When Nigerian ICS volunteer Kenechukwu 'KC' Ogbuagu, 25, started West Africa’s first board game convention back in 2016, he knew he was onto something big. Two years and his first crowdfunded event later and he’s set himself a new target – to get kids interested in development.
KC spoke to ICS about why board games could hold the key.
I’d started solving word puzzles from the back of magazines when I was four years old.
I’ve always loved them. I’ve grown up around technology and while it’s improved a lot of things, it’s had such an impact on our social interactions. Board games have a magic way of closing that gap.
When you sit around a table with friends, loved ones or strangers, board games have the ability to look beyond gender, race, colour or class. It puts everyone on an equal ground. It’s beautiful.
Promoting African games to the masses
There are so few African games in the mainstream market. And it’s because people don’t know how to produce, publish and promote them – let alone play them.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populated country, but my friends would never believe there’s more than a million board games in the world. After all, they’ve only ever played eight different games.
I designed my first ever game out of boredom. I never realised it would mean anything significant to me. It was only after seeing the power of board games that I decided I wanted to create stories that can bring people together and promote learning.
Helping the rural areas join our global community
Last year, my company Nibcard produced our first games on global development: two on the girl child and the Sustainable Development Goals and four games on subjects from maths to geography.
We all want a world where there is no hunger and poverty. We all want peace, stability and unity. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can create that world. But first, we need to know what they are. I created a game, SDG 17 Steps, to help those in rural areas join our global community.
The reaction’s been fantastic. There’s been more studies recently about the positive effects of games in school and the value they can have on children’s learning. We’ve made it our mission to meet designers to give them the knowledge to produce and publish their own games.
West Africa’s first board game convention
2016 was pretty momentous for us as we organised West Africa’s first ever Board Game Convention. Last year we crowdfunded the event. This year we have plans for it to be bigger than ever before.
Events like this are so important in building a board game community and introducing new games to the Nigerian market. I saw strangers coming together and forming new relationships regardless of where they came from across our continent.
My goal is to create an active board gaming community in Nigeria and Africa that promotes publishing, production and promotion of games – as well as getting board games more recognised as a storytelling tool and a teaching aid.
And, you know, have some fun at the same time.