The Revival of Board Games in Lockdown
“Whichever team wins gets to do no housework all day.”
NEW DELHI: Govind, a 70 year old businessman in New Delhi, has had his life changed by the lockdown in more ways than one. “I have never spent this much time with my family. Every day I play cards and Ludo with my grandchildren,” he said.
Covid-19 has brought people’s fast paced lives to a halt. And for many like Govind, central to this slower, home-bound post-pandemic life is time spent with family - playing a boardgame to while away the long hours. Classics like Ludo and Carrom are being pulled out from forgotten drawers. For some, it has been a trip down nostalgia lane. As people were homebound, board games became the perfect ‘go-to' to spend leisure time with family.
“Board games have become a part of my routine now. My stress and anxiety reduce when I play with my family. It is helping me and my parents to relive our childhood days,” added Drishti, a Law student.
Board games are a mix of arguments, fights, and fun. From fighting over the red queen in a game of Carrom to flipping the Ludo board when losing. The games have provided families with hours of laughs. Board games made it easier to pass the time in lockdown. Although, most of these games today have their online versions available, the lockdown has brought back their physical existence.
While art student, Adhya finds board games to be a “way of relaxing," 45-year-old homemaker Ranu considers them the best way to spend quality time with her children. She feels that board games develop curiosity.
"I enjoy playing with my 8-year-old child. When I go to work, I do not have much time. But because of this lockdown I am able to teach my child the games I used to play in my childhood and also play with him," said Nishant, a 35-year-old working in an IT company.
The sale of board games has increased manifold in this lockdown period. According to the Economic Times, “Big Bazar, Snapdeal and Paytm Mall said that they recorded highest-ever sales of board games after the government allowed the sale of non-essential items in certain markets earlier this month.”
“With more red zones turning orange and green, the demand is set to rise further,” said Paytm Mall senior vice president Srinivas Mothey. Big Bazar sold out its stock of board games in the 25-odd stores it is operating. It sold 20,000 units of ludo and another 3,000 units of carrom boards, executives said. Snapdeal said the surge in demand for board games started days before the lockdown, with sales tripling in the 10 days when the government announced nationwide lockdown.
The manufacturers and the retailers, however, were not able to meet the demand because production was affected due to the lockdown. There was a lack of manpower and raw materials.
Gupta Sales Corporation, a board game manufacturer in Delhi told The Citizen, “Demand was there but due to the lockdown, I was not able to supply. People would call for Ludo, Carrom, Chess, and Monopoly.”
“Family board games like Ludo, Carrom were the most demanded. I would receive a lot of inquiries daily,” added Piyush, the owner of Toy Fort, a retail store in Delhi.
The classics are lockdown favourites. Ayushi, a 25-year-old HR manager from Delhi said, “In the British monopoly, I always want to buy Trafalgar Square as I consider it to be lucky. My competitive spirit to defeat my siblings in the game keeps me going for hours.”
Mayank, an Amity University student said, "I am always fighting for the yellow side on the ludo board. First we spend the first half an hour just fighting over the rules of the game, then we fight over who starts. More than playing we argue sometimes. But it doesn't really matter because all the drama in the game makes us laugh. Also it's a rule that one of us leaves the game crying."
“One game of monopoly easily takes an hour. My mind is diverted from all the negativity and worries. Games are helping me sink through the difficult times,” added Samkit, a Delhi University student.
"My family loves playing scrabble. We split ourselves into three teams of two each, which sounds weird but we enjoy it this way. We spend hours making those bizarre words. Also whichever team wins gets to do no house work all day. Just because of this perk we dedicatedly play this game," said Aastha, a fashion designer in Delhi.
For many of the younger generation - glued to mobile phones and apps - the lockdown was their first introduction to physical board games. Pictionary, Scrabble, Puzzles which were on the verge of being thrown out of the house, now hold a special place in family relationships.
"Pictionary is one game that I love. The drawings everybody makes leaves us deciding which one we should get framed. My siblings are the biggest cheaters on earth when it comes to managing time. It's fun to leave our mobile phones and play with family," said Anisha, an 11th standard student.
In addition to board games, never-ending rounds of card games like court piece, rummy, and Uno have kept people engaged for hours on end.“I received a lot of demand for Uno and card sets, some even demanded strikers, carrom coins,” said Sumit Matta, a shop owner in Sadar Bazar, Delhi.
The retailers and the manufacturers claim that if labour was present, they would have done better. “The demand was more than the usual but there was no way we could meet it. We don’t have workers in Agra,” said Mohit, a board game manufacturer in Agra.
"The pandemic has brought families together. Adding to the variety of spending time on television, the internet, and reading books, board games have revived back in our lives. Boredom and negativity could have affected people but these classics have proved to be a saviour," said Manisha, a 35-year-old school teacher.
Sonakshi is an undergraduate student at Vivekananda Institute Of Professional Studies, New Delhi.