Sunday, February 18, 2018

Try Doh Say Dat


Mark Fraser

Daniella Maraj and Allister Raghunanan love board games. 

They have played them at the homes of friends and at game nights organised at their home.  

So it came as no surprise to anyone close to the couple when they created Doh Say Dat — their own board game.

The two often played the Hasbro clue-and-guess game Taboo with friends and they couldn’t help but notice how the players used phrases and actions unique to Trinidad and Tobago to get their teammates to guess the word on their cards. 

“With the word apple for instance,” Raghunanan said, one of the clues given by someone was ‘people leave here to go to Canada to pick these’; that is something a Trinbagonian would say.”

“Another clue that players gave for apple was ‘we eat this fruit mainly at Christmas time’.”

The couple did their research via online and person-to-person polls across the country and found that, despite the digital overload, board games were still widely played here. 

Maraj, a linguistics and language major, was responsible for the game’s content and she and Raghunanan collaborated with a few friends on the instructions. 

“We knew that we wanted the box of the game to be in the national colours, “she said.

“At first we thought about putting a map of Trinidad and Tobago on it, but then we found it was too childish for our target age group of 18-plus.”

The game is for all ages, but the tag of 18-plus was put on as a disclaimer since the instructions also include a Doh Say Dat drinking game.

“We changed little details of the game about five times before we got it the way we want,” Maraj said.

“We also played it on the computer with friends to see how it would work.”

Since this is a local board game, Maraj and Raghunanan wanted to go local with the artwork and printing as well. They went to Innovant designs and secured the services of Ajyei Archer, creative lead, who actually came up with the idea to put an explanation of the T&T creole words. 

The Doh Say Dat word game features four different categories (People, Places, Phrases and Things) and uses our English creole words and phrases.

“Our national language is Trinidad and Tobago creole. But it is also a mix of African languages, Bhojpuri (from India), Cantonese and Hakka, Spanish and French. Doh Say Dat shows people just how beautiful our national language is while teaching about our culture,” said Maraj.

She added that they hope the board game would eventually build, promote and memorialise this country’s cultural identity, heritage and history and promote its national language, folklore, traditions and people. 

“Games and toys fall under a distinct sub-categorisation within the creative and cultural industries. These commodities reflect the creative endeavour of a cultural collective,” Maraj explained.

“Trinidad and Tobago currently produces no commodities under the Games and Toys sub-categorisation. Doh Say Dat is a game for Trinbagonians developed by Trinbagonians in order to teach and share Trinbagonian culture and history locally and abroad.”

As any other board game out there, players are free to change the rules and play the game their way. 

Doh Say Dat hit the stores last Christmas and the sales of the game have been impressive, Maraj and Raghunanan said.

The Doh Say Dat Facebook page has also been a place where fans of the game get to meet and interact. Fans on the page number over 8,000.

“We also have people buying in bulk for their friends and family living overseas,” Raghunanan, a pilot, said. 

The couple want Doh Say Dat to become a brand and see a huge potential for product expansion. They are currently working on a Doh Say Dat Sport and Doh Say Dat music edition. With the first game in the bag, Maraj and Raghunanan said it’s easier to put out other games with ease.

“The difficult part of getting the game on stream is behind us,” said Maraj.

The two want to see the game being played by Trinidadians and Tobagonians who live in other countries across the world.

“We still can’t believe sometimes that this game was created by us,” Maraj said with a laugh.

“When we are bored at home this is the game we pull out to play,” Raghunanan added. “Even though we created it, the different clues a person can give for any one of the 400 cards chosen will always be different and keep the game fresh.”

Doh Say Dat is on Facebook.