The Board Game Scene in Indonesia and Indonesian Games at Spiel 2019

When I went to Spiel in 2017, one of my first stops was the Indonesian booth in the far back.  I say “the Indonesian booth” because, as with some other countries, rather than a specific publisher having a booth, an umbrella gaming organization from the country has the booth, with multiple publishers represented.  I first became aware of the Indonesian industry with the titles Mahardika and The Festivals –but outside of one demo at Spiel, I still haven’t played any! The market feels one superstar game shy of breaking out.

A few weeks ago Vicky Zulfikar Belladino from boardgame.id reached out to the Opinionated Gamers about some of the games they would have at Spiel 2019 and we thought it was an excellent opportunity to interview him about the industry in Indonesia.  (The photos and captions below were provided and written by Vicky.)

-James Nathan

Can you give us a sense of the role card games and board games have played in the culture? Is it a common activity for families while children are young? What games are traditionally played?

Board and Card games are pretty common for Indonesian, although most of us know only several classic titles like Monopoly, Snake & Ladders, Uno and Dominoes. It typically played with friends, in a casual-relaxing manner. Most of our cafes also provide this kind of games to enjoy your coffee with. So its pretty safe to say that Boardgames are pretty common here, although if we talk about modern boardgames, we still have a long way to catch up.

How has the industry grown in recent years?  Have crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo played a role?  Board game cafes? Board game shops? Are international games commonly found?

Modern boardgames are introduced in Indonesia by a small community called Indoboardgames. But it never went mainstream before a boardgame design competition called Board Game Challenge (BGC) was held in 2015. Most of its participants either become designer, publisher, or influencer now. Dozens of new boardgame cafe was opened in the last two years and we are consistently producing 16-17 new local titles every year. There are two main boardgame distributor that distributes newest international hotness. So, yeah. Modern boardgames are starting to become mainstream in Indonesia.

One of the busiest boardgame cafe in Surabaya, Tabletoys. They also have publishing division

Very few of Indonesians use Kickstarter or Indiegogo to introduce new games. The most notable person to do that was Jack Darwid, known from the titles such as Roar-a-saurus and Adventure of D. We also have our local crowdfunding platform, which also generates some local title. But up to now, i don’t think crowdfunding was the preferred method for most of our publishers.

What are the notable local conventions and what are they like?

There are two existing boardgame-specific conventions, Surabaya Board Game Market and Jakarta Tabletop Expo. They both held at the end of year. There are also an event called BEKRAF Game Prime, a mixed event that accomodate both digital and tabletop games. Unlike the big convention like Spiel or Gen Con where hobby gamers come to try and buy new hotness, our local conventions are designed to introduced more people to the hobby. So beside the new games launch, there are several event such as boardgame design competition, tabletop tournament or awarding ceremony.

2018 edition of BEKRAF GamePrime

We also happy to announce that we are in preparation to host the 1st Indonesia International Boardgame Festival (official fest name will be announce later) that will held some time next year. 

How did boardgame.id form?

Eko Nugroho, CEO of Kummara group is the man behind the board game Challenge (BGC) 2015 and Indonesia Boardgame Association (APIBGI). Some people also named him as the father of Boardgame in Indonesia. After the event (that eventually become the most important milestone of Indonesia board game industry), He understand that we need a media support to educate the market and to make sure that the Industry keep growing. Therefore Eko together with Isa M. Akbar (our Editor in Chief) initiated boardgame.id as the 1st board game/table top news media in Indonesia. Our mission is to educate Indonesia and international market about the importance of Indonesian board game. It sounds naive, but we truly believe that Indonesia board game Industry soon will play a significant role in the board game world. 

Earlier this year boardgame.id also establish a special division to take a role as distributor for Indonesian board game. We have opened the 1st Indonesian Board Game Gallery (both offline and online) in the city of Bandung several months ago. In coming months we plan to open several satellite galleries (in collaboration with campus, school, and communities) at several cities in Indonesia. Other than Gallery, we also have Playspace, a training and event space dedicated for community. We also host and organized several events regularly:  Playtime and prototype day. Play time is a special event dedicated for Public, where they can try and play boardgame together. Prototype day is a special event dedicated for our local game Designer, to develop their ideas, get support, and conduct play test.

One of our monthly playtime. Most of the participants are new to boardgames

Along the way, Boardgame.id not only become the 1st boardgame media in Indonesia, we also become a hub that connects communities, game designers, publishers, parents, families, schools, and teachers. With the establishment of our new distribution division, the gallery and playspace, we are looking forward to  become an integrated platform to introduce, promote, and distribute our board game Indonesia to national and international market.  

How is the Indonesian scene organized? What are the roles of APIBGI (Asosiasi Pegiat Industri Board Gim Indonesia), BEKRAF (Badan Ekonomi Kratif), Archipelageek, and boardgame.id?

APIBGI is an umbrella association for our local boardgame industry. It was established on 2017. Its membership ranged from boardgame designer, publisher, influencer, distributor, up to the retailer. It was made to further improve the overall industry. Our annual participation in Essen Spiel is one of their programs.

BEKRAF is Indonesian government agency whose job is managing our creative industries. As Tabletop are considered one of them, they are organized under BEKRAF. It provides support for APIBGI and our overall industry stakeholder. One of their programs is called Archipelageek, which focused on the introduction of local games (both digital and tabletop) to international audiences.

Lastly,  Boardgame.id like i told earlier is the biggest media in Indonesia for tabletop-related content, the most influential hub, and an integrated distribution platform for Indonesian boardgames.  

Are there requirements for designers or publishers to have their games included at the Spiel booth?  How does that process work?

Yes. Our association (APIBGI) and BEKRAF are conducting the curation process every year. Several months before the fair, they open the online submission for local titles that want to be brought to SPIEL. All online submissions are then screened by the independent curator from the industry. After that, we asked the finalists to pitch and demoing their games in front of the curator. They then decide which games to bring and which games are acting as champions. The champions will be given special treatment as they are essentially the best of the submission. As most of our publishers are small in size, this curation is the best way to make sure their games are presented in the Spiel.

The curation process from 2018’s Essen Spiel Open Call

I love the cross promotion last year where Hompimpa Games helped with a board game that was printed on the to go boxes from Markobar, in an effort to give the box a second purpose and make it less disposable.  How did that come about? Can we expect further endeavors like that?

That’s one of Hompimpa Games’ B2B services, providing gaming experience in consumers product. I asked the CEO earlier and he said he wanted to give more purpose for disposable food boxes. They then comes with an idea to add simple board game to the box so that in addition to the actual food, customers can enjoy playing board games and have some interaction while eating. In addition to providing excitement, it also became a medium for Markobar’s customer engagement, so it’s a win-win. Currently they are also exploring the same method with an airline in Indonesia, and also with a beverage packaging company. They tried to apply some gaming concept to the products and its media campaign.

Not only Hompimpa, company like Kummara also have an ongoing discussion with one of major recycle paper producers about the possibility of conducting a collaboration program. They are looking for a possibility to use board games to motivate public awareness about the environment and at the same time to motivate our board game creator/publisher to produce more environmentally friendly board game.

What are the current “hot” games in Indonesia? How do domestic game designs compete alongside international titles?

From the community point of view, most hot titles and recent kickstarter deliveries are also being hotness here. Right now, Tapestry has topped the list. Local designs are also well-received in the market. We have our family favorites like Waroong Wars, The Festivals and Kakak Teladan. Recently, Our designers also come up with slightly heavier – euro-ish titles like Korowai and Nusa Rasa. If anyone is interested to try, they can come to our booth in SPIEL this year.

I also designed games that happened to be one of the favourite, Kakak Teladan #shamelessplug

Interestingly, what’s hot from family point of view is a board game that can bring impact. Many student and families are looking for boardgame that can help them study things. To raise an awareness of aquatic environment, we have Aquatico. To help young children with math, we have Math Cat. In Indonesia, titles that bring positive impact attracts school and family.

Let’s talk about Spiel.  What is your booth number and can you give us an idea of the games that will be available for sale or demo?

In Spiel 2019, we will have a booth in Hall 3 Booth Q106. Unlike last year, this time we won’t brings many copies to sell. Most of the games that we bring are for demo purposes as our priority is to bridge partnerships with international publishers. We have a lot of family-friendly titles, from unique word games like Cine: Write & Trade and War of the Words until set collection games like Unmask!.

If you like a euro, i suggest you try Nusa Rasa (worker placement games about running an Indonesian Restaurant), Korowai (a push-your-luck game about native Indonesian tribes surviving in Papuan forest), Coffee Crash (Resource Management game about being a barista), or Toraja (Flip & Write game about building your own Coffee Plantation).

Nusa Rasa is probably the heaviest euro we have this year (its more like med-heavy though)

If you are a fan of party games, Cenayang, a game where you are guessing your friend’s personal things will guarantee you a good time. We also have an abstract microgame in a form of SEN: Save The Queen. These are all great titles.

What have I forgotten to ask about?

As soon as we have fixed titles to showcase, we will add it to BGG database. We are inviting publishers or reviewers that is interested in unique Indonesian boardgames. They can contact me at vicky@boardgame.id if they want to book a meeting or demo slot in our booth. Our SPIEL team can help you with anything related to Indonesian boardgame landscape.

We are also proud to announce that one of boardgame.id founder, Eko will join as one of international panelists in one of SPIEL panel session entitled: How Boardgame Change The World. Eko will share some of his work that relevant with the topic. If any of you have time you should really sit down and have a coffee with him to get fresh perspective and insight about board game Industry in Indonesia.

[JN: Vicky has provided this catalog (PDF) of the titles that will be featured if you want to read a little more in depth, see photos, etc. ]

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7 Responses to The Board Game Scene in Indonesia and Indonesian Games at Spiel 2019

  1. Rachel Gay says:

    This is a fantastic article! Thank you so much for publishing this interview, we have a really narrow window here in Australia into games development and culture in other countries. It was a revelation to me when I discovered that Indonesia has a board game competition equivalent to SdJ. Some interesting games here for me to follow up… Thanks :D

  2. Pingback: The Board Game Scene in Indonesia and Indonesian Games at Spiel 2019 – Herman Watts

  3. vagansza says:

    Thank you for pointed out Boardgame.id into the questions. Feel free to contact Boardgame.id via Facebook or Instagram. We will participate in Essen SPIEL 2019, please say hi whenever you met a person who wears a red polo shirt with Boardgame.id printed on it.

  4. Joachim Boaz says:

    Yeah, this is a downright fantastic article! I love the photos, the board game cafe is lovely…. I want to know more about the individual games!

  5. ClarkPleat says:

    none

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