Barnga—When Cultures Play by Different Rules


I have used Barnga in Oman, Nicaragua, Kuwait, Mexico, USA–and it is great everywhere.

Clearing Customs

3415757612_ac0139111a_nWhen it comes to cross-cultural simulation games, Barnga is an oldie but a goody.

Barnga was created by Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan in 1980, while working for USAID in Gbarnga, Liberia. During a coup, his team’s vehicles were commandeered by the military, so Thiagarajan and his colleagues stayed in their compound, passing the time playing Euchre. Born in Chennai, India, Thiagarajan had moved to Bloomington, Indiana, where he’d learned how to play the card game, and as his Liberian coworkers hadn’t played it before, he gave them a copy of Hoyles Games to read up on the rules. The trouble was, after their crash course, they all came away with different interpretations of how to play. Rather than clear up the arguments, Thiagarajan let the players work it out, and after three hours, the group had settled on their own, unique version of Euchre.

“This interesting episode presented me with a blinding flash…

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About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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