Publication by Miro about the future of distributed teamwork

How CozyJuicyReal brought their board game to life in Miro

September 30, 2020

The board game industry has been experiencing a renaissance for the last decade. Last year, Internationale Speiltage – the world’s largest consumer gaming exhibition – hosted over 1,200 vendors and 209,000 attendees from around the world, excited to check out new games from leading developers and independent, upstart designers who poured their hearts and souls into their concepts.

Bringing a game from idea to prototype is a huge task, and seeing your game on the shelves in stores takes energy, passion, and of course, a brilliant product. Jed and Soph Lazar, the husband and wife team of game designers behind the new game Cozy Juicy Real have all three. Their game is designed to help groups and teams move their relationship beyond small talk and have deep, meaningful conversations. In essence, you win by opening up and sharing more about yourself.

Brad Sanzenbacher

Strategic Storytelling Lead, Miro

Brad is a writer with a passion for helping teams communicate with clarity, fun, and humor. He brings his past experience as a teacher, video producer, and sales professional to Miro to help teams collaborate across functions. He lives in Boulder Creek, CA with his wife and pets.


The quest to kill small talk

Jed has always been passionate about meaningful conversations. He believes that moving beyond small talk is especially important in the workplace. “It’s sad when a relationship ossifies at the small talk level,” he said. “And with coworkers, because we spend so much time together, there’s huge potential to create community and deeper connections. Sometimes we just need a little nudge to make it happen.”

Soph says the idea for making a game came to the couple one night in London when they were talking on their way home from the Tube. “We didn’t want to watch a movie…again,” she said. The initial concept for creating a game came up, “and the idea spiraled.”

They originally wanted to build the game as a smartphone app. To test the idea, they made a board game as a prototype. The more they played it, the more they realized that a board game was the right fit for CozyJuicyReal.

Jed and Soph took their CozyJuicyReal prototype while they traveled and played with strangers in Spain, Morocco, Hungary, and other countries around the world. 

Rolling the dice
to break the ice

They took the prototype of Cozy Juicy Real with them in their travels across Europe, playing with strangers in cities like Barcelona, Budapest, and Prague. In each city, they found the game helped them forge deeper connections across cultural barriers and created unforgettable experiences with groups of strangers every time they played.

One time, an individual joined the game who identified himself as having Autism Spectrum Disorder. During the game he shared some personal stories, and later told Jed he had never shared them before. “He said it was a weight off his chest because sharing is difficult for him and the game helped him open up,” Jed explained. “Of all the times we’ve played, that’s one of the most memorable for me.”

Taking the game on the road also serves another purpose. Game design requires frequent iteration, and playing with groups in different cultures gave the team a lot of experience in playtesting. “So every time we play, we gain feedback,” Soph says. “We’re making changes and improving the game constantly.”

Recreating the in-person experience

Unfortunately, COVID-19 put the Kibosh on travel in March of 2020. But at the same time, the pandemic meant people needed connection and conversation more than ever. “When quarantine happened, people who had played the game before started asking us, “Can you please make an online version so I can play with friends over Zoom?”

Soph started searching for a solution the same way most of us would. “I just started Googling an online collaborative whiteboard,” she said. “Many products came up and I tried a bunch. Miro was the best of the lot. It was beautiful – simple and clean, really nice to look at.”

After rebuilding the game on Miro’s infinite canvas, Soph and Jed decided to start hosting live events, facilitating the game for workplace teams and friends. Using Miro, they’ve kept the fun (and testing) going while playing the game safely from home.

Soph recreated the CozyJuicyReal board in Miro, and used Miro to host the game for virtual events.

Using Zoom for video chat and Miro for gameplay, they give a brief introduction to the game at the beginning to help players get started. Jed says the ability to guide people through the game makes events go much more smoothly. “One of my a-ha moments was when we discovered the Bring Everyone To Me function because explaining the rules when people are focused on different areas of the board can be a bit chaotic. It helps make sure everyone is focused on the same thing.”

For Soph, her a-ha moment was in the mechanics of the gameplay itself, when she found out she could recreate the experience of flipping a card in a deck by attaching PDFs. “I tried so many different ways of making a card deck,” she said. “It was an a-ha moment when I realized I could upload PDFs in Miro and turn the pages.”

But the biggest advantage Miro offers is the speed of iteration. “A big part of game design is learning and making iterations,” Soph said. “Having a platform as easy as Miro saves us a huge amount of time.”

Getting Cozy on shelves

The next step for Cozy Juicy Real is to take their game to Kickstarter and try to raise funds to bring it into production. Jed says, “Our goal is to create a million meaningful conversations. Having a positive impact at that level is something that we’re both really excited about.”

You can join a Cozy Juicy Real event, follow their progress, and sign up for updates about their game here:

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