It was during the covid-19 lockdown last year that Mumbai-based board- and card-game designer Nikita Mathur Zatakia launched her first card game, Dive Master, on scuba diving. While Dive Master is an engrossing game that involves equal parts strategy and luck, the 30-year-old has now come up with a new card game, Mission Pawssible, to create awareness about rescued and shelter animals.
The objective of the card game, which can be played by two-five people, is to take care of shelter animals and help with adoptions—in effect, mimic the process and hopefully encourage it.
The game features 16 real dogs and cats from four animal welfare NGOs Zatakia has collaborated with: CARE (Charlies Animal Rescue Centre in Bengaluru), People for Animals (which was founded by politician Maneka Gandhi and has a presence across the country), The Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD) and World for All, both in Mumbai.
Each player dons the role of a volunteer at an animal shelter and earns points by taking care of the kennel animals and getting them adopted. “The game delivers a message. It is cute and fun at the same time,” says Zatakia, publisher and founder of NMZ GAMES, a company she started last year.
The game has 120 cards: activity cards, kennel cards, task cards, family cards, distraction cards, rescue cards and bonus point cards. A player can score points by completing a set of combinations required by a specific kennel animal, adding bonus point cards, and by successfully getting a kennel animal adopted. The player with most points wins.
“Animal welfare is something that is very close to me and this card game is focusing on cats and dogs from different animal shelters in India. The goal was to convey the idea of ‘don’t shop, adopt’. The game’s theme is fairly universal,” Zatakia says over the phone.
The kennel animals are not just illustrated on the cards; the cards also have information on the background of the animals, what they have gone through, and their wait for a home. “The whole game is about taking care of the animals. The cards give you an idea about how that would translate in real life: It could be giving them love and affection, giving them food, taking them out for walks and exercise,” says Zatakia.
The illustrations are by Mumbai-based artist Deepthi Rajan, while Zatakia worked on the game design and creatives. Zatakia says creating the game took a fair amount of time, including developing the game mechanics, play testing and gathering feedback. Mission Pawssible is available on the NMZ GAMES website for ₹450, and across 105 countries, including India, through Amazon.com.
Zatakia says part of the sales proceeds from the game will be donated to the four organisations: “I would like to give back to these NGOs. That was also the goal. I feel there are a lot of people out there who are passionate about pets and taking care of animals. They would also relate to the game, apart from the usual card gamers.”