Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode


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 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. Erica and Sen are happy to announce that Sarah Shipp of Shippboard Games and Stephanie Campbell of TTRPGKids will be joining us for the next year, providing additional content between our longer episodes.

Sarah's segment, Thinking Beyond Mechanisms, is a monthly feature that dives deeper into the other aspects of games beyond the dice and cards we're all familiar with.

Stephanie's segment, TTRPGKids, explores how parents and teachers can use role playing games with children in the home and in the classroom.

We hope you enjoy the additional content!

Our History

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 and Scott 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. Since then, Scott stepped down in 2022 and Gil will be hanging up his mic in 2023, leaving Erica and Sen to carry on this amazing legacy.

Erica and Sen are working to bring new voices to Ludology and have some great things to announce as gaming expands to include even more people!

Contact 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.

You can also email us at

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

If you have questions that you'd like answered on Ludology, let us know by filling out this Google Form; you can also leave an audio question that we can use on the show, if you wish! 

Burning Questions for Ludology

Burning Question

Support the Show

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

We currently have 3 "First Listen" series that will go out to Patrons well in advance of the audio being released to the wider audience.

  • The Memories that Made Us (monthly) - memories about gaming experiences that helped shape the people that bring modern games to life
  • Tales from the Designer Toolbox (monthly) - tips and tricks from industry pros learned from both success and failure
  • Ludology Live - recordings from conventions around the world

Patrons will also get extra consideration for any giveaways that we might have!

Become a Ludology Patron

Become a patron

You can also make a one-time or monthly donation here. The link will take you to Erica's account. People who donate in this way will not have access to the Patreon page - sorry!

Oct 18, 2020

Emma and Gil welcome Sen-Foong Lim back to the show to discuss the differences—and similarities—between board games and roleplaying games. We go through the perspectives of playing them, designing them, and examining the culture of play between both.

Sen originally appeared on Ludology 134: There's No "I" in Team with frequent co-designer Jay Cormier.


0m41s: Board games Sen has designed or co-designed: Junk Art, Belfort, D&D: Rock Paper Wizard. RPGs Sen has designed, co-designed, or written for: Jiang-Shi: Blood in the Banquet Hall, Kids on Bikes, The Curse of the House of Rookwood, North Sea Epilogues

3m39s: If the comparison between RPG and improv intrigues you, wait till you hear Ludology 237...

4m47s: An example of a crunchy old-school RPG: Traveller

5m10s: Chainmail was the game that D&D evolved from.

5m20s: While Gil agrees with Sen that encumbrance as implemented by a game like D&D tends to bog down gameplay, a nice counter-example is Torchbearer, a dungeon-crawling TTRPG in which encumbrance is a central mechanism.

7m44s: You can see one Emma's chats with Peter Adkison (who founded Wizards of the Coast and owns Gen Con) here.

11m34s: Sen is currently watching Black Sails.

12m31s: RPGs where your character is likely to die: Fiasco, Paranoia

17m55s: The RPG Masks: A New Generation.

19m14s: Gil and Sen's friend and beloved loudmouth Errol Elumir.

19m40s: This is literally Errol's first rule of escape room puzzle design.

20m36s: Critical Role (with GM Matt Mercer) is the most popular of the vibrant active play scene.

21m46s: The party game Cranium.

22m25s: Save Against Fear, a convention about gaming in therapy.

23m01s: Roll20 is an online platform for playing RPGs, as is Role. Tabletop Simulator can handle crunchy RPGs like D&D as well.

28m21s: Formula D (née Formula Dé)

30m00s: We had Mike Selinker on the show for Ludology 189: Missing Selinker.

31m13s: Sen's favorite D&D module, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks

31m30s: Star Frontiers

33m05s: You can hear more from Jiang-Shi co-designer Banana Chan on Ludology 228: The Roles We Play.

35m51s: Emma's storytelling games ...And Then We Died (...And Then We Held Hands is a different game)

45m02s: "Jay" is Jay Cormier, Sen's frequent collaborator. "Jesse" is game designer Jesse Wright.

45m30s: Jay and Sen's tabletop escape game Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion.

47m20s: The TV show Bob's Burgers.

48m50s: Itch is an online platform for digital games, but has a lot of downloadable PDFs for tabletop games. DriveThruRPG
offers PDFs and PODs of many RPGs.

50m12s: RPGs that Emma mentions: Burning Wheel, Paranoia, FATE Core System, Ryuutama, Over the Edge.

51m58s: For more about safety tools in RPGs, check out Ludology 227: Respect the X.

53m04s: You can access all these tools via the TTRPG Safety Kit.

56m05s: Gil's board game safety tool Check-In Cards.

1h07m06s: Board games that allow for relaxed conversation: Sagrada, Lotus.

1h08m27s: More about the semiotic function.

1h09m57s: Sen mentions psychologist Lev Vygotsky.

1h10m30s: Emma is a Mythic-tier Magic player!

1h11m55s: More info about the D&D Adventurers League.

1h14m13s: Jay and Graeme's game In the Hall of the Mountain King. Jay also created the Fail Faster playtesting notebook.

1h19m31s: Sen's web series, the Meeple Syrup Show, with Jessey Wright and Erica Hayes-Bouyouris. 

1h20m59s: Sen's licensed games: Batman: The Animated Series - Rogues Gallery, Legend of Korra: Pro-Bending Arena, and the Scooby Doo and D&D games mentioned above.

1h22m01s: The manga and anime My Hero Academia.

1h23m08s: Follow Sen on Twitter!