Meh!n: Two Montreal entrepreneurs create the dating game from hell

Natasha Westgrove and Rose Goldman have turned the pratfalls of romance-hunting into a new card game.

Desperately seeking romance in the wonderful world of dating can be, well, desperate and anything but wonderful. Blind dates feel like Russian Roulette. Guys turn into stalkers after two dates. And then there are men who wear socks with sandals.

Montreal artists Natasha Westgrove and Rose Goldman know the scene only too well. Five years ago they found themselves single and quite taken aback at what the online dating services had to offer. “I had just ended a two-year relationship and I was pretty down about it,” says Westgrove. “We used to hang out and talk about men and dating, and Rose would draw sketches of the men we were seeing. We ended up laughing about a lot of the experiences we were having. It was very cathartic.”

Westgrove and Goldman began discussing the caricatures and drawings with people they knew, including some of their exes. “One of my ex-boyfriends, who I’m still good friends with, thought the drawings were funny,” recalls Westgrove. “He suggested we turn it into a game.”

A game was the furthest thing from these two single women’s minds, but they thought about it, and then they liked the idea.

What if their dating experiences were translated into a game format?

The result is Meh!n, an interactive card game (of between two and six players) in which contestants challenge other players to consider who they might actually go out on a date with. Players are presented cards with various “types,” one on each card, including “Walter, who gets tattoos in obscure places,” “Oliver the conspiracy theorist” and “John the fucked-up sick fuck.” Additional cards make the choices more difficult; if you’re eager for a date on a Saturday night, for example, would you put up with a conspiracy theorist if he happened to have a great body? The ultimate goal of players is to “avoid them all” and whoever ends up with the least number of cards wins the game.

Meh!n Montreal dating card game
Meh!n: Two Montreal entrepreneurs create the dating game from hell

It sure sounds like a bundle of bitterness, but the creators say it’s more complicated than that. “Yes, some of it comes from difficult experiences,” concedes Westgrove. “But consider that we were creating a lot of Meh!n during the revelations about Harvey Weinstein and the beginning of the #metoo movement, and during Trump’s term as U.S. President. It was not a great time for the profile of men.”

The cards are, in Goldman’s estimation, accurate. “Look, a lot of dating is harsh,” she says. “You end up with someone who’s stalker-like or sending wildly inappropriate pics. What we found is, talking about the experiences and laughing about how crazy they are is really helpful. The game does that.”

Meh!n launches this summer, and its creators have already conducted several test runs with friends. “What we found is that people find the game really fun, they laugh a lot,” reports Westgrove. “Someone will say to a friend, ‘Wait a sec! You said you wouldn’t date a guy like that, but you did!’ And then the person has to admit to it. It’s a great game to play with friends who know your dating history.”

Westgrove and Goldman stress they have not given up on dating. “A guy I was seeing actually stopped seeing me because of the game,” Goldman says. “I was telling him about it and I guess he didn’t like the idea.”

But many of their exes have found the idea really funny, and even welcomed their own profiles being parodied on cards. “The game is really meant to help people laugh about uncomfortable or weird experiences,” says Westgrove.

While Meh!n is clearly aimed at the single straight cisgendered demographic, Westgrove and Goldman say they could see developing a game specifically for straight men and another for LGBTQ singles.

“Dating can be lonely,” says Goldman. “We just want to make the experience of dating seem less so.” ■

For more on Meh!n, please visit the official website.

For more Montreal arts & life coverage, please visit the Arts & Life section.