Fresh From The Field — Meet the Candidates – By MK Templer
Fresh from the Field is a weekly article series sharing the fresh and inspiring work of our Aotearoa Design Assembly community.
Created with the intention of engaging young voters through play; illustrator, MK Templer, created a card game that inserts Aotearoa’s politicians and policies into a game format inspired off of Magic: The Gathering.
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‘Meet the Candidates’ started as a small idea last election in 2020. The idea to make a card game inspired by Politics in Aotearoa. Learning about politicians and policies is like wading into a sea of information. It can be overwhelming for even the most engaged voter. Addressing and aiding the issue of low voter turnout among youth, ‘Meet the Candidates’ was created with the intention of engaging young voters through play.
Magic: The Gathering is one of the most popular card games in the world. Over its history there have been many expansion decks and bootleg creations. The initial game play and structure of ‘Meet the Candidates’ was inspired by Magic, it being a natural place to build from. Instead of Creature Cards, you have Candidates. Landscape cards become Policy and Spells become Political Powers.
The Design Response
‘Meet the Candidates’ has been a project chipped away at over the course of a year. The process of making the game was something very organic. I went into it knowing the broader outcome, but the product itself went through many iterations as I realised the scope and what was feasible with the 2023 election looming.
As an illustrator, my first step was to start with the drawings. The game contains a total of 85 individually researched and illustrated cards. 45 of these cards are Candidates from 5 of the major parties. I was very excited about drawing so many caricatures, but also about drawing a background for each card with clues about each candidate. While a few of the cards did get these backgrounds, it quickly became evident that I was never going to finish the project in time for the election if I did every card. Taking a step back and getting advice from my work colleagues, I went for the party logo as a backdrop.
While I kept chipping away at the illustration side, I began my research. This was about trying to understand why they want to be in parliament, their background and what they wish to achieve in their time there. I did this through watching speeches and reading articles from the past 3 years and collating all of this information into a few sentences. Feedback on the writing of the cards came from a number of different sources once they had been written. I put out a request on social media and got a range of feedback across the political spectrum.
A cool discovery through this project was the datalink window in InDesign. This was another helpful idea from a colleague who saw me individually laying out each card in photoshop. I played around with the layout, fonts and size of the cards a lot at this point. The amount of text is more than what you’d find on a typical Magic: The Gathering card, so making the text legible became a challenge. The font I had chosen, BD Supper, can become difficult to read in a paragraph. By switching the flavour text to Georgia and printing the deck at a tarot deck size, I was able to make sure the cards were legible while still containing the important information about each Candidate.
Through playtesting and editing, the final version of ‘Meet the Candidates’ differed in many ways from Magic. I was grateful to have lovely friends who helped to figure out how to make the game play quickly and easily. The ability and mechanic that each Candidate possess was built in connection to either their party or individual character. This added another layer of meaning to the design which was exciting.
The response to the project has been really positive. Upon reflection, while I think the design itself meets the brief, finding and getting the game to the young people who might not be voting is an area I’d like to focus more on in the future.
The Design Team
(Partial funder) Blackbird Foundation – Protostars Grant