Jasmine Pradhan interviews Jed and Sophia Lazar, the husband and wife team behind Cozy Juicy Real, an innovative new game that’s designed to help us have more meaningful and memorable conversations.
You’re a husband and wife team that has been working for 3 years to create a board game that helps to bring people together in a meaningful way. Tell us about Cozy Juicy Real…
It began as a simple vision: more fun and fulfilling hangouts with people we care about.
Have you ever hung out with friends you adore, but then realised at the end of the night that all you talked about was what to watch on Netflix, how badly you should exercise, and your hopes for a sunny holiday?
For sure, those catch-ups have their place… but personally we like to keep them to a minimum. And along our game-making journey, we’ve learned that we’re not alone. So many people have expressed that real conversations are better than small talk.
Most of us are used to playing conversations safe – maybe we’re cautious of being ‘too provoking’ or afraid of being vulnerable. The truth is that safe conversation can be nice (and useful), but they’re not very meaningful, and certainly not memorable.
When we think back on our lives, we’re not going to remember the chit chat. But we will remember the times when someone took a risk and shared a dream they’re quietly working towards or shared a piece of wisdom that we really value. Those are the moments that mean something.
If you could choose to have more of those moments, wouldn’t you?
Who is it for?
It’s especially for those craving real conversations, meaningful moments and wanting to have a laugh. And it’s also for people who want to open up, but might usually find it difficult.
Saying that, the game has been consciously designed to be accessible to everyone – so anyone can meet up, have fun and enjoy authentic conversations from the get-go. We know from our own lives that it’s easy to slip into small-talk, so the game makes spending time together engaging and alive without having to force anything.
The game feels like a really relevant offering for this time in human history, where many people are feeling isolated and cut off. In what ways do you feel that the game can bridge some of the gaps that many are all feeling as a result of Covid-19?
As soon as quarantine began we started getting messages asking us to make the game available online.
People have shared they’re feeling disconnected and also want a way to talk about something other than Covid-19. Plus, group conversations over video chat can feel fragmented and frustrating. So finding a way to offer the game online has been one of the most exciting parts of this journey.
You’ve recently created an online version of the game which will bring together strangers to play together via zoom. What’s it like playing with a group of strangers vs playing with a group of people who know each other?
The game has been played by families, friends, complete strangers on different continents, corporate teams and groups of foster kids. We’re consistently amazed at how all groups of people become closer in such a short span of time.
For the month of June, we’ve set up small game events for people to play for free. Readers of West London Living can now register here. Each game is limited to six players, so if you have people in mind that you’d like to play with – let them know soon. We’ll be there to show you the ropes and play the game with you.
After you’ve played with us, we’ll gift you access to the online game so you can play anytime, with anyone you’d like.
Can you give us an example of the kinds of questions you might be asked or the challenges you might be set?
The game comes with different levels of questions and activities, based on how deep you want to go and the type of questions you like to answer.
When you start the game, you might answer the question…
“Imagine you can magically bring a fictional character into real life. Who do you choose?”
As you progress through the levels you might be asked…
“Of all the people you’d like to reconnect with from your past, who would you choose, and why?” …
Or you might get to decide who in the group has the best evil laugh.
Connection is obviously a key theme of the game. What does connection mean to you and why is it so important?
To us – connection means being really present with the person sitting across from us and giving them permission to be their real self… What’s their experience of the world? How does it feel? What do they wish for?
Studies show that when we hear something we can relate to, we release the feel-good hormone oxytocin, triggering our sense of trust and compassion. It makes us feel alive and human. And we get to learn about others on a deep level.
Plus, humans are social beings- it’s in our DNA. The longest-running study on human happiness, conducted at Harvard, found a strong association between happiness and close relationships. So even though this is a game, it’s about a lot more than having fun.
What inspired you to create the game?
In the past, we sought out different ways to have more meaningful hangouts: question decks, table topics, conversation starters. But there’s something about a board game that allows for so much more…it creates a journey, variety and interaction.
At first, the game was simple and clunky (it was kind of awkward actually). But over time, something amazing happened: small groups of people who craved real conversations would come to play, lower their guard, and share ideas for the game. Thanks to them the game has evolved into something great.
What has it been like working on developing the game together? Has it had any impact on your relationship?
Well…we (thankfully) both agree it’s a journey that’s brought us closer.
It can be intense working with your partner on a project that you both really care about. Sometimes we bicker about the small stuff. Most of the time though we love our time together and share the same vision for the game.
Working on this project also means we’ve played the game countless times and gotten to know each other really well. That’s definitely made our relationship stronger.
Aside from creating board games, what are other ways that you love to spend your time?
Well, COVID aside, Jed loves a good night out at Franco Manca (and yes, then a trip to the gelato shop). Sophia loves getting creative, which might mean baking bread, designing our website or playing with her sewing machine. And we both love spending time outdoors on our bicycles.
If you could play Cozy Juicy Real with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Well, six people can play the game at a time, so we’d be greedy and pick Sir David Attenborough, Michelle Obama, the Dalai Lama, Brené Brown and Trevor Noah to play with us. We think that would make for an interesting evening.