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Investigating the Design of Digital Tabletop Board Games

This is a completed project.


Gathering around the dining room table to play board games with friends and family is a common pastime for many people. In the past, board games were something to be played during family gatherings. More recently, the introduction of Euro-games, such as Settlers of Catan, has made adult game-playing extremely popular. Many players are drawn to the social atmosphere provided by the face-to-face environment of tabletop gameplay.

However, there are several drawbacks to these types of board games. Setting up a game came be time consuming, especially for complex strategy games. Moreover, these games can take many hours to play, and often are played over several sessions, requiring a dedicated space to house the game and game state between play sessions.

Digital tabletop computers provide an interesting opportunity to reduce some of these drawbacks, while maintaining the social, face-to-face environment not typically offered by standard computing gaming platforms. Moreover, the tabletop computers provide several opportunities to introduce new gaming genres unlike either traditional board games or traditional computer games. The aim of this project is to investigate user interface design issues related to converting traditional board games to a digital tabletop format, and to investigate new possible gaming genres enabled by the unique capabilities of a digital tabletop computing platform.

Digital tabletop version of the classic board game CheckersDigital tabletop version of the Pandemic cooperative board game


Pandemic board game used with permission from Z-Man Games and Matt Leacock Digital game board art design by Todor Doychev