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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: Computerized Board Games rss

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GeekInsight
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Whittier
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There has been a trend recently to turn board games into computer games. Carcassonne can be played on the Xbox 360, Settlers of Catan is coming to the PSN, and the iPad is proving to be a host to tons of board games, including Small World. I’m a little schizophrenic in my opinion on this trend to digitize board games. On the one hand, I think it’s an excellent tool to get non-gamers interested in the hobby (and if you already own an iPad, the Small World app is far cheaper than the physical game). But, on the other hand, I feel like you really miss out on a key aspect of gaming when you’re staring at a computer screen.

On the plus side, playing some games in a computer format is fantastic. Having the computer shuffle your cards for you, or do any math instantly is a real bonus. I never play Klondike Solitaire at all. Ever. It’s just too much hassle to shuffle up the cards and lay out the game when it might only last a few rounds with a bad draw. However, I play it on my phone all the time. No need to clear space for the cards and I can just click New Game if I lose.

And, technology can bring some benefits. Computers can generate cards, dice rolls, or other needed randomness in a manner that much more closely approximates the truly random than simply giving your deck a few shuffles. It can also add in interesting or helpful animations. And the computer will know all the rules. So you never find out later that you’ve been playing a game wrong (happened to my group more than a few times).

On the other hand, the best part of playing board games is the interaction with other people. I generally dislike playing against AI. Eventually, you figure out what the metric is for its decisions and you have a leg up in the game. A human will pursue differing strategies to different degrees - which is very important in a complex game. Without that, it lacks that je ne sais quoi.

Some computer games allow you to play with other players. But they rarely integrate anything more than the cumbersome chat pane. It really isn’t conducive to interaction, friendly banter, and totally cripples any game with negotiation. I’ve tried to play computer based Agricola, for example, but even against real people I feel like there’s just something lacking.

I guess my thought is that digitized board games are good for the hobby, but result in a less favorable experience for the player. What about you? What are your thoughts on this trend?

Feel free to join the discussion at Giant Fire Breathing Robot (where you can also find my reviews, news, and other travels through board game geekery)
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Randy McKinney
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Carcassonne on XBLA is one of my favorite XBLA games. But I think you're missing something there. There is absolutely nothing saying that you can't have a group of friends over to play Carcassonne on XBLA just as easily as you can with the board game version.

The advantages are clear. No setup time, no shuffling, no cheating/accidental rule breaking, automatic scoring. The drawbacks are there too though. You aren't guaranteed to get all the expansions, the online community tends to dry up, if the game can't be played with hot potato functionality then often you can't play same screen multiplayer.

Even though I love my digitized board games, the real things serve their purpose too. In fact, I'll often buy both versions. Not everyone is going to want to gather around the TV to play a board game. You may want the un-published expansions. Some games just don't equate well to digital gaming. For instance, games with large boards would require a lot of scrolling and/or zooming.

I think there is a large market for both. But it certainly puts more pressure on the game designers to recognize which market to target with which products.
 
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Tim
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If the quality continues to match the level of Ticket to Ride, Panzer General: Allied Assault, and Risk: Factions (XBox) and Carcassonne (iPhone) Small World (iPad) and the half-dozen or so Knizia games... then I think it's nothing but good for the hobby.

Digital versions of board games are never going to replace their physical counterpart for the very reason you said yourself. It's about the interaction between players. Half the people in my board-game group say they came to board games from computer games because they wanted the personal element. We're a long way from computers or online interactions providing that level of experience.

[EDIT]
Oh, the poster above slipped in while I was typing. But I do agree with what he says. Having friends over to play on the XBox, or putting an iPad down on the table between two people is a very attractive alternative to messing with little pieces! :)
[/EDIT]
 
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I like playing board games by myself vs AI. It helps me hone my strategies, try out new things, and even see how certain rulings will work. If I could play these games IRL more, or even at all, then I would, but the problems are 1) there are so many other worthy games too and 2) some people don't like those games. Playing vs AI helps me and others get their fix.
 
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