The board game culture is not very popular in Myanmar but ‘House Rules Board Games Café’ has been attracting many young people to their shop at Pearl Condo to spend their free time.
As Yangon fills up with branded restaurants, office shops and shopping malls, people find that there are few places to chill or relax from the stress of their day-to-day lives.
Among these few relaxing places, one new café which is worth spending time at to de-stress is House Rules Café which is gaining in popularity among local youths and adults alike.
“I had always wanted to open a café but opening a normal cafe was just not for me.
I decided to incorporate a theme into it and the theme was board games,” said Su Mon Win, co-owner of the café.
House Rules Café opened its doors back in May of 2016.
She added, “I love playing games myself – computer games, console games or board games – but I particularly like the concept of board games because it is a social kind of gaming that I believe is needed in Myanmar.”
Other board game cafés do exist around the world but they don’t allow their staff to play along with customers.
This can only be seen at House Rules Café.
“What I believe is special about House Rules is that we do our very best to make it a fun and friendly place. If we are not swamped, I encourage staff to join games when customers need an extra player or so,” she said.
Sometimes she introduces customers to each other so that even if they come alone, they can play along with a team.
“I’ve been to other similar cafés by myself and they’d just tell me it’s difficult to find games for a solo player. And when asking if they the staff could join, they weren’t allowed or wouldn’t want to join. Sometimes they would even teach the rules wrong or would just explain the basics and we would end up playing it wrong and not enjoy it,” she said, sharing her experiences at other board games cafés.
At House Rules, staff take time to learn as many games are possible so that customers won’t be wasting time reading the instructions.
“They can teach the customers how to play the games and make sure they are played correctly to enjoy the game fully,” she said.
“Some people are skeptical – I remember meeting someone who told me they had considered opening a similar café but decided against it because they didn’t think Myanmar people would have the mind for it,” she said. “I didn’t care.”
She knew the difficulties she would face but for her, the joy and fun she would see customers have outweighed the problems.
There are people who only thought only think of board games as child’s play and many people only know of Monopoly, Jenga and UNO. Opening the café gave her the opportunity to introduce a lot more interesting and fun games to the customers.
“However, you need to start with easier games and slowly move onto more intense games. Also, people associate the word “games” with gambling and we’ve had to explain that this is definitely not a gambling place and we absolutely do not allow gambling at our café,” she said.
Most of their customers are high school or university students, but locals of all ages regularly come through the doors – sometimes even families.
“I was nervous about how I would introduce this to the local market as it is a very new concept but it has been doing well,” Ma Su Mon Win said but we have been.
The top games at the cafe are Halli Galli, Exploding Kitten, Splendor and Catan. Customers love social party games especially the bluffing kind according to Ma Su Mon Win.
“These kinds of games are much easier to introduce than a worker placement game like Marco Polo.”
The price of playing games here is 2,500Ks per hour and there are regular promotions. Apart from the games, they offer basic espresso-based drinks, and fruit drinks.
The café intends to up the game by introducing game competition futures and they will let people know when it is all planned out and ready to be executed.
House Rules Café is located in Building C, Pearl Condo on Kabar Aye Pagoda Road. It is open daily from 1pm to 9pm.