One of the primary requirements for this thesis is that it contributes to my field of study. My field of study is interactive design and game development. I have been a professional interactive designer and developer for over 12 years before making the transition to being a full-time instructor. While I have always been fascinated by card, table-top, and video games since my childhood, besides a few brief prototypes during my undergrad studies, I haven’t had the opportunity to really pursue the field of game development professionally.
I’m excited about my future in game development both academically and professionally. First academically, I have really enjoyed teaching the basics of game design using paper prototypes and Unity in my Interactive Design class at Northampton Community College. After I complete my MFA, I’m planning on building on this course and creating an AFA in Applied Digital and Interactive Art at my school. Professionally, I hope that research I’m doing will lead to more digital applications of board games and self-publishing my own board and digital games.
The objective my thesis to make table-top games easier to learn for single players by providing a gesture-based digital application that utilizes three-dimensional models and automated tutorials. Modern table-top board and card games can be very difficult to learn for the new player looking to get into the game. While the complex rules and systems can lead to emergent gameplay, the player has a tall hill to climb to achieve a level of understanding with the game where they can feel comfortable playing the game with other players.
I believe that game designers understand this is an issue and they try to educate new players through illustrated game manuals and walk-through videos. However, I believe these solutions can fall short for players who want an interactive walkthrough of how to play the game. Traditionally, this is achieved by having an experienced player walk a new player through the game for the first time, but this isn’t available to everyone. Having an interactive digital version of the game enables new players to learn the game on their own and achieve a level of understanding of the game so that they can be prepared to play the game with other players.
Card games like Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh have digital versions of their card games in place gives new players a gateway to learning these games on computers, tablets, and phones. Table-Top Simulator (pictured above) provides a great way to play almost any board or card game digitally, however, it’s still limited by being PC only and not available on tablets or phones. While there is a substantial cost to create a digital version of a table-top game, my thesis will show that the long-term benefits of having a digital version are worth the initial cost of design and development. All game designers know that the success of a board game is dependent on how many players play it and making their games easier to learn digitally will lead to long-term success in the industry.