An Experiential Comparative Tool for Board Games
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In the field of game studies, contemporary board games have until now remained relatively unexplored. The recent years have allowed us to witness the emergence of the occasional academic texts focusing on board games – such as Eurogames (Woods, 2012), Characteristics of Games (Elias et al. 2013), and most recently Game Play: Paratextuality in Contemporary Board Games (Booth, 2015). The mentioned authors all explore board games from diverse viewpoints but none of these authors present a viable and practical analytical tool to allow us to examine and differentiate one board game from another. In this vein, this paper seeks to present an analytical comparative tool intended specifically for board games. The tool builds upon previous works (Aarseth et al. 2003; Elias et al. 2012; and Woods 2012) to show how four categories – rules, luck, interaction and theme – can interact on different levels to generate diverse gameplay experiences. Such a tool allows to score games objectively and separately in each of the categories to create a combined gameplay experience profile for each board game. Following this, the paper proceeds to present numerous practical examples of contemporary board games and how it can be used from a design perspective and an analytical perspective alike.