If your life was a movie, what song would you play in the background?
A fast paced techno montage? A jazzy love story? Perhaps a dreary ballad?
Regardless of the tune, music is intimately connected with the special moments in life, according to Joel Johnson, who’s set out to prove that with Mixtape, a board game that’s gaining local popularity.
“For me, music has always just been tied to emotions and parts of my life that I remember,” Johnson said. “Whether that be creating a playlist for a road trip, the song you listened to the first time you kissed a girl, or first time you got drunk at a concert. All of these things in my life have always had a soundtrack.”
“Vulnerability precedes inclusiveness. Ultimately, everyone wants to belong. They want to be a part of something.” – Joel Johnson
That personal correlation of music with memorable moments inspired Johnson to create Mixtape, which is one part card game, two parts music. It challenges players to find the “best” companion song to specific life scenarios, such as a date or road trip.
Johnson said that part of the idea for the game came from his history of long family road trips and his siblings would create games about music on their own while on road trips. His family often would fight over DJ duties, and debated which song was the perfect fight or love song.
It was those experiences that led to his belief that music helps people to open up, which ultimately fuels social connection, he said.
“Vulnerability precedes inclusiveness,” Johnson said. “Ultimately, everyone wants to belong. They want to be a part of something. … I think if you put yourself out there and you’re received then you feel like you belong. I think that’s something that everyone wants.”
Johnson hopes that Mixtape can break down interpersonal barriers. He recalled the first time that he got a group together to play the game, adding that there was one person there who didn’t know anybody else besides her significant other.
She spent the beginning of the night hiding in the bathroom trying to figure out how to leave due to how awkward she felt, he said. But by the end of the night, she was singing “Let it Go” from Frozen and felt like she belonged.
In a world of touch screens and apps, Johnson said it can be a struggle to pull people off their phones to play a card game. Although his short-term goal is to get everyone in Kansas City to know Mixtape by name, he said he is exploring how to turn the game into a mobile app.
“Music I think a lot of times bridges the gap between opinions we form by appearances.” – Joel Johnson
His dream is to create a Mixtape app that can connect with a music library like Spotify or Apple Music that will allow players to compete with anyone around the world. With an app, Mixtape could add elements of anonymity when voting for tracks. Johnson also has wider music sharing and data collection goals.
Johnson said that the most challenging part about has been getting his ideas for Mixtape in front of the right people.
“Creatives probably get it a little bit faster than most people,” Johnson said. “But once I have their attention and I explain how it works, the lightbulb goes on.”
Johnson said that the game is cross generational and hopes Mixtape can bring people together who may not have connected otherwise.
“Music I think a lot of times bridges the gap between opinions we form by appearances. You’d be surprised how often people from very different backgrounds will have similar tastes in music,” Johnson said. “The cool thing about Mixtape is that you can take this guy who looks like a Harley Davidson motorcycle rider and then a Leawood mom, and they may have music tastes that overlap and once they do then they’re already more tied together than they would be by just looking at each other.”