Monday, 4 March 2013

Games People Play!

We have all played board games when we were kids. All of us still have some beautiful memories from those days, when we played those games for endless hours with our gang of friends. With time, however, we moved on to other forms of entertainment like playstation and those board games were left inside the closet, forgotten. Not everyone though moved on; a few grown up Mumbaikars are still crazy as hell about them. And two of them, Kumar Jhuremalani and Mihir Vora, have in fact created a platform for all board game lovers called ‘Board Game Bash’ (BGB).

The place for board game lovers
BGB is a meetup group for board game lovers founded by Kumar and Mihir. If names like Boggle, Taboo, Anomia, Funglish ring bells in your head or if you are someone who would love to play new board games then BGB is the place for you! There’s something for everyone at BGB, from simple fun light hearted games to the classics and also the strategic games for the serious gamers. Events are usually held on Wednesday evenings, providing a much welcome break from one’s work life. These events usually take place in cafes around the city or at the amphitheatre on Carter road.

The beginning
Kumar, professionally, is a digital marketing consultant specialising in social media, product management and photography. “I’m a geek; I think that should explain my love for board games!” he says. Mihir on the other hand works for the Government of India, “I am married and have a kid, who I have managed to hook onto board games,” he says.

Both Mihir and Kumar say that they were sort of bored with the usual scene in the city, which involved either clubbing, going to a lounge or a coffee shop. “There wasn’t any alternative or anything different to do in the city; that’s when we decided to start BGB back in 2009,” explains Kumar. “We decided to do something we all liked and meet outside in public and just do it,” adds Mihir. And so began BGB on a Wednesday evening with a facebook update and a few SMS being sent out. Around 10 people showed up that night. “It wasn’t even really planned; it was just a bunch of us meeting up on Carter Road to play a few games,” says Kumar.

They had never thought that BGB would grow to a large extent, the group has almost 1600 plus members on Facebook, but now that it has, they are doing all that is possible to grow it even further.

The events
At Board Games Bash the events are of three kinds, from basic games to the outright serious ones

Under The Stars: This was the event format with which BGB started out. “Over here, we bring just a handful of games and modify the rules to let everybody play them, while splitting them into two groups,” explains Mihir. The usual games are Taboo, Pictionary, Blurt and other simpler card games. This event is usually organized at the amphitheatre on Carter Road.

Board Games Bash: “It’s the usual fun, party and crazy event that happens the most,” says Kumar. This event involves around 20 to 30 games and is held at cafes around the city. “These games get quite crazy and people will be laughing or screaming hysterically all throughout the night,” adds Mihir.

Strategy Night BGB: This is for the lovers of intense strategy games. “We warn people in the event description that these games are not to be taken lightly and can last anywhere from 20 minutes to 6 hours!” says Kumar. However, they set cut-off times at 2 - 2 and half hours. “These games are meant for those who love challenges and love to solve problems,” says Mihir.

The Challenges
“Getting people to attend is the least of our problems,” says Kumar. In fact a lot of times they have run out of space for the attendants. The real challenge lies in notifying people about upcoming events, they have tried their hands at Facebook groups and pages, but they feel that both tools have a lot of limitations. “Now facebook requires us to ‘pay’ to get our fanbase notified about our event!” exclaims Mihir. Although BGB is present on Facebook and Twitter, their strongest marketing weapon is still word of mouth. “It’s like once you are hooked, you keep coming back for more!” says kumar.

There were also times when a few venues tried to copy the format. However, all such attempts proved rather unsuccessful.

The road ahead
“Everybody loves board games! People want to relive their childhood through these games and that’s just an awesome thing to do”, says Kumar when asked about his learnings from the journey so far. The duo says that the next step for BGB is to go beyond its fanbase and organize events for other like corporates. “We did a tie up with Phoenix Mills for last year’s No TV Day and would like to do more such events as well as take BGB to a corporate level,” they say.

If you too have been harbouring the love for board games for a long time not knowing how to express it, then now you know where to head. There is no membership fee, all you need to do is show up! So are you game? Just head over to Board Game Bash!

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