Meet the Nigerian board game creator trying to change an industry

拉各斯, 奈及利亚 Kenechukwu Cornelius Ogbuagu has been obsessed with playing and building games his entire life.

作为一个孩子, he played board and card games including Snakes and Ladders, Whot, 和 鲁多 with the kids in his neighborhood in Enugu, southeastern Nigeria, where he was born and raised.
Yet in a country that loves games such as chess and Scrabbleeven fielding a world champion Scrabble teamOgbuagu noticed a lack of Nigerian-made games. 在 2013, he decided to create his own game while studying at the University of Calabar in southern Nigeria.
    There was a nationwide strike at government-owned universities in the country at the time, so nobody was going to class,” Ogbuagu, 现在 29, 说. With nothing to do, “最终, we started playing tabletop games.
      当时, he was not sure how to create games, so he used cardboard, stones, and dice from an old Ludo game to make a dice rolling and card drafting game for him and his friends.
        Many of Ogbuagu’s friends in school enjoyed playing the game, inspiring him to turn his passion into a profession.
        Created in 2017, "Homia&报价; is a memory and recognition game card game where players race to build their Nigerian home to win.

        Creating made-in-Nigeria games

          在 2016, a few years after making his first game, Ogbuagu founded a game production publishing company called NIBCARD, which focuses on tabletop games such as board and card games.
          I eventually learned to make games on YouTube,” 他说. “I learned how to make boards. I learned about direct imaging printers. I also found stores where I could get material to make the games I wanted.
          同年, he started an annual convention in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, called the Africa Boardgame Convention, 要么 “AbCon” — a gathering of tabletop game lovers from across the country, which Ogbuagu says is the first of its kind in West Africa.
          "Wan wan touch&报价; is a football-based board game. It was created in 2018.

          Many Nigerians hold stereotypes about board games. 他们说, ‘oh, it is a woman’s game.The convention exists to cancel those types of stereotypes,” Ogbuagu explains. 大致 500 people attend the convention every year, he adds.
          But his big break came in 2017 when charity organization Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) hired NIBCARD to create 2,300 copies of a game called Luku Lukufor an education project it was running in the country.
          Ogbuagu had been working with VSO as a volunteer when the group found out he was into games. “I met British colleagues who liked to play card games. I became inspired by their games and wanted to make something like that in Nigeria,” 他说.
          Since making Luku Luku for VSO, Ogbuagu says NIBCARD has created at least two dozen tabletop games for sale across the country and received grants from organizations including the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM).
          “随着 (IOM) 授予, we were supposed to, in an artistic way, create an activity that will create awareness on migration,” Ogbuagu says. To achieve this, he created a tile-placement game calledMy World Trip.
          "Gbosi,&报价; debuting in 2018, is a tile placement war game.

          The game has maps of different countries and the names and continent of the countries,” he explains. “As players are jumping from country to country trying to win the game, they are forced to learn new countries that they probably have never heard of.

          Nigeria’s tabletop gaming industry

          According to a report in Dicebreaker, a publication focused on tabletop games, 的 2020 Covid-19 lockdown period renewed interest in games and increased the sales of board games in places like the US and UK.
          同年, tabletop games successfully raised $ 236.6 百万 on Kickstarter, accounting for nearly a third of all the money made on the crowd-sourcing platform in 2020.
          But in Nigeria, there is hardly any data about the tabletop game industry. While games like chess, 鲁多, 和 Scrabble are popular, the local sector is still largely untapped.
          Ogbuagu says one of the reasons the industry is struggling is because there aren’t a lot of board and card games designed and produced in the country.
          Many Nigerians don’t have access to information about where to get games made in the country. There is also no access to tabletop games cafes and other value chains surrounding these games,” he explains.
          It is difficult for the average Nigerian to find information about games, he adds: “People will most likely know where to find Scrabble or chess than where to find their local, made-in-Nigeria games.

          A home-grown movement

          在 2019, as a way of increasing that awareness, Ogbuagu opened a cafe in Abuja.
          The cafe is just a space filled with games. People can come there to play,” 他说, 与 60 Nigerian-made board games and another 300 non-Nigerian games. “Not all the games there are made by NIBCARD,” he adds. “We stock games from other people too.
          "Hut Alive,&报价; created by Ogbuagu in 2017, is an elimination card game for up to six players.

          In the next couple of years, another goal is to get more people to appreciate and access locally made games, which starts with visibility.
            He says he is currently in talks with filmmakers from the country, encouraging them to swap games such as chess in their movies for Nigerian games like the ones NIBCARD produces.
            He’s also trying to reach the next generation of tabletop gamers, 与 “volunteers that take our games to different schools across the country,” Ogbuagu says. “They teach children to play these games so that as they are growing up, they know that we have our own Nigerian games.