For those of you who may not know, Brokenvase Games, and by extension, Pokémon Cards started out as a way for our founder Mervin Chiang and his son, Keon to bond and communicate beyond the realm of digital devices. Because, as the former business analyst puts it: “We speak the same language – Pokémon.”
In 2020, after just a year into playing the game and competing in tournaments, Mervin’s business instincts started to kick in, and he started to think about how he could run a Pokémon gaming centre as a viable business.
Incidentally, it was also around this time that he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which was a further driving factor for him to take a break from his senior executive role in a software implementation firm.
Hence, in late 2020, Mervin decided to take the plunge to run Brokenvase Games as a full-time business venture.
Currently, Brokenvase Games specialises mainly in Pokémon Cards. Mervin explains that as with the slogan “Connecting People”, it is important that the business is able to fulfil its objective of bonding together players from different walks of life.
"Pokémon, unlike many other card games, generally attracts a friendlier crowd, since the storyline is one that favours loyalty, fairness and compassion,” says Mervin.
Mervin says that in addition to the friendly-nature of the game, Pokémon Cards has also shown to be an inclusive game that manages to create a community that transcends across generations. “Pokémon is familiar to both adults who are in their 30s and early-40s as well as their children.”
Reaching Out to Kids with Autism and ADHD
Mervin says that when Brokenvase Games first started, they did not intend to use it as a platform to reach out to people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD.
“Rather, we just sort of fell into it. More and more players who were on the spectrum or diagnosed with ADHD had started coming to the store. It was then that we recognised that Pokémon Cards had real value in helping them manage their emotions and deal with anxiety in social situations.”
Additionally, as someone with both mild Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and ADHD, Mervin felt that he was able to relate to kids and adults going through the same conditions, and have a sense of what they were going through.
“I understand how emotional dysregulation works, and what they are going through. In one instance, I found that I was able to help a kid with ADHD regulate his emotions during a tournament, and at the same time explain to other neurotypical customers about what was going on.”
Indeed, more than just an outlet where the neurodiverse could feel comfortable in, Mervin feels that Brokenvase Games has also been able to play an important role in encouraging neurotypical participants to learn compassion, tolerance and patience.
ACE Club – A Protected Space
After receiving numerous requests to hold special sessions dedicated to neuro-diverse children and their families, ACE Club! was started at the beginning of May 2021.
Mervin says that even though Brokenvase Games had been lucky to have many patient and tolerant customers, he also recognised that it would be good to put in place proper processes and procedures to handle difficult situations.
Hence, in addition to having ACE Club!, special training was also conducted for staff to learn how to handle challenging situations.
Furthermore, to ensure a comfortable space, Brokenvase Games also began to raise awareness by opening up communication lines. “We talked to parents and support workers to better understand the needs of the individual, and explained when and how would be the best time to engage with them.”
Even though Brokenvase’s outreach initiatives are still relatively new, Mervin shares that they have already observed encouraging progress being made.
“For example, there was one kid who when he first came into the store. He was so socially awkward that he could only stare at the cards we have on display. By week eight, however, he was confidently entering beginner’s tournaments and also playing with the other trainers. His mum was so happy with his growth and progress,” says Mervin.
“ACE Club! has provided a platform for kids on the spectrum to meet like-minded people that understand what they are going though.” – Tammy Summers
Parents too have been noticing the positive impact that Brokenvase Games and Pokémon Cards have had on their kids. For Tammy Summers, whose son suffers from OCD and ASD, she says that Pokémon Cards has been able to act as a sort of calming mechanism for her son.
Another mum, Charlotte Fitzgerald, adds that Brokenvase Games has also helped her son in the area of social skills development. “The weekly competitions have provided an inclusive place for my son and others to socialise by enjoying the game, practising winning and losing, and congratulating everyone at the end of the day.”
She adds that as a parent: “It’s also a chance to meet other parents of neurodiverse kids.”
“Our Brokenvase experience has been great and I'm often recommending it to others. We particularly liked the way everyone is quickly taught how to play Pokémon, the different levels of competition so you feel comfortable starting out, the loan decks so you can play even while still learning how to build a deck, and the way the staff members engage with children respecting and sharing their special interests.” – Charlotte Fitzgerald
Edit: We have decided to pause ACE Club! for now to repair for a stronger and better supported re-launch. For the latest updates, do visit and follow Brokenvase Game’s Facebook page.
Learn-to-Play for Free!
In addition to ACE Club!, another initiative that Brokenvase Games has for those suffering from ASD/ADHD, is a free “learn-to-play and deck rental” programme. Through these sessions, individuals with ASD/ADHD, their families and support workers are encouraged to come in anytime to learn from trainers on how to play the game.