Thoughts on the Digital Game Board

Bill Loguidice's picture

The Philips Entertaible Digital Board Gaming Surface: Photo from PC Magazine onlineThe Philips Entertaible Digital Board Gaming Surface: Photo from PC Magazine onlinePC Magazine, reporting on news from the Internationale Funkausstellung, a consumer electronics show in Berlin, revealed that Philips will show off the Entertaible, a digital board-gaming surface, on Friday.

We've of course recently seen over the past several years the rise of virtual physical games, if you want to call them that, mostly in "arcades" (if even those can be called that anymore). Essentially these games take real world concepts like shuffleboard or bowling, and use partial physical items, like paddles or pucks, that are utilized on a flat, virtual surface, and interact with an impact sensor at the end of the table to make something happen on the video screen, preferably accurately reflecting what would happen if it were an all physical setup. There's also been quite a bit of controversy in the pinball world, where these virtual machines take the form factor of traditional pinball machines, but do the majority of their work via a video screen. This allows for infinitely configurable tables, but is it still really pinball, or more akin to what we play on our computers and videogame systems? In any case, the revolution, if you want to call it that, has been well under way.

What intrigued me about the Entertaible when I first read about it, was the idea of infinitely configurable board games. I know I have several board game ideas I wish to implement that are ideally suited more as board games than videogames, but I know something like the Entertaible would make them all the more exciting. I still plan on making traditional board game versions as my time permits, but being able to implement a hybrid would be wonderful. The downsides of course with the Philips solution are the extremely high price - this is no consumer product as of yet - the fact that it runs on Windows XP (this really is just a computer in a touch screen LCD TV/monitor) and the idea that no doubt this would not be open to "homebrew" development. It would be awesome though to have a virtual marketplace where for a few bucks a pop one could download a new board game uploaded by creative users. If the Entertaible or something like it came with enough generic playing pieces, the possibilities could be limitless. Even the physical playing pieces could have expansion options. The ideas, are, needless to say, exciting. Until the price gets down though, we'll have to content ourselves with purely virtual computer/videogame "board" games, some of the earliest forms of electronic entertainment ever (and yes, I know, some mixed in traditional boards and pieces - I have many, actually - but the interaction was purely manual), and traditional board games, where we pile up the game boxes as we acquire more and more games as the family gets bored with one after another...

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Matt Barton
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Settlers of Cataan

Just out of curiosity, Bill, have you ever tried one called "Settlers of Cataan"? I was in a game store recently and the owner really pulled out all the stops to get me to try it, but I was just popping in for a second. From what I've heard, it's a really awesome board game.

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Bill Loguidice
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Xbox Live Arcade and Civilization the Board Game

I have not tried "..Cataan", Matt, but apparently it's getting ported to Xbox Live Arcade, along with several other board games. Must be pretty good.

The last fancy pants board game I bought was "Civilization", based on the Sid Meier classic. Tons of pieces, fancy board, oppressive rules, etc. I even downloaded the rules revisions which apparently make the game much more playable (I have version 1 of the board game, version 2 is available now, but is the same thing, just with better rules). I have never of course gotten around to trying it, me being me.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
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Matt Jones (not verified)
A word of advice - settlers

A word of advice - settlers of catan is great! It's one of my all time favourite board games. Me and my family can't get enough of it, we play it every holidays. The expansions arn't bad at all either - I suggest cities and knights, but seafearers is ok too.

Mark Vergeer
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I wholeheartedly agree!
Matt Jones wrote:

A word of advice - settlers of catan is great! It's one of my all time favourite board games. Me and my family can't get enough of it, we play it every holidays. The expansions arn't bad at all either - I suggest cities and knights, but seafearers is ok too.

PS3: MarkVergeer | Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Bill Loguidice
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I have Catan for the 360 (I

I have Catan for the 360 (I think it was free at one point), but I honestly have not gotten around to playing it. The learning curve was a bit rough when we tried to play. Hopefully someday we'll get to play it, as I always hear how good both it and it's source material is. Heck, I still haven't played "Eye of Judgment" on the PS3 with Christina yet and I even have an extra set of cards.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[About Me]

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Mark Vergeer
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Settlers of Cataan - Kolonisten van Katan....

Settlers of Cataan is a great board game. I have a windows version too, but prefer the original board game. There's a kazillion of expansion sets for the game and it is very fun to play with more than 2 people.

-= Mark Vergeer - Armchair Arcade editor =-

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mrCustard (not verified)
Philips is a TV maker

I suppose the Philips people get restless when they see a surface without a flat screen. I attended a few seminars on UI design, that had speakers from Philips amongst others. The one thing that I remember most from those seminars that Philips imagined touch sensitve flat panel displays absolutely everywhere. On your desksurface, on the table, on the fridge, on the walls of your living room (instead of windows and paintings). So this doesn't surprise me one bit.

But altough it seems a nice idea at first sight, i don't think that many board gamers will fall for it. The biggest problem that I see, is the genericness of it all. The thing with boardgames is that they're fun because they are all unique. You have nicely sculpted markers, fake paper money and silly cardboard thingies. With the Entertaible, you have none of that, and away is the charm of the boardgame.

Gamertag: Custardo

Bill Loguidice
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Playing Pieces that Interact with the Screen

Well, they do actually show playing pieces that can interact with the screen. The screen is also touch sensitive, so you could probably replicate a dice throwing motion. In fact, I bet anything short of dice or paper money, meaning playing pieces and maybe even physical building blocks (plastic building for instance that you can stack), could probably be incorporated into the play. With a rich enough screen, any visually interesting board can be displayed, though it's absolutely tru e that it's limited to the rectangular screen (though I'm sure you could do other shapes just using less of the screen). Maybe in 10 years this will be affordable and practical for the home?

Perhaps instead of replicating something like "Monopoly", this can generate ideas for a whole new breed of "board" games that truly optimize the use of that platform.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[ My collection ]
[ http://www.MythCore.com ]

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Mark Vergeer
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The actual board game is better

I got the Catan game on the 360 as well because we just love the original board game but ended up not playing it. Wish I could give it away to someone does want to play it.

PS3: MarkVergeer | Xbox 360: Lactobacillus P | Wii: 8151 3435 8469 3138
Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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