Alexander Johan de Voogt or simply Alex de Voogt (Baarn, May 3, 1970) is a Dutch researcher working as an assistant curator of African Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History and best known for his work on the logics of traditional mancala games. He is also editor of Board Game Studies, the main scientific journal on board games.
De Voogt began studying mancalas in the 1990s, while he was in Zanzibar for a field study on the Swahili language. At the time, he began analyzing the rules and logical mechanics of the Bao mancala game (one of the most complex mancalas) by interviewing acknowledged Zanzibari "Bao masters". In 1995 he published his PhD thesis Limits of the Mind: Towards a Characterization of Bao Mastership where he analyzed the intellectual abilities required to master the Bao game.
The work on Bao set the basis for all subsequent research activities by De Voogt. Among the many mancalas De Voogt has been collecting information on and studying there are Katro (Madagascar), Owela (Namibia), Warri (Barbados), Hawalis (Oman), Ohvalhu (Maldives), Mangaley (Syria) and Olinda Keliya (Sri Lanka).Limits of the mind: Towards a characterisation of the bao mastership, 1995
New approaches to board games research: asian origins and future perspectives, 1995
Mancala Board Games, British Museum Press, Londra 1997
Seeded players: East African game of Bao, Natural History, New York, 1998.
Distribution of mancala board games: A methodological Inquiry, «Board Games Studies» 2, 1999, pp. 104–114.
(with H. H. L. M. Donkers and J. W. H. M Uiterwijk) Human versus machine problem-solving: Winning openings in Dakon, in «Board Games Studies», 3, pp. 79–88, 2000
(with H. H. L. M. Donkers and J. W. H. M. Uiterwijk) Mancala games: Topics in mathematics and artificial intelligence, in Proceedings of the Colloquium Board Games in Academia IV, Fribourg: Edition Universitaire 2001, pp. 133–146.
(with F. Gobet and J. Retschitzki) Moves in Mind: The Psychology of Board Games. Psychology Press, Hove 2004.
"A question of excellence, a century of African masters". Africa World Press, Trenton NJ 2005.
"Mancala games and their suitability for players with visual impairments", Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness 104(11):725–731.