Here are some recommended games by Asian and Asian American and Pacific Islander creators.
Lanterns – The Harvest Festival: Tile Laying Game
• Designer: Christopher Chung
• Publisher: Foxtrot Games, Renegade Game Studios
• 2-4 players
• 30+ minutes
• Age: 8+
Celebrate the harvest, and decorate the palace lake with floating lanterns. Can you manage your inventory and arrange your lantern tiles to make the best display? Placing carefully could earn big bonuses for displays that feature pairs, all the colors, and many more unique paterns. This game was a Mensa select winner in 2015.
A Mending: TTRPG
• Designer: Shing Yin Khor
• Publisher: Storybrewers
• 1-2 players
• 15+ minutes
• Age: 13+
• Available in PDF https://sawdustbear.itch.io/a-mending and Physical Copies https://shingyinkhor.bigcartel.com/product/a-mending
In this keepsake roleplaying game you’re traveling to visit a dear friend who you haven’t seen for quite some time. Armed with a cloth map, needle, and thread you embroider and mark the journey you take to visit them. Pulling from the game’s unique deck you draw cards that prompt you to explore who your friend is, the fond memories you’ve had of them, and various occurrences along the way to visit them. With minimum rules that encourage agency and creativity this is a quick game to learn, and an incredibly engrossing one to play. At the intersection of craft and play this game is in turns delightful and introspective, charming and meditative. And for the less crafty among your patrons there is the option to play with a printed map and pen or marker. Highly recommended for adding to a library’s ttrpg collection and programming.
Bonus How to Embroider Video: https://youtu.be/dpChRtiys8A
Say Anything: Party Game
• Designer: Satish Pillalamarri & Dominic Crapuchettes
• Publisher: North Star Games
• 3-8 players
• 30 minutes
• Age: 13+
In this delightful party game players will delve into answering an array of light-hearted questions. Through the rounds players will take turns either judging their favorite answer or deciding what the judge selected as their favorite. The game is both simple to teach and easy to get started playing. With the ability to say literally anything responses are fantastically creative and replayability of the game is high. Recommended for any library’s gaming collection or game night.
Seasons of Rice: Card Game
• Designer: Corry Damey
• Publisher: Button Shy Games
• 2 players
• 20 minutes
• Age: 8+
• Available in PDF https://www.pnparcade.com/products/seasons-of-rice-1?_pos=1&_sid=cd0788612&_ss=r and Physical Copies: https://buttonshygames.com/products/seasons-of-rice
In this tribute to the designer’s Cambodian heritage you play as a rice farmer expanding their family’s farm of rice paddies. During the game players take turns drafting cards and placing them to make the most bountiful fields. Quick and absorbing gameplay makes replaying fun and easy. A brief well laid out rules booklet makes this game both swift to learn and teach. The small size also makes it a great option for outreach events for the library. Recommended for adding to any gaming collection and programming.
Bonus How to Play by the Designer: https://youtu.be/g7XFOaT-cVg
Spelunky & Spelunky 2: Video Games
• Designer/Director: Derek Yu
• Publisher: Mossmouth
• 1-4 players
• 60+ minutes
• Age: 13+
• Available: Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, and Windows
In 2008, a 27-year-old Derek Yu released Spelunky as freeware. His creation then inspired the numerous indie ‘roguelikes’ made over the last decade. Spelunky and its almost-too-good-to-be-true sequel are now routinely mentioned in the same breath as Minecraft, Dark Souls, and Skyrim as the most influential modern video games. Both Spelunky and Spelunky 2 expertly blend difficult and challenging gameplay with a neverending sense of discovery using procedural generation. Each level has multiple layers of shortcuts, items, and traps, but levels are never the same each time you respawn. Yu calls Spelunky a “spicy” game. It is a game that is high on consequences and discomfort, which can dissuade more casual players from playing. But if you have never played Yu’s masterclasses in game design, it is as bold and rewarding a video game as any other ever made. This is a must-have for video game collections and a must-play for those who love a bit of a challenge.
Extra interesting video: Derek Yu’s talk at the 2021 Independent Games Summit is an intriguing view at developing a sequel to a beloved game, and is one of the most engaging PowerPoint sessions via Zoom I’ve ever watched: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL7v9ct6Gis
Yokohama: Board Game
• Designer: Hisashi Hayashi
• Publisher: Okazu Brands, Tasty Minstrel Games, and others
• 2-4 players
• 90 minutes
• Age: 14+
This is a wonderfully dense board game with a unique mechanic for moving pieces around the board. You can only move through locations where you already have presence. Once you do the action at a location, your strength there is based on your player pieces in that location. One of the things to appreciate about the game is the theme, which is not based on a fuzzy conception of an ambiguous “East”, but a specific time in the Meiji era. You play a merchant conducting business in the thriving port of Yokohama, just as it is opening up to foreign European powers. The game also has really beautiful pieces and art. This game would be great to add depth to a circulating collection, and really allow the advanced board gamer to check out a fun title.
Like our list? Want to write for us? Send us an email at GameRT@ala.org.