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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 tabletop game design (mainly board games and RPGs), 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.

Apr 4, 2021

Emma and Gil sit down with James Mendez Hodes to discuss his work as a cultural consultant, and the series of "orcticles" he wrote describing how the depiction of orcs in fantasy games can bring up problematic real-world stereotypes.

CONTENT WARNING: This episode includes many references to racism and a section discussing sexual assault.

SHOW NOTES

01m55s: Orcus, a god of the underworld.

04m29s: J.R.R. Tolkien's Urak-hai, the strongest kind of Orc in Middle Earth.

27m49s: The Marathi people from India. We also get into the thorny, complicated, and vitally-important subject of intersectionality.

32m57s: Here is the Adam Ruins Everything episode on the "model minority" myth.

34m30s: Gil meant the "domino theory," a Cold War idea that suggested that one country that became communist would inevitably make its neighbors, and those neighbors, communist as well.

38m04s: More information about James Baldwin's writings on race.

45m19s: We had John talking safety tools on Ludology 227 - Respect the X.

53m03s: Edward Said’s Orientalism is an important analysis of how a group of colonizing nations perceive the nations they colonize.

57m56s: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 

1h06m28s: Here is the comic Gil and Mendez are talking about, as well as the Sam Sykes tweet that inspired it.

1h11m43s: Here's another link to Jiangsi: Blood in the Banquet Hall (which seems to come up every episode!). We spoke with Banana in Ludology 228 - The Roles We Play, and Sen most recently in Ludology 236 - Role With It. Of course, you will hear a lot more from Sen soon on this very show!

We also mention the RPG Agon.

1h14m43s: Blaise Pascal first expressed the sentiment in his 16th Letter from his lettres provinciales: "Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte." Mark Twain wrote out a similar thought two centuries later: "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."

1h19m08s: More information about Maria Dahvana Headley's modern-day vernacular translation of Beowulf. Also, Eric Zimmerman's plea to keep games away from art, because in his words, "enshrining something as art is death."

1h22m47s: Mendez' website, Twitter, and Patreon.