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New Iraqi board games revisit cultural heritage, create common ground

Iraqis have played board games for millennia, and a new generation of them are creating new ones steeped in Iraqi history with the hope of getting more of them to put down their screens and meet other players face to face.

Iraqis love games. In every teahouse, one finds men of all ages slapping down domino pieces or praying for doubles over a backgammon board. Merchants take breaks from their establishments to play a few rounds of dama, a variant of checkers. In the evenings, families play the card game rummy into the wee hours.

In recent years, younger Iraqis have become addicted to online gaming, including Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, or PUBG, pronounced “pub-gee,” for short. Iraq’s parliament was so concerned that in April it voted almost unanimously to ban a suite of online games due to their potentially negative influence on the young. Like elsewhere, however, the lawmakers' paternalistic policy approach made the online games all the more popular. 

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