One game that appears so simple that many may not consider it an important sport is Ludo. It is one of the board games that anyone can play, irrespective of age, sex or status. Yet it comes with immense health benefits.
According to medical experts, one of the top health benefits of playing Ludo is the enhancement of brain function. A study specifically revealed that Ludo reduces risks of mental diseases by reducing the risk of cognitive declines, such as that associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a disease that first affects the part of the brain associated with learning. Early symptoms often include changes in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.
Mental illness is considered a common disorder in Nigeria. Indeed, President of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), Taiwo Obindo, who is also the chairman, Faculty of Psychiatry, West African College of Physicians, Nigeria Chapter, recently disclosed that over 60 million Nigerians are suffering from mental illness, while only about 10 per cent of the figure are able to access appropriate care. This makes it a necessity for everyone to be conscious of his or her mental health and playing Ludo will help in this regard.
Origins and strategy
Ludo is a strategic two to four players board game, involving four tokens for each player racing clockwise from start to finish, based on the roll of dice or sometimes die. Each player is assigned a home column, where they are safe from other tokens and players.
Ludo is derived from the Indian game Pachisi. The game and its variations are popular in many countries and under various names. It was also known as Chaupar in ancient times. The contemporary version was played by the Mughal emperors of India; a notable example is Akbar. Pachisi was modified to use a cubic die with a die cup and patented as “Ludo” in England in 1896. The Royal Navy took Ludo and converted it into the board game, Uckers.
In Ludo game, special areas of the board are typically coloured bright yellow, green, red, and blue. Each player is assigned a colour and has four tokens in their colour. The board is normally square with a cross-shaped play space, with each arm of the cross having three columns of squares, usually six per column. The middle columns usually have five squares coloured; these represent a player’s home column. A sixth coloured square not on the home column is a player’s starting square. At the centre of the board is a large finishing square, often composed of coloured triangles atop the players’ home columns.
Mental balance and relaxation
According to Ludo Skill, a Ludo Game resource centre, the game is enjoyable, fun, and interesting. More importantly, findings from a survey conducted by Harris Interactive, a worldwide market research and consulting firm, and focus groups hosted by best-selling author and women’s lifestyle expert, Jennifer Louden, revealed that casual games, including Ludo provide mental balance, stress relief and relaxation. Specifically, 53 per cent of the participant of the survey believed that playing game board, which Ludo was also part of it, can reduce stress.
A related research in 2021 revealed a similar finding. The study, titled, “Application of Ludo Board Game in Increasing the Activeness of the Physics Study Group of MTS DDI Seppange Students”, was carried out at the Physics Education Study Programme, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science, Alauddin Islamic State University Makassar, Indonesia. The study aimed to describe the activeness of the members of the physics science study group by implementing the Ludo Board Game and seeing the students’ responses to the application of the game in increasing the activity of the members of the physics science learning group.
To achieve the goal, descriptive research was carried out using the Ludo. The subjects of the study were students of the university (class VIII MTS DDI Seppange) in the 2019/2020 school year. Using observation, questionnaires, interview techniques and documentation, the results showed that there is an increase in the activity of the students’ study groups after the implementation of the Ludo Board Game. The study was also published in Jurnal Pendidikan Fisika, an open-access scientific journal of the Indonesian University.
Further, according to the scientific review of a team, led by Dr Michelle Heben, an internal medical specialist, University Hospital of the University of Michigan, USA, Ludo can keep the condition of the brain at its peak. The medical experts averred that keeping one’s mind engaged means one is exercising the brain and making it to be stronger – and a stronger brain has lower risks of losing its power.
Heben specifically said: “The game (Ludo) ‘ignites’ the brain part related to elaborate cognition and prolonged memory; encourages the important perceptive abilities, such as decision making and problem solving. Moreover, Ludo Game can also improve the performance of the brain’s neurological system which is responsible for stroke. Also, playing Ludo can help to lower blood pressure.”
Another vital health benefit of playing Ludo is that it strengthens the body immune system. Studies have actually established that the human body immune system is linked to one’s psychological condition and mental state.
Additionally, Dr Heben’s team also noted that Ludo aids children’s brain development. “Board game, such as Ludo, plays a very important role in child health and brain development. It helps children develop logic and reasoning skills, improves critical thinking and boosts spatial reasoning. Encouraging children to play different types of board games can also increase verbal and communication skills, while helping develop attention skills and the ability to concentrate and focus for longer periods of time”, the team submitted.
Aside from the health benefits of Ludo, it has also been established that the game helps to strengthen bonds among family members and friends. Sanjiv Mehta, a 57-year-old government employee in India affirmed this in an interview published by Forbes (India version) in August, 2022. He said: “During the lockdown, passing time, especially during afternoons, was proving to be incredibly difficult. Online Ludo was a blessing for my family and me. We would not even realise that we’ve spent hours playing the game.”
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has stated its commitment to further bring Ludo Game into limelight. The Director of Sports Development, Lagos State Sports Commission, Mr Moses Kolawole, made the assertion recently at the maiden Nigeria Ludo Championship, held at Teslim Balogun Stadium. The championship, which was staged in July, 2022 was organised by Gbolad Continental Ventures, in conjunction with the Lagos State Sports Commission.
Kolawole stated that many Nigerian families once enjoyed Ludo, unlike in recent times when it has been practically abandoned. He enjoined Nigerians to embrace the game again, not just in the family but also at competitive level.
Also speaking during the championship, the convener, Olaide Graham, said, “Ludo Game is a sport that helps build strategy and critical thinking. It is a game that can bring unity among people who cannot engage in other sports such as football, basketball and other popular events.”
Thankfully, Ludo Game is easy to play. After one exposure, one can subsequently continue to master it. The board is also not expensive, as it can be as cheap as N2000 or less; hence almost anybody can afford it. One call also play the game online through the Online Ludo app. As such, there is really no barrier for anybody that desires to start playing Ludo and enjoys all its health and physical benefits.