Welcome to Ludology, an analytical discussion of the how’s and why’s of the world of board games. Rather than news and reviews, Ludology explores a variety of topics about games from a wider lens, as well as discuss game history, game design and game players.

Ludology is made possible by the support and donations of listeners like you.

Have your own thoughts about our topics? We encourage you to visit us at our guild on Boardgamegeek to get involved in a continuing discussion.

You can also email us at gil@ludology.net or geoff@ludology.net.

Ludology is part of The Dice Tower Network, the premier board game media network.

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome special guest Jamie Madigan, author of the Psychology of Video Games blog, and author of the just released Getting Gamers.

Our topic is Avatars, and player representation in games. How does the role we take on in a game affect our experience and behavior?

Duration: 1:16:48

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_118.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek Geoff takes a look at the math behind the popular game Werewolf.

Duration: 06:35

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_117_-_Werewolf.mp3
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During BGG.CON 2015, Mike asked several publishers the same question:

How do you decide what games you want to publish?

With the myriad of pitches and submissions that publishers receive, it is vital for designers to understand what attracts someone's eye.

Publishers interviewed:

  • Stronghold Games
  • Dice Hate Me / Greater Than Games
  • R&R Games
  • Portal Games
  • Arcane Wonders
  • Crash Games
  • Gamelyn Games
  • ZMan Games

Duration: 01:07

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_117.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:24am EST

New Content! Geoff interviews Barry Joseph and Eric Teo about the game Gutsy. Barry is the Associate Director of Digital Learning at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and as part of a new exhibit on the human microbiome the team at AMNH worked with Eric Teo, to develop the card game Gutsy.

Many of you know Eric Teo as the host of the Push Ur Luck Podcast, and he is also a graduate student studying game design at the NYU Game Center.

Why do a card game? What do they hope to teach, and what other roles do games have to augment museum exhibits?

A Print & Play copy of Gutsy can be downloaded at the AMNH website!

Duration 25:45

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_116_-_Gutsy.mp3
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Mike and Geoff take a look at "Take That" games. When does this mechanic work, and when does it fail?

Duration: 1:13:34

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_116.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about the revolutionary studies about the human microbiome, and what that can teach us about playing and designing games.

Duration: 06:13

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_115_-_Microbes.mp3
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What changes are usually made between a first and second edition of a game? And what does that teach us about the design process?

Mike and Geoff are joined by guest Paul Grogan, who was heavily involved in the new edition of Through The Ages with CGE, to examine these questions.

And since we're talking about Through The Ages, we had to invite Ryan Sturm to come back for an encore visit to the program.

Duration 01:21:00

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_115.mp3
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Geoff gives a quick report on his play of Advanced Civilization last week.

Duration: 08:17

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_114_-_Civilization.mp3
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Mike and Geoff talk CHAOS! Mike loves it in his games. Can he convince Geoff of its charms?

Duration: 1:04:37

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_114.mp3
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In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the Sunk Cost Fallacy.

Duration: 05:05

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_113_-_Sunk_Costs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:11am EST

What games cross over into traditional retailers like Target and Barnes and Noble? Mike and Geoff are joined by Andrew Lupp, National Sales Manager of PSI, to learn the ins and outs. Andrew works with big chains to help them decide which games will sell to the general public, and walks us through the process.

Duration: 1:18:15

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_113.mp3
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NEW CONTENT! Geoff interviews Vlad Niculae of Cornell about his recent research on predicting betrayal via written communications. The foundation of the study? An only repository of 300 Diplomacy games and all 150,000 messages they generated.

Vlad's new project is the online game StreetCrowd, which is also exploring communications and team dynamics.

Duration: 20:27

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_112_-_Betrayal.mp3
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Mike and Geoff select their top 10 entries from the Ludology contest, and reveal the winner!

Duration: 1:04:57

 

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_112.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek Geoff looks at memory, and how games work with or against it.

Duration: 06:10

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_111_-_Memory.mp3
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Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome pinball game designer Keith Johnson, designer of games such as Simpsons Pinball Party, Revenge From Mars, and Lord of the Rings.

What are the special design techniques used for designing a pinball game? How do you keep players engaged? How do you make the fixed physical layout feel different in different modes?

Duration: 01:05:40

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_111.mp3
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In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about luck and what increases or decreases it.

Duration: 06:13

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_110_-_Luck.mp3
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Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome guest Richard Borg to discuss the art of designing war games with mainstream appeal. Mr. Borg is the designer of the Command and Colors series of games, which includes Memoir 44 and Battlelore. What are the features of an entry-level wargame? How can you simplify but still capture the essence of a battle?

Duration: 56:06

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_110.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about making the player feel powerful. 

We also launch our part of the big Dice Tower Network contest!

Duration: 7:42

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_109_-_Power.mp3
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Mike and Geoff open up the mailbag and answer difficult and interesting listener questions!

Duration: 1:09:26

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_109.mp3
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In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at the debate that raged in the 1990's between Narratologists and Ludologists.

Duration: 05:59

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_108_-_Ludology_v_Narratology.mp3
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Geoff is pleased to welcome Scott Rogers, designer of video games such as Darksiders and God of War, and author of the books Level Up! and Swipe This!

The discussion centers around the concept of a 'level' as popularized in video games. Why is it such a popular way to organize games? What advantages does it give the designer? And what is the analog in the boardgame world?

Duration: 01:16:05

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_108.mp3
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In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at how a good analogy can dramatically simplify learning a game.

Duration: 06:00

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_107_-_Analogies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Mike and Geoff take a deep dive into the Antoine Bauza game Seven Wonders. What works? What doesn't? What drove the design decisions?

Duration: 01:16:26

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_107.mp3
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In this classic GameTek, Goeff talks about how innovative a game can really be.

Duration: 06:14

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_106_-_The_Rule_of_One.mp3
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Mike and Geoff welcome guest Emerson Matsuuchi, designer of Specter Ops and VOLT Robot Battle, to discuss hidden and programmed movement in games. Why use these techniques? What are good and bad examples?

Duration: 01:14:11

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_106.mp3
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In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses a game designed to explore the relationship between rules and morality. 

Duration: 6:15

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_105_-_Mice_and_Men.mp3
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Inspired by an article by Matt Thrower, Mike and Geoff talk about games that try to tackle controversial topics, and why there aren't more of them.

Duration: 1:05:35

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_105.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at what factors make a game 'mean'.

Duration: 06:18

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_104_-_Ways_and_Means.mp3
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Mike and Geoff are joined by guest Rich Sommer, host of the Cardboard! podast and star of stage and screen to discuss games receiving mainstream acceptance.  Is it good for the hobby to have games go mainstream? If so, what can designers, publishers, and hobbyists do to make that happen?

Duration: 01:05:09

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_104.mp3
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In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at an ancient text that lists games that will distract you from achieving enlightenment.

Duration: 06:18

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_103_-_Buddhas_Forbidden_Games.mp3
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Mike and Geoff dive deeper into the world of cards. What is a card? What tools do cards give the designer? What card games exhibit great depth?

Duration: 01:22:22

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_103.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at the way different types of noise mirror different random processes in games, and how these can be tuned for maximum player interest.

Duration: 06:24

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_102_-_Noise_Part_2.mp3
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Mike and Geoff are joined by Stronghold Games President Stephen Buonocore, to discuss the current state of the board game industry. Special guests may also pop in!

Duration: 01:20:18

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_102.mp3
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In this classic GameTek, Geoff explores the different types of noise.

Duration: 06:21

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_101_-_Noise_Part_1.mp3
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Geoff and new host Mike Fitzgerald talk about card games and why they are often treated as second-class citizens in the game world.

Duration: 01:07:00

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_101.mp3
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For their 100th episode, and Ryan's last, the guys take a look back at their favorite moments from the show.

Duration: 1:25:13

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_100.mp3
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In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the legacy of Allan Calhamer and his game, Diplomacy.

Duration: 07:02

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_99_-_Allan_Calhamer.mp3
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Ryan and Geoff talk about Gamification, the application of gaming techniques to real world tasks. Why do it? What are some good and bad examples?

Duration: 1:21:30

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_99.mp3
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In this ALL NEW GameTek, Geoff interviews Dr. Michael Bowling of the University of Alberta. Mike and his team put together computer hardware and software to 'solve' Heads-Up Limit Texas Hold'Em. So how does it work? And what does 'solve' really mean in a game with so much hidden information?

Duration: 38:00

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_98_-_Solving_Poker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:03pm EST

Ryan and Geoff are thrilled to welcome Richard Garfield, designer of Magic: The Gathering, Robo Rally, Netrunner, King of Tokyo and more, along with bonus guest Mike Fitzgerald, whose latest designs include Diamonds and Baseball Highlights: 2045.

We discuss Richard's design philosophy, the origins of Magic, types of gamers, and much more.

Please also visit our geeklist to share your memories of Ludology for our 100th episode spectacular!

Duration: 01:31:23

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_98.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:38am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at a curious incident at Johns Hopkins University.

Duration: 04:14

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_97_-_Rules_Lawyers.mp3
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Ryan and Geoff discuss heuristics, and the way they are used in games. How can designers shape a game's heuristics to increase both depth and accessibility?

Duration: 01:30:34

 

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_97.mp3
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In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the many instances of people cheating in chess tournaments.

Duration: 05:52

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_96_-_Chess_Cheating.mp3
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Ryan and Geoff revisit the topic of theme. Specifically how is theme expressed and integrated in games?

Duration: 01:26:58

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_96.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at how the physical aspects of a game can be designed to deter or prevent cheating.

Duration: 05:39

Direct download: GameTek_Classic_95_-_Game_Security.mp3
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Ryan and Geoff talk about their search for a publish for "Trading in the Mediterranean", and what the next steps are.

There is also an important announcement about the future of the show, so stick around until the end.

Duration: 1:03:10

Direct download: Ludology_Episode_95.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST