Electronic Game Boards

Brenda Cass

Video games bring the convenience of on-the-spot game play coupled with sexy visual effects and preparation-free automation. Wouldn’t it be great if tabletop games could be just as sexy and convenient? ( Pictured on the author’s own electronic gameboard is Peeslag the obese Antipaladin, from Armorcast’s line of Nuisances miniatures, as painted by Enrico Nardini. )

The Digitally Integrated Tabletop project (Digital Tabletop for short) aims to do just that. The project, currently in development by this author, is being designed to deliver a tabletop gaming experience that is both more visually appealing and more convenient. I hope to make tabletop gaming a more accessible and enjoyable experience for all varieties of players, without hindering the creativity that is at the heart of tabletop
gaming’s greatness. 

Now, there are already a whole slew of applications out there whose entire purpose is to streamline and manage some of the more cumbersome aspects of tabletop gaming. The problem I have always had with them as a GM is that it is very easy to get lost in all of your trackers and generators to the point where you are spending more time staring at a computer screen than interacting with your players.

The Digital Tabletop differs in that it is designed to be just as convenient and useful to players as it is to GMs. The Digital Tabletop will track the location of miniatures and place status information such as health points, spell effects, or temporary bonuses next to a miniature so that GM and players alike know exactly what is going on. Game mechanics with an area-of-effect will be visually represented so that everyone knows exactly what is going to be affected. Lingering spell effects will show up as visual effects, so when your player casts that Wall of Fire spell you do not have to break out that red pencil to represent it, you can represent it with an honest-to-goodness wall of fire!

And when miniatures are moved, their paths will be shown on the map and information on how far they can be moved will be displayed. No more breaking out rulers or counting grid squares! 

So enough about what the Digital Tabletop does and more about how it is going to do it. If you are thinking that with a name like “Digital Tabletop” the project must involve some expensive and obscure hardware, you are in for a pleasant