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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 Emma Larkins and Gil Hova (sometimes with Professor Scott Rogers) deep-dive into a single topic within game design, often with a well-regarded guest from the game industry. We generally focus on board game design, but we often pull in experts from all forms of games, from video games 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.

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 emma@ludology.net.

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

Jun 28, 2020

Emma and Gil welcome Banana Chan: game writer, larp/RPG designer, board game publisher, horror movie buff, and pop-up museum aficionado. We talk about writing for all kinds of games, how game mechanisms support intense experiences in larp and RPG, the effects of emancipatory bleed, and the effect of moving roleplay online.

Content warning: we discuss games with intense themes, like human sacrifice.

4m29s: The Spire RPG 

5m59s: The Circle is a reality show in which contestants are isolated in their homes and can only communicate with others via a text-based app. They're free to adopt any persona they wish. You can watch the first episode of the American reboot here.

6m27s: Pork roll vs. Taylor ham (two names for the same kind of processed meat) is a long-running debate in the Garden State. 

7m01s: Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit, a legendary play with a classic twist.

9m03s: The RPGs This Discord Has Ghosts In It and Long Time Listener, Last Time Caller 

10m06s: For those of you just joining Ludology, welcome, and we just covered safety tools in Ludology 227 - Respect the X.

11m27s: To make it clear, bleed is a general term to describe a phenomenon (occurring mainly in larp) where a character's emotions and identity start mixing into a player's emotions and identity, and vice versa. It can be extremely intense, and larps usually feature necessary wrap-up sessions where players can talk out feelings that the game brought up. Here is an article with a couple of excellent examples of bleed. Jonaya Kemper, who Banana mentions, has written about emancipatory bleed here. Read more about Kemper and her work here.

11m59s: Here's Albert Kong's tweet about emancipatory bleed.

12m21s: More info about the Baphomet larp.

17m29s: Diplomacy is a game that's long-established for challenging friendships.

18m41s: Banana's new RPG, Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall, co-designed with Sen-Foong Lim

22m44s: Warp's Edge

24m51s: Angelus Morningstar has a good write-up on cultural appropriation in board games here. (Also, when Gil says "I wish this is something more board games would do," he means "hire cultural sensitivity readers.")

29m07s: They're Onto Me. The Golden Cobra Challenge is a contest for freeform larp. 

31m06s: Dads on Mowers, a module for the RPG Kids on Bikes.

31m57s: Cobwebs RPG.

32m19s: Alice is Missing RPG.

32m37s: Banana is talking about an episode of the TV series Masters of Horror. This particular episode (which Gil and Emma will never watch) is called "John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns." 

33m53s: Betrayal at Mystery Mansion is a re-implementation of Betrayal at House on the Hill, but with a Scooby-Doo theme.

35m58s: As We Know It.

37m32s: Roll20 is a website that facilitates online RPG play. Discord is an online text/voice chat program for gamers.

38m48s: By "corpse," Gil is referring to the surrealist writing exercise Exquisite Corpse.

41m39s: Banana's dinner party films: The Invitation, Get Out, Coherence. She also mentions Midsommar.

42m28s: Here's the article Gil mentions that describes the benefits of experiencing a horror movie entirely from its Wikipedia page.

43m02s: Here's Avery Alder's body horror RPG, Abnormal.

44m08s: The Park Avenue Armory, one of Gil's favorite places in NYC. Banana discusses The Funhouse in Toronto, which is now closed.

46m05s: The mangaka Junji Ito.

46m58s: Battle of the Boy Bands, a game by Clio Yun-su Davis and Vicci Ho that Banana published under the Game and a Curry label. Enjoy some music from Stray Kids and BTS.

50m05s: Night Witches, by Jason Morningstar. We had Jason on in Ludology 161 What's the Story, Morning Glory? Banana also mentions his game Juggernaut.

50m52s: Avery Alder's Monsterhearts.

51m25s: Here's the moment in the video Gil was mentioning. Alex Roberts, who plays the ghost, is the designer of the award-winning RPG Star Crossed.

52m13: Gil is referring to Ludology 226 - Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo, in which Dr. Mary Flanagan discussed how psychological distance helps people better associate with a subject.

53m39s: If you're interested in Goat-2-Meeting, here are the details.

56m44s: The designers Banana mentions are: Jabari Weathers, Jonaya Kemper (mentioned above), and Fertessa Allyse.