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BT_20151106_ANSMOL6A_1961111.jpg
Instead of the usual card games (above), opt for Smol Tok which brings idle chatter to an end, and good-natured banter back in vogue again. The basic deck contains 60 cards with questions ranging from "What do you most like to eat in the whole wide world?" to "How do you want to be remembered?" and retails at S$32.90.

BT_20151106_ANSMOL6A_1961111.jpg
Instead of the usual card games, opt for Smol Tok (above) which brings idle chatter to an end, and good-natured banter back in vogue again. The basic deck contains 60 cards with questions ranging from "What do you most like to eat in the whole wide world?" to "How do you want to be remembered?" and retails at S$32.90.

BT_20151106_ANSMOL6A_1961111.jpg
Instead of the usual card games, opt for Smol Tok (above) which brings idle chatter to an end, and good-natured banter back in vogue again. The basic deck contains 60 cards with questions ranging from "What do you most like to eat in the whole wide world?" to "How do you want to be remembered?" and retails at S$32.90.

Go old-school with new card game

Ditch that smartphone and go for Smol Tok, a deck of cards designed for meaningful conversation.
Nov 6, 2015 5:50 AM

HAVE you ever felt that you're not where you're supposed to be? Or that there's something more for you out there? If you're looking to explore a deeper connection with yourself, or indeed, with others, a newly launched local startup might just be the tool to get started.

Step aside, Cards Against Humanity. Singaporean startup Starknicked (pronounced "stark naked") recently developed a card game that's nothing like any other card game you've seen before, and it's all about helping people get in touch with their inner selves.

Smol Tok might seem like a misnomer, but it's deliberate - both to make the game sound non-intimidating, and to create opportunities for people to turn idle chit-chat into something deeper.

Founder of Starknicked Nicholas Pang says: "I think that if people play the game with intention, they get to have meaningful conversations about more than the weather, politics or gossip. You get to focus on the things that are important to an individual, and maybe through conversation, they can understand themselves and others better."

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The basic deck was launched earlier this year, and consists of 60 question cards that cater to three different categories: personality, community and intimacy. The cards vary in difficulty levels, but they don't indicate how personal the questions are. Rather, "there are certain questions that require a bit more recall or reflection time, so that's what the levels are there for," says Mr Pang.

The 33-year-old conceptualised the game after receiving a present from a friend last year. He recalls: "There was a message on the gift that read, 'What would you do if you knew you could not fail?' and that got me thinking about a few things I'd been working on, but not committed to."

He started wondering about his direction in life over the next few weeks, and had soon amassed questions to help him figure it out. Mr Pang says: "I talked to close friends and family about these questions and was surprised to find that they seemed to get a lot out of them too. So I thought it might benefit others, and decided to compile them into a game."

Why a card game and not an app, you ask? "The aim of Smol Tok is to help people experience what it's like to share answers, some of which can be personal, in a group setting. For something like that, you need to be present. I can't see this happening in an app because people need to be focused on their conversations with the people in their immediate surroundings, and phones can be too distracting," he shares.

For this reason, it seemed appropriate to market it in Singapore. The corporate communications executive explains: "There are a lot of conflicting reports about people who are becoming more socially conscious and people who are still very materialistic. I think a game like this would be key to breaking down some boundaries and re-evaluating our values. Singaporeans also have a tendency to be obsessed with their mobile phones, and this is a great way to set it aside for some time and engage in old-fashioned face-to-face communication."

Mr Pang has been facilitating sessions of Smol Tok every week, and prefers to do it over a three-course dinner as he feels that good food is the best complement for good conversation. While some sessions are held among family and friends, he says that others have been held with complete strangers.

The results are surprising: "I've found that people want to be vulnerable, but they don't know how. This game is almost an excuse for them to talk about things that matter to them, while getting input from other people. Despite being strangers at the start, the game can help you lay a foundation for a meaningful conversation. And this is just over three to five hours!"

Despite only starting to retail the game a month ago, Mr Pang already has plans for expansion, both in terms of the game, as well as regionally. An expansion pack for Smol Tok will come out in early 2016 dubbed Don't Talk Kok, dealing with issues closer to home. He explains: "It'll contain questions that are targeted at how people identify as Singaporeans, and the experiences they've had specifically because of it." While the details are yet to be pinned down, he does intend to sell the game outside Singapore as well. "The English-speaking countries in the region are a natural expansion area, and we're looking at translating it into other languages as well, so we have access to more markets within Southeast Asia."

The Smol Tok basic deck costs S$32.90. To purchase it, or for more information, please visit www.starknicked.com/