PINC Profile: Nashra Balagamwala

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With the imminent arrival of PINC 2018 this Thursday, December 6, once again promising a day full of passionate speakers covering a broad and varied range of topics, SRQ went behind the scenes with a few of these incoming artists, activists and entrepreneurs for a quick taste of what’s to come. Experiential Designer Nashra Balagamwala specializes in game and event design, and dedicates her skills and creativity to fashioning games and experiences that lead participants to talk about controversial and sensitive cultural topics, such as arranged marriage, with greater ease and openness.

SRQ: Why did you want to come to Sarasota and spend time with this audience in particular? Balagamwala: I have spoken at quite a few conferences, each one aimed at one particular topic or goal, for example, a game design convention, a human rights convention, a female empowerment event. However, this is the first time that there are no boundaries, and I'm so excited to be around such a diverse crowd with so many different areas of interest. It's going to be an exciting 12 hours!

2. When did you realize that arranged marriage was something to be challenged, not accepted? I was eight years old when my sister was watching My Best Friend's Wedding and I saw how crazy Julia Roberts (Julianne) was about Michael, and all the crazy things it made her do. At that moment, I started comparing it to all the marriages I'd seen around me, and how many of them felt engineered rather than for this consuming overwhelming love. That's when I thought to myself, I want to marry someone I'm crazy about, someone I'm hopelessly in love with, not just someone who's "right" for me.

3. Why use games as the medium for your message? It's not easy getting people to sit down and talk about these things without making it a dark and depressing evening. However, people are usually open to playing games. This is why I felt that it was a good medium to approach these topics. Masking them into a lighthearted setting makes it easier for people to have this conversation. I also believe that people are more likely to discuss a topic if they experience it together (say, while playing a game), rather than if they experience it on their own time, alone.

Pictured: Nashra Balagamwala. Photo courtesy PINC 2018.

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