The heavy workload from assignments and exams is one of the major sources of stress for college students. Students seek out numerous methods, such as listening to music, surfing on the Internet and playing mobile games to lighten their minds. Korea University’s (KU) board game club, SulKUs suggests to students an enjoyable way of relieving stress, improving grey matter and making friends at the same time. “Board games are attractive in that they enable players to feel analog esthetic and add pleasure in youngsters’ amusement culture,” Ko Sangyoon (’14, Chemistry), the leader of SulKUs commented.
The term board game includes any game that uses a game board and progresses by moving pieces under designated rules. Games that use cards strategically are also included in the range. Players enjoy board games facing an opponent with other players, which makes it more fun and different from online games. “People usually think of games that require agility, such as Halli Galli and Jenga. Since we enjoy games that require brain power, our club is named after a medical term for folds in human brain, sulcus. With the combination of KU, it is called SulKUs,” explained Ko. “And I found out that SulKUs is one of the few board game clubs in Korea that is a central club with an official club room.”
It has not been that long since the club branched out officially. At first, it was an informal society of several members who enjoyed games, of which members had to rent a room from the Mathematics department. According to Ko, SulKUs was initiated as an official board game society in 2009, went flop in 2010 and rebounded in 2011. The rise of SulKUs was in 2012, when many returnees from military service came to join and they began in earnest. It finally was registered as an official central club in 2014. Members have regular meetings twice a week, and impromptu meetings take place frequently.
In addition to playing board games with club members, SulKUs participates in numerous board game related activities. They take part in competitions with other board game clubs in different universities. “We have won a lot of prizes in those competitions,” Ko proudly commented. According to Ko, SulKUs members hold annual board game contest for KU students, such as the Rummikub contest held in 2013 and 2014, and Splender which was held last year. They also lend board games to other clubs and autonomous communities, or open a free board game booth during the festival week. Occasionally, they translate rule books for new games and distribute board game materials in Korean.
“Speaking of the cultural value of board games, the attraction is in finding pleasure in thinking strategically when playing the games. Especially in the era stressing quickness, pondering on what would be a better strategy to win the game while keeping one’s composure is rare,” Ko commented. This characteristic of board games elicits the analog esthetic of people that was hidden inside their minds. Also, it becomes an additional aspect of amusement culture of the young population whose entertainment is mainly about drinking. “There are not only dry games such as chess but also games with various themes and concepts. Thus, players can experience other countries’ culture and history while playing the game,” Ko added.
SulKUs has a peculiar tradition of welcoming the new members. Original members do not ask the new comers’ names when they first meet. They simply play board games together again and again. After several visits, the new comers would be asked, “I think I’ve met you several times; what is your name?” “I was embarrassed at first, but this way of welcoming enables the members to apprehend each other’s characteristics through which strategies they use in the game,” Ko explained. That is, members are already acquainted with each other by playing games together without having to know each other’s name.
▲ Provided by Ko Sangyoon.
Since board games usually require large space and are time consuming, membership training (MT) provides a great opportunity to play those type of games. “Most MTs in other clubs are mainly about endless drinking. SulKUs members are, in fact, not fond of drinking during MTs,” Ko said. Instead of drinking, members spend their time planning strategies in order to win in games.
“It has been a year since I joined SulKUs. I merely was interested in board games, which led me to participate passionately. One day I found myself as a leader of the club,” Ko reminisced. He commented that he was tired of exams that require memorizing gigantic amount of knowledge rather than comprehension when he first came to KU. Board games, on the other hand, enabled him to use his own mental capacity and this lured him into the club. “I enjoyed using my brain power when solving questions, instead of memorizing knowledge. Without knowing very well about board games, I visited SulKUs and it captivated me,” Ko remarked.
Any student in KU who is fed up with going through dry, tedious routine and blindly memorizing piles of knowledge would enjoy stimulating their sulci with challenging board games. Not only that, students can experience exotic culture and analog esthetic, which is a rare experience that will enrich their lives. If you are looking for amusement that actually enhances your brain power, there’s no time to hesitate. Join now!
Period of Recruitment: Any time
Requirements to Join SulKUs: Any KU student, regardless of age and major, who is interested in and willing to learn and play board games