Hello, Chaz Marler here from… the internet… this computer connected network full of interwebbed technology that facilitates our regular discussion on board games. Fancy. But what about technology in board games? Now, I’m not talking about iOS and Android app versions of games, which Suzanne does an excellent job of covering. I’m talking about the trend that crops up every decade or so of cramming some technology into my board game and calling it an innovation. Whether it’s making the game talk like in electronic battleship, adding a computerized randomizer like Stop Thief, or incorporating additional media, like the clue VCR board game -- the result is most often just another fad as cringeworthy as Winkers, the pants with eyes.
A trend I’ve started to notice that’s trying to gain steam is: incorporating smartphones and tablets into games as a necessary component.
The upcoming game Golem Arcana by Harebrained Schemes is one such device-dependent endeavor. Golem Arcana utilizes technology similar to Leapfrog Tag Reader books, where a pen is used to point to specially treated boards and figure bases. The pen is networked into an app running on your tablet, which performs the heavy lifting of determining things like legal actions, terrain modifiers, and die rolls for you. All you need to do is point and play.
Personally, I’m cautiously optimistic about the way Golem Arcana is injecting technology into tabletop gaming. Its level of sophistication makes previous tech fads look like, well, like a pair of Winkers. But will time reveal this to be just another fad, or is a new sub genre of games about to be ushered in? What’s your take on this and other device-dependent games? Post your opinion in a comment below, and, over the upcoming months, we’ll see who’s right.