You and your friends walk into one of these cute Instagram-able cafes with either a bohemian or chic look and you can’t help but notice a shelf stacked with novels, comics and board games. Involuntarily your hand stretches out picking up that game of Monopoly, Scrabble, The Game of Life or even the ever classic Snakes and Ladder. All of a sudden you’ve travelled back in time to a hot summer weekend where a much younger you sits under the fan waiting for your turn to roll the dice.
Boardgames have clearly made an impact on your life and somehow is etched deep in your mind connecting you to the widest spectrum of memories. The first time it makes an entry in your life may funnily be via a story rather than having played it – at your grandmother’s house. You are sat down by your grandmother’s feet as she runs the comb down your hair, removing all the little knots before she starts to braid it. Though you whimper at the pulling of your hair you sit still waiting to be rewarded with stories and little treats and sweets. Amongst the many stories told is the story of Mahabharatha. You hear how Yudhishthira and the Pandavas lost their kingdom to Duryodhana and were exiled to live in a forest for 12 years only because they lost a very important game of dice, leading to your first encounter with boardgames.
The next thing you know, in those sweltering afternoons of your summer holidays or when your cousins come over on a weekend, you’re sitting down playing Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, playing cards, Carrom or even chess to show who the smartest is. On the very rare and precious occasions do you get the chance to play Pallankuzhi with the intricate wooden set and tamarind seeds or shells. You then win your first coupon to Odyssey from taking part in a quiz or some school competition. Here comes the next wave of games, you start to play thanks to that little coupon, the big Monopoly, The Game of Life, Clue and so on.
Fast forward a decade and suddenly after so long you stumble upon these games again while you’re grabbing a cup of coffee or simply on a date in one of the new age cafes. Then you come across places specifically catering only to games where they host over 300 odd games. Now the whole concept of board games have changed from a summertime or family time activity to something where enthusiasts meet every day just to sit down and try out a new game.
You notice that not only do you have your classics but now you have games that aren’t just plain luck-based. The range varies from co-operative games where you and your peers play together against the board – Pandemic being the most famous of them all, worker placement games where you place objects and pieces strategically to get the most points – Agricola, to social deduction games where you take on a secret identity and depending on whether you are good
or evil need to work with your party to win – Secret Hitler, Coup and so on. Yet again a gust of nostalgia hits you that the earliest social deduction game played by you was in school – Raja – Rani – Chor – Police.
You may not know this but board games are so ancient that they were created even before we had written language. One would think that these were created solely for entertainment but give it a second thought and you’ll realise how board games play a vital role in acting as a medium that connects people and brings them together even through its competitive nature. Think again and you’ll realise how our lives are not so different from these games we play in different stages of our lives because after all like Nerijus Stasiulis says, “Life, like all other games, becomes fun when you realize that it’s just a game.”