New Delhi: In the next three months, a rather unique board game will hit the stores.
For starters, it’s a locally developed game, a rarity in a business where international games such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Risk or Scotland Yard, largely owned by global companies such as Hasbro Inc. and Mattel Inc., rule the roost.
Then, it’s developed by a lawyer.
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The game is the brainchild of Pravin Anand, one of India’s best-known IPR lawyers. It took him two years to develop the game—and in these two years, Anand has had a busy day job.
The result, Anaryst, is probably the world’s first board game on IPR, and Anand is in talks with Noida-based Frank Educational Aids Pvt. Ltd to market it. Anand has also given away around 200 sets of Anaryst to schools, law firms, and friends to gauge their reaction to the game that he first unveiled last year at a function presided over by science minister Kapil Sibal, himself a well-known lawyer.
Anand’s motive in developing Anaryst is to acquaint young people—the game is essentially meant for anyone over the age of 12, although even younger children can play it—with the concept of IP and IPR, something that he hopes will encourage some of them to opt for a career in IP.
That’s a possibility, although not everyone who loves Monopoly ends up being Donald Trump.
Anand expects the board game to sell for around Rs500. Monopoly costs around Rs999 here. Manish Govil, director, product development at Frank Educational Aids, says that while it is difficult to predict the demand for the game in numbers before its formal launch in the market, he is positive it will receive a “positive reception”.
“The game is a new concept dealing with a current issue (IP). I’m sure children and adults would be interested in it,” Govil says.
‘Roll and move’ format
Uday Athavankar, a professor at the Industrial Design Centre in Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, which specializes in creating and conceptualizing board games, too, believes Anaryst is “a new concept”.
And Sanjay Subrahmanyan, an avid board game enthusiast who blogs on board games, also says Anaryst is the first of its kind to be created in India.
The game, which follows a “roll and move” format, can be played by two-four players.
The rules are simple. Players start by choosing one industry, represented by a pictographic card, out of four options—automobile, pharmaceutical, food and beverages, and information technology—depicted by a car, a drug, a drink and a computer system.
Legal game: Lawyer Pravin Anand plays Anaryst with his family. Anand expects the board game to sell for around Rs500. Madhu Kapparath / Mint
Each product has a portfolio of 15 unique intellectual properties associated with it marked on the cards. For instance, in the auto industry there are 15 properties associated with a car such as a patent in the “improved axle”, copyright in the light controlling software and trademark in the brand name.
Each player is given 5,000 A,nas, the currency of the game and acronym for Anand and Anand. The goal is to complete acquiring all the 15 intellectual properties of the chosen industry.
Tresspassers on other players’ squares, that represent factories, have to pay a fine or go to court and pay damages or go to jail. Players can also acquire IP of other players’ industries, become “trolls” and trade them later. The goal is to complete the industry portfolio without going bankrupt.
Stirring interest early
Anand says he has taken the game to students of New Delhi’s Salwan Public School to allow students to try it, and received an encouraging response.
“The school is planning to have inter-school Anaryst competitions. Children learnt that IP is not as complicated as performing a brain surgery. They will learn through the game that in a monogram they create, a recipe or an essay they write, IP is in everything,” the lawyer says.
“Children need to understand these concepts with subtlety early enough to be interested in it. Those students may now want to look at IP as a career. ”
Aparna Keswani, 17, was one of the students at the school who played the game with her friends. The game is now available in her school library. She says it definitely “stirred an interest” in IP among her classmates. “I wasn’t aware of what IPR means. In websites I often saw ‘Copyright 2009’ written at the end of the pages. It (the game) explained what trademark, patents, copyrights and designs mean and how it can be used in different industries,” she says.
Marketing Anaryst won’t be easy, says Subrahmanyan. “The problem with the board game industry is that some makers like Funskool dominate the market as they have rights like Scrabble and Monopoly that have been popular for over 40 years,” he says.
“Unfortunately, there is no board gaming culture in India, like in countries like Germany,” he adds. “Here, there are only cards and gambling.”
Anand is not worried because he is not interested in the business aspect as much as in cultivating his hobby and “spreading the message of intellectual property”.
“Even at the inauguration I had mentioned that it is an open source game, anyone can pick up the idea and work on it,” he says.
The lawyer now plans to develop an online version and make it available on a website so it can become more accessible and reach out to a larger audience.