Chennai’s first board game convention celebrates new Indian games


children playing in conference

Children playing in the conference. Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

We are in the backwaters of Alappuzha, Kerala, sailing through a carefully marked and beautifully painted race course in boats made of cardboard. Vallamkali, a light strategy board game inspired by Kerala's famous boat races, captivates us – a group of five. As the race begins, we bid and chant loudly, holding our breath. We were later told it was the tallest table there.

Other board games are spread out on nearby tables, most of them made by Indian companies, each with a distinctive design, inviting players eager to enter TTOX Chennai, the city's first board game convention. Here, you will find games that follow the local spirits of Ladakh; Apart from the architecture and design of the Taj Mahal, or the battles fought, the business strategy of a tea shop with a constant flow of customers is what made history as we know it today.

An effort to bring together the already thriving community of Chennai boardgamers, publishers and designers, the event saw the attendance of around 400 gamers, designers and enthusiasts. “The fact that there are more than 10 board game cafes in Chennai is a testament to the strength of the community here,” says Phalgun Polepalli of Bengaluru-based Mosaic Games.

Designers and creators test their new games

Designers and creators test their new games. Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In addition to the playtest table (categorized into light-medium games and medium-heavy games), where anyone could try out any game, even if it required hours of continuous gameplay, there was a library containing 700 games, mostly donated by volunteers and cafes. There was a game shop, and a table entirely dedicated to Dungeons & Dragons. “D&D is a favorite among Gen-Z and Gen-Alpha because they watch similar shows stranger things, The dungeon master, Arvind Sundar, one of the best in the country, has completed three seasons!” Falgun says.

“This is a catalyst and will drive a culture where people are free to choose and engage in any sport without any rush.”

Fifty percent of the participating crowd was from outside Chennai, coming from Lucknow, Chandigarh, Kanpur and Bengaluru to experience the conference. Eager participants, Falgun says, flocked after hours to games like Ankh: Gods of Ancient Egypt (where you can play as an ancient Egyptian god) and Chai Garam (where you can become the owner of a topiary in the middle of the fair). Played.

Chennai as a market is growing rapidly, which is why conferences of this scale play a major role. The number of board game cafes in the city and their growing collection often produce only players, not buyers.

The game library contained approximately 700 games donated by volunteers and the café.

The game library contained approximately 700 games donated by volunteers and the café Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Girin Nayak of Chennai-based two-year-old Exotoxo Games says, “I have been testing the Masala Lab game based on author Krish Ashok’s book here and the response has been good. People often pay attention to food and heritage. For a beginner, the novelty lies in seeing familiar themes, and for the experienced player, it lies in how well the themes are integrated into the gameplay.

The biggest learning from the event, says Phalgun, was how supportive Chennai's boardgame café ecosystem is. They were not only receptive, but also very cooperative and helpful. “This is truly a community driven by a passionate love of sports.”

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