Arun, a villager in rural India, suffers at the hands of a large clan who took his land from him. The only hope for him and his family is to move to the city and take up a job most people like him often end up in, electronic waste recycling. Facing toxic conditions and working for a low wage, he has to focus on being as efficient as possible in order to put food on the table.
Burn the Boards plays out like a simulation game wrapped around a swiping puzzle. The actual puzzles consist of clearing tiles, erasing up to three in a row. Later on, a bigger variety of special tiles show up, such as blocking tiles, bigger score multipliers, and other miscellaneous effects that must be kept in mind when swiping. The challenge lies in clearing the board as efficiently as possible. The factory boss awards golden stars and cash based on how many moves cleared each level.
There’s more to the game, though. When not “working” at the e-waste shop, Burn the Boards ties the puzzle with in-game events, like dinner with family, visits, and changing weather conditions. Every night, players have the option to eat a meal, or skip it if they can’t afford one, which would impair health. Not going to work helps with nursing back to a better condition, but the loss of income might not be enough to put food on the table. Adverse weather can potentially damage the house, piling another worry onto the family.
The game’s content is meant to highlight an important issue: The creators want gamers to realize the dangers of e-waste recycling and the toxicity that’s often present at the factories. Workers are at risk of getting exposed to toxic fumes (just like Arun in the game). Half the revenue earned from Burn the Boards goes to Action for World Solidarity, an organization that supports local initiatives, namely improving worker conditions in India.