Board games have greatly increased in popularity due to the nationwide lockdown forcing people to remain indoors and practice physical distancing while outdoors, many board game enthusiasts and entrepreneurs have said.
Apart from classics like Ludo, Monopoly, Scrabble and Snakes and Ladders, several strategy games like Lords of Waterdeep, Settlers of Catan and Scythe, to name a few, have gained in popularity. Board games witnessed a sharp spike in sales, which professional board gamers believe is here to stay.
Mangesh Thombre, one of the co-founders of Pune Board Gamers (PBG), a community of board game lovers, said before the lockdown, they had regular board game meet-ups over the weekends. But now, board game enthusiasts can indulge in seven-day-long sessions of board gaming. “Before lockdown, we met for a couple of hours over the weekend or whenever most of the members were available for a game. Now, through digital means such as video conferencing or virtual forums like boardgamearena.com, yucata.de and STEAM, not only can we play any game while at home but also with players in other cities. With this, the community of board gamers has definitely increased manifold,” he said.
Board games have an advantage over video games, since they do not require a complex hardware set up or infrastructure to play, Thombre said. “Simple word games like Code Names, Scategories or Pictionary can easily be hosted over a video call and all family members can join in,” he said.
Nupur Kedia co-founder of Gamer Heads, a gaming community in Kolkata, and Ronak Chitalia, owner of Chai and Games Boardgame cafe, Mumbai, said board games have given people a new space to interact, have conversations and make memories, during the lockdown. “Being online was once a choice but with the pandemic, we all were forced online. Mentally stimulating games not only help one distract and de-stress, but also initiate socialisation and conversation,” said Chitalia.
“Soon after the Janata Curfew, we received requests for renting board games. While social gaming saw a slump, game nights became the new thing among close family and friends. Board games also help lessen screen time, especially for children,” said Kedia.
Board game designers and enthusiasts have also created new games based on the coronavirus crisis, such as ‘Social Distancing’ and ‘Guess Corona’. To facilitate this, Phalgun Polepalli, founder of Dice Toy Labs, a Bengaluru-based board-game studio, came up with the ‘Board Game Design Kit’ for ambitious board game designers. “The board game community is very connected and it just expanded with the lockdown. Many game designers had ideas but no resources and materials. That is when we came up with this basic game design kit so that they can give their games a proper shape and form. New games have been created during the lockdown like ‘Startup’, a game for entrepreneurs and ‘Indus’, a strategic board game based on the Indus Valley civilisation,” he said.
Moiz Mansur Bookwala, co-founder of Bored Game Company, an exclusive board game e-retailer in Pune, said there has been an upsurge in interest and purchase of board games. “We had an approximately 20 per cent increase on sales on our website. Our sales on other e-commerce websites was even more. People are actively looking for newer and fresher games.”