Interview with Joriam Philipe
I moved to a new city and I was having trouble connecting to anyone. So I made jojojo as a tool, an artefact to help me out. "Do you want to grab some coffee?" quickly became "do you want to participate on a social experiment?" or "do you want to play a personality game?". Suddenly I was surrounded by curious and interesting people. Communication improved overnight. When I first realised that those curious humans were having weird and profound conversations using the game without my interference, I knew I had something powerful in my hands.
Hey Joriam, could you tell us more about Jojojo?
It's a card game and an analogue game, physical game and the idea is a game to connect people to accelerate the connections. There's something good between you and me. Some great conversation we can have. But generally, it takes a while it takes a lot of a small talk to get to the good bits. The idea of this game is to accelerate those conversations. Made of two piles of different types of question each of those cards has the question. This is a weird pile of questions like "If you're a battery, which electronic device would you love to power? Which one would you hate to do?". This profound pile which is "What's your most precious object? Why is it important?" This sort of question and of course some cards with different rules it's that you can use those questions depending on the situation, the number of people etc. I did not create most of those questions. It was crowdsourced. I was testing and testing and people were suggesting questions and I tested them questions it was a sort of a hunger games of questions. Those are the ones who survived this brutal process and it's still thrilling to me that this exists, is a thing that exists. I made this game. I made a thing that was to become this game eventually because I moved to Berlin and I was lonely and having a hard time connecting to people, I was meeting a lot of people but not you know not making any friends and Jojojo was my solution which was a bunch of post it notes with the questions ended up becoming Jojojo and now it's a thing that people can use all around the world. It's amazing.
What was the inspiration behind Jojojo, are there any other games like it?
Most games start from an artistic process. You imagine something beautiful interesting in the world. And you set out to create that something or the closest you can. It was not my case. That's not the case for Jojojo. Jojojo started as a problem. I was in this new land, Germany and struggling to make true beautiful connections. My connection powers were not working here so I set out to create a tool, so very different. But by all means is not the only question game out there. So the School of Life has a couple that is '21 questions', there's is a game called '21 questions, there's is a game called 'Truth or Dare'. So there's plenty out there. But they are always different in what they ask from the players. So, for example, the School of Life has this game I own this game called 'The Confessions Game' and from one rule set standpoint, a similar to Jojojo, two different chords and different piles different questions. But this game is trying to bring people's vulnerability out while my game, not at all, my game is trying to create the perfect subject of conversation between people that the conversation is going to flow but of course of those question games share a lot of similarities and the innovative part of Jojojo is actually the end rule. Jojojo ends the game ends when you forget about the game. This is something that I've never seen before in any of those out there but if you like questions games there's plenty for you to have fun around and I stimulate you to please try as many as you can. If you're want a challenge it's actually a research from one of those big labs with 36 questions for you to fall in love and the New York Times article about this as well. Those are really good questions. Very interesting. You can try that.
What was the most difficult facet of producing your own game?
Well, Jojojo was not the first game I made. But it's the first analogue, physical, touchable game I made and it comes with a lot of challenges and also it's weird. I don't know, I'm just so used to the digital world and suddenly I have this game that comes with the effort I could eat it, i could burn it, it can rot, literally rot in a warehouse. And yeah this comes with a bag of frogs. I had to figure out how to printed in a foreign land which didn't speak the language. Every time that I ship my game to a reviewer have to pay for it, in a digital world this is unthinkable. But yet here I am. Of course I wanted or at least my initial idea was to make it digital. But I tested it and it didn't work. People actually wanted the game physical so they would have an excuse to look away from their screen, notifications and I obliged. But it's true that I have a great relationship with the people who print the game and even ship the game, really really nice folks, but it's weird it's not digital. And you know everyone thinks they know the business better than I do and like you should have made it digital. Oh man I know. I studied this so hard anyway. I think the fact that my game can rot. It's a big deal.
What is something that recently inspired you? A good film or book, conversation or meal?
There is this podcast called 'Invisibilia'. It's really great. I'd recommend ten out of ten and last season has this episode called 'I, I, I. Him'. It's an episode about loss and no spoilers here just a framework to understand the episode. No big deal. They have this idea that when you lose something or somebody that's really important, it's a part of your identity even the only way that you can overcome this. The only way that you can carry on with your life, not forget, just carry on is that if you create a story about yourself for yourself in which this episode is gone it's processed. So you can think of yourself. You can create this narrative about yourself that you're somebody who's been through a traumatic experience or you can carry on with your previous narrative of yourself and be affected by, be weighted down by a big loss. And I listened for the first time to this episode a couple of months ago. And I keep coming back to it. I think it's a sad thing about humans and how we relate to stories and how we are the stories we tell ourselves. So you're interested in that give Invisibilia a look.
What's some good advice for anyone thinking of launching a producet?
I don't think I'm a really good target for this question. I'm a Steve Jobs, but yes sure. Well one thing that made my journey happier, easier, more enjoyable was that I made a product that makes people happy. And when I say happy I don't mean anything is happy. If you make a product that makes people spend less time on transportation or that means life of the dentist easier because this is a simpler process. That's great. But this is not happiness. I'm talking about happiness, smiles, rushes endorphins, the experience of wonder. If you make a product like I did. It makes people happy. Everything will be justified every single time that you stay up to 5 in the morning finishing a Website or video or whatever in the next day, the next week somebody's going to send you an e-mail saying "hey you made me happy, this makes me happy, my life happier". And this really helps you carry on and admit your mistakes and do the hard things because yeah sure somebody may say "Yeah, yeah sure. Great. I saved two thousand dollars because of the product. Thank you". That's something, that's cool but I had a great conversation with my dad for the first time in two years something that I've heard before and he just makes me want to do more, makes me do this thing forever.
What's next for you? A new game or a new career move?
I've got another game on the pipeline, a VR game but that just for next year. Also, studying some new Jojojo expansions and translations. Still figuring this out. The next next thing immediate next thing in the pipeline. It's actually not a game. It's a box of smart books. Imagine a physical box. But it has an electronic lock. So you put something that you care inside. You put your video game controller, your car keys something then you tell this box "I'm only going to open this. You're only going to open this. If I run two miles till Sunday or if I write a hundred pages in my next book" and then you can check this box with some tracking method like your Fitbit, or a blog, or some other API some other Web site or service and you don't tell the box when you've finished the books keeps on checking if you finish what you what you proposed. So it's a motivation mechanism that you can use. You can put whatever is actually going to motivate you over there. If it's a bottle of whiskey or your keys your summer vacation home. I don't know. You can choose, you can program it. It's called 'Leap box' and it's a late prototype development, I'm doing this with an amazing team of people from New Zealand, people from Brazil, Germany. It's great. And later this year we're going to release more information about that. Leap box, it's fun project. I got to say.