Modern Indian board games are making learning fun

by Phalgun Polepalli

Can you name a cool board game you played recently ?

You’re probably thinking, snakes and ladders, ludo and chess. Although the new board games on the block are no “queen's gambit”, they have come a long way.

India is catching up with the world but we are around 10-15 years behind other countries in adoption of board games.

If you look at the classic board games that are available today in India (I’m referring to Monopoly, LIFE, Ludo, Snakes and Ladders etc,), they are mostly luck based games.

Meaning that the player has no control over the input or outcomes in their turn with minimal opportunity for strategy. You might be thinking how about Chess, Scrabble, Carrom Board? These games are still epic today and will be forever.

This is where modern board games make a difference. Tons of player agency (control over actions, outcomes), asymmetric setup, resource management, area control, etc which ensures a different game every time and tons of opportunity to strategize and most importantly, the themes and stories are so beautiful.

Indian Board Games

Modern board games like Settlers of Catan, Splendor, Ticket to Ride, 7 Wonders have sold millions of copies worldwide.

You’ll also notice one interesting aspect in modern games - designers, artists who contributed to the creation of the game, are credited on the boxes. This isn't the case with classic games, no one knows the designer who made the games like Chess, Ludo, etc.

The dream of making great board games

Around 3 years ago, we walked into a board games cafe to playtest our first edition of Yudhbhoomi, an Indian game of war. What we saw there was amazing.

There were 30+ tables with 2-4 people occupying each table. These tables had a beautiful spread of unique board games, each one of them telling a different story from across the world.

Some players were trading gems while others were trading modern art pieces, some were building gizmos while others were building kingdoms. More than 150 people, completely disconnected from the digital world, bonding over board games.

This scene is imprinted in my brain, forever. One of my goals was to create something that would one day be on those tables.

Modern indian board games

Putting Indian board games on the world map

Majority of the board games are based on western cultures, civilisations, history & stories, while only a handful are based on relatable Indian Themes.

We are on a mission to make board games in India, for the world. Some of our games like Indus 2500 BCE, Yudhbhoomi and Chariots of Chandragupta have become very popular in India and the world.

Sounds exciting right? But

Are board games useful?

This is a question I get asked very frequently. Either people have never played board games or want a scientific explanation backed by facts to prove the point, that playing board games is useful.

Let’s look at it from a different perspective.

In all the skills that a human can delegate to a computer, there are just a handful of skills that are still the USP of a human, meaning no computer (as of now) can simulate. These skills are creativity, imagination and problem solving skills. Analytical skills, relations, trends etc can be built into a computer software.

Psychologists have always recommended playing board games because it increases brain function. Playing stimulates brain areas that are responsible for memory formation and complex thought processes for all ages. Engaging in play, assists in practicing essential cognitive skills, such as decision making, higher level strategic thinking, and problem solving.

In this time, where people are spending a lot more time in front of the screen - work, studies, entertainment & gaming. Many are now craving for offscreen engagement.

Board games are the perfect solution, as they create an opportunity for people to bond, laugh, create memories, and in general have a great time!

Now, some of you are wondering how are board games different from books?

The stories in a book are structured in a way that they have an initial setup, the body of the story and a climax. However gripping the story might be, the fact is it’s static. Meaning no matter how many times you read it the ending won’t change.

Now what if we could transport the reader into the story, make the reader the main character, move around a maze of outcomes and then the story ends when the player wins. Voila! Board Games!

The beauty of board games is that they are age-neutral and most importantly gender-neutral.

Nowadays, there’s a board game for any occasion, theme, era, etc. You can always visit boardgamegeek.com and find a game to suit your taste.

Board games have a long shelf life with a high engagement value and makes for a perfect gift for any occasion.

The author Phalgun Polepalli, is excited about the future of board games in India and around the world. He is the co-founder of dicetoylabs, a company creating engaging and educational modern board games in India.