A new board game aims to shed light on how families in some cultures still pressure young people into the age-old tradition of arranged marriages.
Taking inspiration from her own life experience, Pakistani-American designer Nashra Balagamwala created “Arranged!”.
“I’m doing this for all the women out there in abusive and loveless marriages,” she explained. “For the women who were forced into marrying a man twice their age.”
In the game, three women attempt to avoid getting themselves forced into an arranged marriage. All they have to do is dodge the game’s “villain”, the matchmaker Rishta Aunty.
“Arranged!” lets players evade the perils of an arranged marriage by gaining weight, talking about wanting to pursue a career, or blackmailing the aunty. Rishta, on the other hand, is on the mission to determine if the girls have child-bearing hips or can be good in cooking.
“I think the first step to fixing any problem is to acknowledge that there is a problem, to begin with, and to have a conversation about it,” Balagamwala wrote.
“Arranged! masks the darkness of this topic, and provides a platform for people to be able to discuss these issues in a very lighthearted setting,” she said.
Balagamwala, who had previously worked for toy company Hasbro, told Mashable that an idea to make the game struck her after listing the things she had done to avoid an arranged marriage.
“Wearing fake engagement rings, getting a tan or being seen with male friends in public, [these are] the things I had done to avoid an arranged marriage myself,” she was quoted as saying.
The game has so far helped relieve her of the pressures of the traditional custom.
“This game has really helped decrease the pressure of getting an arranged marriage,” Balagamwala added. “Ever since I’ve spoken up…I’m no longer the perfect submissive bride these women are looking for because I’m…too strong-minded and independent.”
Hopefully, other women will also feel empowered to “pursue things such as an education, a career or a love marriage.”
To raise funds for the game, Balagamwala set up a Kickstarter campaign with a $6,000 goal. With seven days to go, the game has raised over $15,000 from 314 backers so far. Manufactured in Pakistan, “Arranged!” can be purchased online for $30.