Board games and card games are good for Asia

Many of us older folks who grew up with games in the US or Europe remember discovering games not as electronic experiences but as board, card or pen-and-pencil adventures. Before we had computers, we played the old dungeon and dragons role-playing games or massive and complex board games from Avalon Hill or SPI.

In Asia, many gamers here also grew up with more traditional board and card games like Weiqi (Go) and Mahjong. However, their real entry into the culture of gaming came in through playing games like StartCraft, Counter-strike or various MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or even Lineage. They skipped through the developmental period of hobbyist board games and pen-and-paper role playing games that many game designers in the West felt were essential for creating open ended worlds and crafting great experiences for gamers.

The good news is that offline board games and even pen-and-paper role playing games are growing in popularity in China. Both Magic and Sanguosha have many players in China. Board games have been localized from Germany and the US and translated into Chinese. Better yet, there is a growing body of players of offline RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder emerging in China.


Last month in October, Beijing saw its second Khan Kon held in Shunyi. Khan Kon is a gaming convention for board and role playing enthusiasts who get together to play games non-stop for two days straight. Organizer Dan Bass relates that this year’s attendance was much larger than last year:

We held last year’s event in a far mountain resort 2 hours from the city. This year we saw almost 50 people show up; last year was 35. This year also saw a larger participation by local Chinese players with almost 40 percent representation, with the other 60 percent being foreigners and expats who love games.

Board and offline RPGs appeal to many gamers, even those who are in the video game industry, for a number of reasons:

  1. Social: A reason to meet friends (or make new ones) to relax and just have fun

  2. Strategic: These games are more about planning, thinking and problem solving as part of a group rather than twitch reflexes

  3. Theater: Elements of improv and storytelling

  4. Visceral: A chance to betray and crush your friends face to face (hopefully) temporarily

Asian games have in the past been criticized as being uncreative and derivative copies of other games. In China, many MMORPGs are based on either Journey to the West, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, or the Swordsman series of stories. Having more a more robust offline games scene could help to inspire video game designers to get creative and introduce new game and story elements, which would be a big plus for the Asian gaming industry. A new generation can now play and learn to develop games for the next generation…both online and offline.

The post Board games and card games are good for Asia appeared first on Games in Asia.

The post Board games and card games are good for Asia appeared first on Games in Asia.