The games I have mentioned are quite simplistic but I am sure games with much more complex storylines can be created and I have seen some such off late in toy shops which could be just that. Of course one could argue about the relevance of these games with advent of computer games. However there is a charm to a physical game with coins and dice that one can touch and feel with players physically present rather than being located somewhere remotely. Maybe one day virtual reality will remedy the touch and feel aspect and give much better experience than the simple tokens and boards can provide and also have holographical projections of your remote fellow players. But such technology is still some time away. Till then board games will continue to hold sway.
To show the possibility a board can hold for a fantasy story, I must point out the example of one of my favorite movies of all time - Jumanji. In terms of game play, it is one of the simplest and most popular – one moves from square to square based on the dice throws. Squares may have some instructions which cause you to miss a turn, give an extra turn, move you few steps back or move you few steps forward and possibly other penalties and rewards. The whole Jumanji story is centered on the rewards and penalties turning out exotic and real. For instance, a square says stay in the game says ‘stay in the jungle till someone throws six’ and the hero is whisked away really to a jungle and has to be there till someone discovers the game many years later and throws a six. I really like the concept. The makers followed up with a sequel around the same concept – Zathura which was again a fun watch.
There are also quite some story themes based on the game of chess. The first Harry Potter book and Edgar Rice Boroughs Chess Men of Mars are stories that immediately come to my mind. I am sure there are many more. Of course not just board games – various other kinds of games are also used in different ways in stories. But board games I feel have a closer relation to stories than say something more like a sport like say carom board.
Though board games is not an area where I see as much scope for fantasy fiction, as is evident from my post, there is lot of synergy both in terms of using fantasy concepts to design board games and using a board game to plot a fantasy or science fiction story around.
Coming up next Tuesday - A new series