all other cultures, although we are influenced largely by the Western side of the world. We’re great at taking an existing product and making it so much better, like education, healthcare, housing. Nothing is ever original here, but everything is better.
And what is your least favourite part?
We’re all too uptight and entitled. Things have to be done a certain way, and to our own expectations. Everything has to be fast and done ASAP, there’s no breathing space. We complain too much–way too much for our own good. Neighbours cooking curry, people playing Pokémon Go, Hello Kitty queues.
Limpeh Says is “a satirical parody of our nation’s culture and fear of taboo topics”. What are some topics you’ve found that Singaporeans (including yourself) cannot talk openly about?
Politics, sex, race, religion, government, money, government using our money, our ancestors.
How did you learn that these topics were not to be spoken of?
Once again, by being born in Singapore. Also, seeing news of people getting sued or jailed for saying way too much.
What do you think about self-censorship?
I think self-censorship is necessary. Humans are inherently very stupid creatures, and we need some sort of filter. Take Amos Yee for example, I think all he had to do was not use such aggressive words or such an aggressive tone and he wouldn’t be where he is today, wherever he is right now. That being said, we should all be vocal about things that matter.
Do you think Singaporeans are becoming more open and willing to address taboo topics nowadays?
For sure. While I do not think that being open is ‘necessary’ or ‘good’, it will definitely spark some social change within Singapore.