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Welcome to Ludology, an analytical discussion of the hows and whys 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.

We post a new Ludology episode every other week. In these episodes, hosts Erica Bouyouris, Gil Hova, Scott Rogers, and Sen-Foong Lim deep-dive into a single topic within game design, often with a well-regarded guest from the game industry. We generally focus on tabletop game design (mainly board games and RPGs), but we often pull in experts from all forms of games, from video games to escape rooms to slot machines.

On weeks where there is no flagship Ludology episode, we will alternate between two smaller mini-sodes.

GameTek is a long-running feature from the Dice Tower podcast by Ludology co-founder Geoff Engelstein that explores the math and science behind games.  GameTek Classic episodes were once broadcast on The Dice Tower podcast, while other GameTek episodes were recorded specially for Ludology.

Biography of a Board Game is a series hosted by Scott Rogers that explores the history behind classic and modern board games. It was once on The Dice Tower, but has since moved full-time to Ludology.

We aim for most Ludology episodes to be timeless, so you are welcome to explore our entire catalog. Most of it should age quite well. The podcast was started in 2011 by Geoff Engelstein and Ryan Sturm, with Mike Fitzgerald taking over for Ryan in 2015. Gil joined the show in 2017 when Mike stepped aside, and Emma joined in 2019 when Geoff ended his tenure as host. Emma left in 2021, and Erica and Sen joined us.

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.

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

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Make a one-time donation here. The donation will take you to "Bedbug Comics" - that's Scott's account.

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

Jun 14, 2020

Emma and Gil moderate a roundtable on safety tools in games, with guests Kienna Shaw and Lauren Bryant-Monk (creators of the TTRPG Safety Toolkit) and John Stavropoulos (creator of the X-Card). 

We discuss consent and safety in games, starting with tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs), but expanding to all sorts of games. How can safety tools help in games, and in what ways do they help?

Content Warning: this episode mentions occurences of consent violations, domestic abuse, and sexual assault.


23m25s - The D&D Adventurers League is an official ongoing play, organized by D&D's publisher Wizards of the Coast.

32m29s - Kids on Bikes, by Jon Gilmour and Doug Levandowski.

33m17s - Avonelle Wing is a longtime RPG/LARP player, convention organizer, and advocate for equality and justice for games. She's one of Gil's idols.

34m11s - Kate Bullock is a TTRPG designer, advocate, writer, and president of the Indie Game Developer Network.

39m58s - Nordic LARP is a form of LARP with minimal rules and GMing, but heavy atmosphere and story. Compare it to demonstrative (boffer) LARPs, which tend to be more fantastical and have NPCs and combat rules.

43m20s - An otome game is a story-based video game that generally has the player control a female character, to try to develop a relationship with one of the game's male characters.

46m10s - Here's an especially horrifying story about an awful GM that came out of UKGE last year (BIG CONTENT WARNING for sexual assault in that link). Note that this is one story, but there are many more that never get this much coverage. The story about the public live stream that went wrong is here, and carries a similar content warning.

52m07s - You didn't think we were going to go a full episode without bringing board games into it, did you? :)

1h00m26s - Self-Promotion: you can find more info about Gil's Check-In Cards here.

1h00m57s - Twilight Imperium being a 6 hour game about galactic conquest.

1h06m58s - Psychologist Susan Silk and her friend Barry Goldman wrote about this in the LA times. They called it "Ring Theory," and in it, they discuss how you can comfort a grieving person while not burdening them with your own pain, by placing them in the "center" of the crisis and being mindful of where you are relative to others in that ring.

1h10m03s - Restorative justice is a methodology that has the victim and offender meeting (often with community members), with the expectation that the two parties will come to a consensus on what happened, how much damage was caused, and how the damage can be repaired. This gives the offender a clear path to righting the wrong, and empowers the victim in the process of seeking justice.