Ultimate Game Board?

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Murder by Death
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Ultimate Game Board?

Post by Murder by Death »

Was looking at iPads and the thought occurred to me:

What if they made a 20" square digital game board, like a digital picture frame? It would be similar to the Franklin Mint Clue game, with a glass top, but it would be thin like a digital picture frame. So it would hang on the wall displaying digital photos or e-art, until you needed it, then it would simply lay flat on a table when you were ready to play.

The idea is, game manufacturers would sell small game kits with only the parts you needed to play the game, and a digital card that contained a high quality scan of the board, including electronic instructions.

So with a game like Clue for instance, a very small box that only held the cards, detective notes, pencils, pawns, weapons tokens and dice, and of course the digital card. The card could contain, not just one game board, but every Clue game board ever published. At the push of a button, you could be playing on any Clue game board you wanted.

I was just looking at my Clue/do collection and realized it takes up a lot of space. In fact, in addition to Clue, my entire board game collection, takes up an entire closet, and takes a great deal of effort to pull out a specific game to play. Now, if I had a digital game board, I could theoretically store all of my board games in a single drawer. To play a game, I would simply pull the frame/board off the wall and put it on a table, and easily get the box of playing pieces from the drawer. Pop in the memory card and select the playing surface I want. Even better, I would never lose the instructions! Anytime the rules come into question, you just click the rules button, and the game board displays them for all to read in large type.

I did a quick search online and discovered that there are digital picture frames up to 24" starting at a reasonable $250. A dedicated game board/still picture frame could sell for a lot less.

And as touch screens begin to drop in price, it could eventually contain the entire game, so you could play without tokens and even dice. You'd of course still need the cards, but the size of the actual games would become very small. Your entire game collection would consist of one game board, that doubles as a medium-sized wall picture, and a single box full of game pieces.

It would work for Chess, Checkers, Backgammon, Monopoly, Clue/do, Life, Risk, Stratego, Scrabble, Sorry, Trivial Pursuit, etc. Even games like Battleship would work with a partition to place between the sides.

I personally think it would be a great idea, and would help me re-claim some much needed storage space.

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Post by TheWhitePawn »

Great idea, but I doubt they would make a version with cards. Perhaps there would be a "look away" feature, like in Murder at Boddy Mansion for people playing in the same room. Otherwise, I bet it would incorporate wi-fi so that you can play with people around the world and see the other person's moves live while you play, similar to what Trivial Pursuit and Words With Friends do on the iPhone already.
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Post by Michael »

If the digital frame were used as a gameboard while using real pieces, I'd be a little worried about scratching up the screen. But this is a very interesting idea...
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Post by ajk93 »

Although it is a great idea, and it would save me tons of room too!,
I would feel that it sort of takes away from the classic board game feel.
I enjoy the box art, cracking open a board, and I agree with
Michael, I wouldn't wanna scratch it.
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Post by Murder by Death »

Scratching would be no more of a problem than it is for the Franklin Mint game or the Restoration Hardware/Frontgate edition. The tempered glass should offer plenty of protection against scratching except against those custom diamond encrusted tokens you might be using. ;-)

The White Pawn, I don't disagree that eventually it would go the way of WiFi game pads, which could be used with custom gamepads, or a person's smart phone, or iPad/tablet computer. But this would be a much more expensive game with a touch screen game board, WiFi radio, and computer to manage gameplay. Also, even the look-away feature would require personal shields around the edges of the board where your cards or tiles (Scrabble) would be displayed, limiting the game to only four players.  

The reason I think there would be a transitional phase is that it would allow many more families to buy one, if all it does is provide an inexpensive digital game board. Families especially who have a large game collections for family game night, would appreciate the ability to save space in this manner, but the system you suggest would be priced above what most game board-playing families could afford. Also, even after the transitional phase with an affordable, fully digital interactive game experience, I think there would be a demand for physical cards and playing pieces - one of the main things I love about board games is the tactile interface of handling a pawn, and counting out the spaces as I move. Some really love rolling the dice (I could take it or leave it). Then there's holding the playing cards - I mean can you imagine playing Spades with game pads only? All of these things, to me, make up the experience, vs. even playing an identical game on Wii. Solitaire is so much more satisfying with a real deck of cards than on the computer. So even if you have the deluxe touchscreen WiFi set, I think there would be a demand for expansion packs with the physical playing pieces, especially for games like Chess and Backgammon, and where those games exist with physical pieces, so would the others. And the beauty of the digital game board is that you can use it either way. 

And yes box art (which really only applies to Clue in my estimation), and "cracking-open" a board may be part of the experience to some ... it wouldn't be for me (well perhaps the box art). Besides, when the game is starting up, how neat would it be to display the box art on the screen, even allowing you to display every box cover ever created for the game while acting as a display on the wall?

And imagine down the line when glasses-less 3D screens become affordable - all the depth of the Franklin Mint game on a light flat surface. Imagine how much fun graphics intensive games like Risk would be with such depth of field. Granted it would take years for this to become wildly affordable, but if implemented as I suggest it would offer many different price points and features, all based around the economies of scale producing 20" LCD glass-covered screens. Indeed, I would expect traditional cardboard game boards will continue to be made for years after digital game boards become widely affordable, either out of tradition, or cost.

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Post by go_leafs_nation »

I already dislike 3D enough in movies-- it's the biggest gimmick ever, in my opinion. I wouldn't want to see it on a board game, personally. I'm fine with the old-fashioned board. A digiral one doesn't really spark my enthusiasm in the least.
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Post by Jane Poirot »

It sounds different, but I'm willing to approach it with an open mind. Which parts would you have in mind for the 3D? As for parts scratching the surface...well yeah, there is that flaw, but perhaps design the pieces with some sort of material that won't scratch it? Or maybe design it to recognize certain materials so that you can use anything made out of it to play, on the off-chance of losing a piece or two. Or maybe simply touch the screen to move forward a certain amount of spaces with a digital dice limiting how far you can go.
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Post by Murder by Death »

Jane Poirot wrote: Which parts would you have in mind for the 3D? As for parts scratching the surface...well yeah, there is that flaw, but perhaps design the pieces with some sort of material that won't scratch it?
As for the scratching, again I don't think there is any greater risk than with the Franklin Mint or the Restoration Hardware editions. I think the FM having been in the wild for so long show there is not much risk at all.

As for 3D, in Clue, the rooms would have depth to imitate the Franklin Mint model, or perhaps it could go the other way and the walls and furniture would appear to stick out of the board, and you could literally move throughout them. Games like Life would have the hills, and buildings, etc. on an otherwise multi-purpose flat board. I can only imagine what cool features could exist for Risk. And Battleship could have a 3D layer representing an underwater grid for subs and mines. It's literally "out-of-the-box" thinking.

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