iPhone” (CC BY 2.0) by  vreimunde 

Picture the scene, you’re travelling around the world and you’re looking for something to do in between sightseeing trips.

Regardless of which country or continent you’re in, games will play a major role in the fabric of the society around you. Ranging from the simple to the complex, these games are a great way for you to pass the time and engage with a new culture in a more intimate way.

Of course, landing in a foreign land and casually approaching a stranger in the street and asking to play a local game might not go down too well. Fortunately, there is a way to learn a little bit more about your surroundings, have some fun and not offend anyone around you and that’s to play games via your Smartphone.

Over the past decade the range of games available for iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows mobile devices has grown significantly and, today, you can play just about anything from anywhere at any time. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of five games from around the world that you should consider downloading before you head off on your next around the world trip.

India: Chess


chess” (CC BY 2.0) by  Ruocaled 

Despite being codified in Europe, the origins of chess reportedly stretch back more than 1,500 years to India. Today you can find almost as many FIDE rated chess players in India as you can in Russia (a country that traditionally produces the top players in the world), so if you want to blend in with the crowd it pays to download an app before you touchdown.

Although there are plenty of products out there, Chess.com’s Play & Learn app is probably the best option for an aspiring novice as it offers more than 50,000 training puzzles as well as access to more than 10 million players worldwide.

Brazil: Brazilian Checkers

6843797741_147bbc66af_b “Checkers Wallpaper” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  Golden_Ribbon 

If you’re not quite advanced enough for chess, then why not try a game of Brazilian checkers. Much like English draughts, the game is a simpler form of chess with players aiming to capture their opponent’s pieces by making diagonal moves.

However, unlike the English version of the game, Brazilian checkers is played on an 8×8 board (instead of 10×10) with 12 pieces (instead of 20). Additionally, players can capture pieces in a forward and backward motion as opposed to the traditional forward capture dynamic.

Various mobile apps are available in the Apple Store, including a highly rated version by Itchigoo.

Australia: Pokies

6791170926_bf6590298b_b “Giant slot machine” (CC BY 2.0) by  twodolla 

Fly to Australia and ask any adult what the most popular pastime is and they’ll probably say pokies. Known as slot machines in every other country around the world, pokies appear in virtually every bar, members club and casino in Australia and generate more than $12 billion annually.

In fact, such is the significance of pokies that various sports clubs in Australia derive the bulk of their revenue from pokies. Picking up on this trend, you can now download mobile casino apps from operators such as Smart Live and play all manner of themed games. From NetEnt’s video slots to Betsoft’s 3D games such as Jack Hammer 2, Smart Live’s mobile casino (iOS and Android) app allows you to spin like an Aussie on the move.

China: Go


Go” (CC BY 2.0) by  2benny 

Despite being one of the most complex strategy games in the world, Go is enjoyed by millions of Chinese players every year. The main aim of Go is to surround your opponent’s territory with counters and control the board.

Although the nuances of the game are far more complex than that, the 361-square board is a common sight in China, so if you want to tussle with the locals in a friendly game of Street Go then we’d advise you to download GOdroid by Andreas Grothe if you’re an Android user and SmartGo if you’re an iOS owner.

By running through the basics of the game via an app you can at least understand why you lost when it inevitably happens.

The US: Poker

118034414_58ba63797c_b “poker” (CC BY 2.0) by  shoobydooby 

Although the origins of poker are steeped in mystery (it’s like someone is trying to bluff us about its origins), the game was made popular in the US and the state of Texas. Today the World Poker Tour estimates that more than 100 million play the game worldwide and 60% of players are based in the US.

Unsurprisingly, you can now play poker in a variety of ways via your mobile, including free play and real money games. For a carefree experience without any financial exposure, Facebook poker apps such as Zynga poker are hugely popular and allow you to play all the most common varieties of the game, including Texas Hold’em, for free against more than 20 million players.

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