This week's episode is a longer one, stretching out to just shy of an hour, but I was absolutely stoked to welcome Tomas Rawlings of Auroch Digital (and a patron), who brought me news of emerging devices for hybrid tabletop/digital gaming that I found absolutely fascinating, and it was terrific to get Tomas's insight into how these could transform our tabletop experience. I start as a skeptic, but really found my enthusiasm growing as Tomas explained what could be done with products like these.
The news items this week covered:
Additional listening on the topics discussed can be found here:
The News this week is brought to you in partnership with Auroch Digital, an independent games and game software company based in the UK, dedicated to opening up the digital space for outstanding board games, as well as creating new tabletop games.
The Square One Kickstarter concluded on 15th December, successfully funding at over €180k. Imagine a tabletop game board that can transform itself into any number of different boards for a wide range of games at the touch of a button, building in all sorts of extra digital utility, animations and extra dimensions for tabletop games. Square One’s release will support Ticket to Ride, Labyrinth, Cthulhu Wars, The Crew, Ramses, Game of Thrones, Mars Horizon and others, with plans to keep supporting the product with new games in the future. Square One isn’t the first product of its type in the market, with the Gameboard-1 having successfully funded with a similar concept and Tilt Five having raised almost $2m for an augmented reality game board headset.
It’s worth mentioning that, to date, none of these projects has shipped to backers let alone reached retail distribution. But we’ll be talking to Auroch Digital CEO, Tomas Rawlings, later to see what he thinks about the collision of digital and physical.
Speaking of Auroch Digital, the card game version of their aforementioned game, Mars Horizon - Mars Horizon: Blast Off - is on sale right now, with a massive 50% off. The game is all about commanding a mission to begin the manned exploration of the red planet. Mars Horizon itself is a digital board game - that is, a digital game that plays like a board game, but with the additional dimensionality of a digital game. If you like some hard science in your science fiction boardgaming, you should check out their scientific credentials in a recent Auroch Digital podcast episode with the United Kingdom Space Agency's Dr Alice Bunn - I’ll put a link in the episode notes.
And finally, in a nod to this week’s guest’s personal passion for all things samurai, 2D6 Wargaming has successfully funded a range of 6mm white metal medieval Japanese miniatures, and the production of a third edition of their battle game, Banzai, that provides rules for wargaming in the Sengoku Jidai - the golden age of the samurai warrior! And if you like your medieval oriental warriors with a more fantastical twist, the awesome GCT Studios have announced a brand new faction for their oriental fantasy skirmish game, Bushido. The Brotherhood looks like a cross between The Seven Samurai and Ocean’s Eleven. I love it.
Before I introduce this week’s guest, properly, and we discuss the news and what the future might hold for the blending of digital and physical tabletop games, let me just remind you that I moderated a panel discussion on this subject for Steam’s Digital Tabletop Fest. If you want to see the full range of fantastic conversations with luminaries from both sides of the gaming industry, just search for Digital Tabletop Fest on Google, or follow the link in my show notes.
Having said all that, we’re going to move to this week’s discussion which will - finally - include a guest contributor. So, Bernard, do your thing.
As this week’s discussion was a freeform conversation between Robey and Dr Tomas Rawlings of Auroch Digital, there’s no script to share. But our bullet points covered:
The digital/tabletop hybrid - what’s already happening and where could this technology take us? And, most importantly, why aren’t we there already?
The new digital tabletop platforms and Tomas’s personal experience with them
What these platforms need to do to become “mainstream”
Why board games aren’t obsolete
What this means for miniatures games
What the future might hold but why it might not
The samurai and the sengoku jidai - why are western gamers so obsessed with someone else’s war?
Oriental martial arts, the appeal of “the exotic” and the myth of the samurai
The role of games in addressing the myth
Cultural appropriation in game design