At 18 years old, Nashra Balagamwala was pressured into an arranged marriage. Born and raised in Pakistan, she sought to become a designer and to “find her own guy.”
By 24, Balagamwala created a board game that helped her continue to stray from an arranged marriage. The game is called Arranged! The objective is to dodge the matchmaker.
In Arranged! Balagamwala weaves experiences she has used to avoid her commitment.
She told Mashable:
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.
Arranged! takes you on a journey. As you travel around the board, cards command the player to make decisions and advance – all the while moving away from that matchmaker.
Balagamwala received immense feedback:
I’ve had several Pakistani and Indian girls reach out to thank me for finally speaking up…I’ve also dealt with a lot of criticism. Many Pakistanis have said negative remarks and have made it clear to me that I’m a disgrace because I’m bad mouthing the society.
After graduating from The Rhode Island School of Design, Balagamwala’s visa expired and returned to Pakistan. However, she continued to hope that Arranged! would encourage woman to strive for an education, a career or a marriage based on love.
This game has really helped decrease the pressure of getting an arranged marriage. 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.
Balagamwala understands that a game cannot change the world, however she hopes that the game will spark discussions and in turn, revelations:
…by discussing the problems these societies face, they might start to realize how flawed these norms are and eventually work towards fixing it.