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Use the GDC 2021 Session Viewer to browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by day, time, pass type, topic, and format. All registered attendees will be able to build their personal schedule directly within the event platform, once live early July 2021. All times are listed in Pacific Time.

Board Game Design Summit: Making Sense of Digital Tools In Modern Board Games

Melissa Rogerson  (Lecturer, The University of Melbourne)

Date: Monday, July 19

Time: 2:00pm - 2:30pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass

Topic: Board Game Design

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: N/A: I would like to deliver a virtual presentation only

This session presents an overview of the use of technology in boardgames. First, it identifies the ways in which digital tools are used throughout play, from teaching and learning through to logging and tracking plays, and the diversity of tools – both official and after-market – that are used. Focusing on Hybrid Digital Boardgames, which combine physical pieces with smart digital technologies, it breaks down 41 different functions which digital tools perform. We classify these across eight core domains – timing, randomising, housekeeping, informing, storytelling, remembering, calculating, and teaching. Published games are used to highlight how these functions contribute to gameplay. We will also report on how players and industry professionals feel about combining technology and boardgames. Issues include the definition of a boardgame; existing attitudes towards digital and hybrid technologies; the relationship between digital tools and game design; the costs of digital tools; and their impact on player experience.


Attendees will gain an understanding of the broad range of uses of digital technologies in boardgames, as well as of the concerns and issues that surround them, based on empirical data and research.

Intended Audience

This topic is of interest to anyone wanting to know more about the use of digital tools in boardgames – whether a player or someone working in the industry.