Four students from the Academy of Brunei Studies (APB) recently released the Chator Asli Brunei app to the public, successfully bringing back a traditional board game from the brink of extinction.
With support from the Brunei History Association (PESEBAR), Brunei Chess Association and iCentre, the group launched the smartphone app which allows users to play the game, learn about its history as well as learn more about Brunei Darussalam. Distinguished Professor David Koh, Assistant Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) officiated the launch held at the Inspiring Hall, UBD.
Chator Asli Brunei was a board game famed to be the favourite of Sultan Bolkiah, Brunei's fifth Sultan, and played by other members of the royal household and among nobles at the time. Learned from Arab or Indian merchants, it was not considered a game for the common folk. "Malay Chess", as it was dubbed by TB Elcum in a magazine article written in 1907, remained within palace walls until it was later deemed a game suitable for everybody to play.
Khairul Anwar @Naqib Awang Haji Kismis and three others undertaking the module PB-4307: Project 2 saw the opportunity to incorporate technology into an important part of history. "People are always on the phone, communicating with one another and playing games," he said. "This is a chance to make sure that youngsters don't forget our culture and traditions."
Prior to the start of a small Chator Asli Brunei competition held in conjunction with the launch of the app, Haji Dzulkiflee Haji Abdul Latif from PESEBAR facilitated a workshop for students from Cluster 2 schools explaining the rules of Chator Asli Brunei to raise awareness of its history.
Currently the Chator Asli Brunei app is available for download through the Google Playstore and features gameplay against an Artificial Intelligence (AI) bot depending on a player's chosen difficulty level.
Khairul Anwar explained that while the module required students to be involved in innovation and enterprise, they opted against developing a product to be sold but rather redefined their project as one that "shares information. "It's not always about making money," he said. "It's a chance to show the world that Brunei has its own version of the game and it is something that Bruneians can be proud of."
UBD incorporates modules that develop innovative and entrepreneurial traits throughout the faculties regardless of their main areas of study, allowing students from varying backgrounds to still be able to benefit from acquiring the valuable entrepreneurial mindset that will help prepare them for the challenges of an ever-evolving world.