Enjoy a round of ‘Parang’ this Gawai season

­By Alvin Katek

Playing games was initially a very social affair; friends and family would gather around a table having fun playing board games together. Some would make arrangements to meet and play games to bond, socialize and to just have fun.

Unfortunately, in this age of modern electronics, games are readily available on phones and mobile devices, making it an increasingly solitary activity as most people end up staring at their device screens playing a game rather than playing a game with real people.

The people from Beast of Borneo want to try to change that…

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Beast of Borneo is a new games publishing company based in Sarawak. Their mission is to bring people together; help people connect with each other through social interaction by playing card games and board games while incorporating Sarawakian culture as a way for people to bond or learn more about our local cultures at the same time.

Beast of Borneo founder, Alex Jefferson, originally came to Sarawak to teach and found that he quickly grew fond of Sarawak because of its wealth of natural treasures and rich culture.

Growing up in the UK, he practically grew up playing board games and it was indeed a regular activity among family and friends there. Family and friends would sit around a board game or card game, laughing and having fun while interacting with each other during a game.

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Alex Jefferson

 

It was something that he loved and he found that it was something that was sadly not very common when he moved to Kuching and, with the advent of phones and other mobile devices, people are interacting less and less.

So one day he decided that he wanted that to change, and combined two things he loved when he founded Beast of Borneo, which aims to bring people together through fun and easy to learn games that celebrate the rich and diverse cultures and natural environments of Sarawak.

The first game to be published by Beast of Borneo is Parang. Parang is a unique and original card game that incorporates the local lore and mythology of the Dayak warrior.

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It is a card game with its own unique system and mechanics that is easy and simple enough to learn in minutes; yet its simplicity hides the rich complexity of strategy involved when playing.

The game also includes a fair bit of luck which prevents the game from being too predictable thus keeping the game entertaining in a way that keeps you wanting to playing for hours.

This was demonstrated when they had a pre-launch showcase in Chinahouse at the Old Courthouse in April where they invited the public to join them and play Parang.

The response was very good, as the sound of laughter and people having fun playing the game was enough to get people who were at the Chinahouse café to come and join in the fun. This was the first in a series of pre-launch activities for Parang before the official launch in May.

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Parang as a game does not just incorporate local culture and lore. Alex wants to keep everything done locally here in Sarawak. The game’s mechanics were made entirely from scratch by Beast of Borneo and they work closely with local companies on the graphic design, printing, and packaging through to the promotion of the entire game.

In doing so, Alex says it will help businesses locally while making the game have a very much more localised feel, not just in the design but also in the production process.

When asked about the future plans for Beast of Borneo after Parang, Alex replied that they already have another game in the pipeline and it will be a board game based on the Mulu caves. He says Beast of Borneo will be able to produce more games that people locally will be able to enjoy playing and people will be able to reconnect through their games. He also hopes that the games will be able to be one unique way to export or introduce the rich culture and environmental diversity that is Sarawak to the rest of the world. And perhaps even reintroduce it some of that love and appreciation to the locals.

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For more information about Parang and Beast of Borneo please visit http://beastofborneo.com/ or go to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/borneobeast/.

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