By Rebati Adhikari
We all have childhood memories of playing board games like Ludo or Snakes & Ladders. Now we have a board game developed entirely in Nepal called Samrajya by Manish Shrestha and Kreeti Shakya in June 2016. In the game, players move around Kritipur, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur to lay claim on their kingdom. The game is developed on a theme of King Prithivi Narayan Shah conquering the valley, but some fictional elements have been added to it.
The Incubation Period
Manish and Kreeti are board game enthusiasts. With the aim of creating something particularly for kids, the husband and wife duo started toying with ideas. During a brainstorming session, they conceptualized a game which would have a path that would reach an end. “Besides Ludo and Snakes & Ladders, Nepal doesn’t have a board game culture. We wanted to make it easier for people to grasp the concept of a board game making it only a little more advanced than Ludo or Snakes & Ladders,” shares Shakya.
As the duo got into developing the game, they started fact checking. They rummaged through history books to know the exact routes that Prithvi Narayan Shah had followed. But due to lack of reliable information, they decided to fictionalise it. Pritihivi Narayan Shah, the unifier of Nepal, had first conquered Kritipur, then Kathmandu and Patan, followed by Bhaktapur, so the route is placed the same way and cities are placed likewise.
Before introducing the final product into the market, they tested the game on friends and families. It took them 6-7 months to have different iterations of the game. Initially, the game was three hours long which went against the grain of board games. So they made changes.
After the first edition
The game developers received a host of feedback on the first edition. Taking suggestions, they cut down the game in the second edition. They have come up with an extension to Samrajya which they have named ‘Bhatti’—a drinking game particularly targeted for adults. In the second edition, they also came up with a guide to the Samrajya vocabulary, targeted specially for foreigners.
This board game is not only about rolling dice and moving things around, you can make it merrier. Samrajya is a social experience board game in the truest sense because people can have conversations on different aspects of the periods of history. Samrajya has historical elements to encourage conversations between generations. “When we attend social functions and in everyday life, we see kids fixated on their mobile phones. We are losing out on meaningful interaction and bonding. We wanted to create a solution to this and Samrajya is one perfect fit,” Shakya shares.
Board games are known to be a great tool for kids to learn social skills and exercise the brain. Kreeti and Manish wanted their board game to appeal to people of all ages bringing them together.
Made in Nepal
Every bit of Samrajya is made in Nepal. Shakya shares, “Being the first in the market is always harder. We knew that Nepal doesn’t have a board game culture and it would not be easy to sell it at Rs. 1200 in the initial phase. So we began by introducing it to people who were familiar with board games.” Samrajya was sold at the Farmers Market at Le Sherpa, a few shops in Durbar Marg to begin with. Today it is available at Sastodeal, Local Project, Timro Concept, and they are still trying to collaborate with more partners to reach a larger audience. “The first edition of 200, as anticipated, was a little harder to sell out. The second edition of 500 took only six months to find homes. We want everyone to own it. We are swimming against the current paving the way for others who want to venture into the business of board games,” concludes Shakya.