Game playing has long been a rich part of Indian culture and folklore, and this was the case even as far back as over two millennia ago. From snakes and ladders to casino games, there’s a long timeline of gaming in all its many guises in this major populous nation. This article will delve into the relationship that Indians have with gaming, and explore just what the roots of Indian gaming culture look like – both in the present day and also historically.

Board games

You may not know it, but some of the world’s most famous board games originated in India. Snakes and ladders, which has since been exported to the wider world as a popular board game and pastime for children and adults alike, dates back to the 2nd century BC and was originally known as Mokshapat by Hindu players. It’s astonishing to think that this humble game has since grown into a worldwide marketable item and a classic game at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner tables. 

Another board game that slips into a similar category is Ludo. Ludo is an anglicized name, however, and it was originally called pachisi. The square board is distinctive from Indian game culture and is still popular there and in other parts of the subcontinent, such as Pakistan. Gaming, then, clearly has deep roots in Indian culture – and likely will continue to do so for a long time to come. 

Newer games

It’s clear, however, that times have changed and that while games such as snakes and ladders continue to be played in India, they have now been augmented by more modern equivalents. Statistics show that the Indian market for video games has skyrocketed. It is now believed, for example, that the current value of the Indian online video game market rests at around $1.83bn. Significantly, this is higher than was previously expected when projections were first calculated. 

It’s also the case that some people in India like to play gambling games. There is demand to play Fruit Shot Megaways, for example, while casinos in some states offer well-known casino games. It’s worth noting, however, that gambling is not popular everywhere. It’s only permitted in a number of states in India, such as Daman and Goa – in the latter case, perhaps, to cater for the tourist market. This just goes to show that the presence of a game in one part of a culture doesn’t necessarily mean that the game is popular in every part of that culture.

Overall, it’s apparent to anyone who has spent time observing Indian culture that this is a country that values what gaming brings it. Older games such as snakes and ladders are still highly popular – but this is clearly a country with an adaptable culture, as the popularity of new pursuits such as online casino games shows. What will be interesting is where this evolving gaming culture goes to next.



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