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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: 'Return to Dark Tower': Designing Compelling Physical-Digital Connected Games

Tim Burrell-Saward  (Founder, Mother Ultimate)

Date: Monday, July 19

Time: 2:40pm - 3:10pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass

Topic: Board Game Design

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: N/A: I prefer to present live on-site but I am open to delivering a virtual presentation

Making games that connect across physical and digital mediums can allow for some unique play experiences - provided you can safely navigate the challenges that come from bridging these two worlds. Focusing on the production of connected tabletop game Return to Dark Tower, but also drawing from past works including the Jenga-meets-Pokémon stack-em-up Beasts of Balance, this talk will share key insights and techniques for those interested in making cohesive and compelling play experiences that span hardware, software and code. How do projects like these take shape? What does the manufacturing process look like, and how can it inform your designs? How can you meet the unique financial challenges of producing connected games? And how can you employ solid design processes to de-risk the whole endeavour? The connected game space is ripe with potential for innovation, and the barrier of entry is lower than you think.


Attendees will learn about the unique play affordances offered by games that have both physical and digital components. They will gain practical insights into the design of connected games, and also will learn about the development processes involved.

Intended Audience

Designers and developers from both the videogame and boardgame industry.