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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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Nov 1, 2020

Emma and Gil welcome Karen Twelves, whose straddling of the worlds of gaming and improv led her to write the book Improv for Gamers. What can gaming and improv learn from each other?

Content warning: this episode contains brief references to non-consensual touching and racism.


01m16s: AD&D is Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, the form of D&D most prominent in the 80s and 90s.

02m43s: A kinesthetic learner is one who learns through physical activity. We discussed kinesthetic learning and games (among other things) with Chidi Paige in Ludology 231 - STEAM Engine.

03m35s: Whose Line Is It Anyway? was a British radio show that became a British television show that became an American television show. In the show, four improvisers run through several short-form improv games.

08m25s: The Harold is a structure used in long-form improv. 

09m31s: Del Close was a fundamental figure in the world of improv, creating many techniques and co-writing the book Truth in Comedy. Note that Gil misattributed the name of the Harold to Close. While Close helped develop and publicize the technique, improv actor and musician Bill Mathleu is credited with naming it.

12m33s: Kingmaker is an Adventure Path for the RPG Pathfinder.

12m48s: Most recently, we discussed failure in games with Sen-Foong Lim in our previous episode, Ludology 236 - Roll With It.

15m32s: LEEROY JENKINS (note explicit language in link)

31m00s: The story RPG Fiasco. We had designer Jason Morningstar on Ludology 161 - What's the Story, Morning Glory?

40m55s: The board games Karen mentions are Splendor, Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert, and Pandemic.

50m58s: Alex Roberts, designer of Star Crossed and For the Queen.

52m50s: The TV show Taskmaster. Wouldn’t Alex Horne be a great Ludology guest?

58m30s: “No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful/Everyone dies twisted inside and that is beautiful”

1h01m03s: Burning Wheel, Pathfinder, Fiasco, Monsterhearts

1h02m22s: Archipelago

1h12m03s: Then She Fell, Sleep No More

1h12m57s: Gil is referring to Ludology 214 - Escape From Reality, with Hayley E.R. Cooper and Cameron Cooper.

1h13m32s: Palace Games in San Francisco. Their in-person experience is temporarily closed for the pandemic, but like many escape rooms, they are currently running virtual games.

1h15m11s: Here's Karen's current ongoing Thing & Thing Twitter thread.

1h18m18s: Karen’s Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok. Here are her websites:,, and