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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 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!

May 2, 2021

Emma and Gil welcome returning guest Eric Zimmerman, who last appeared on the show on Episode 79 to discuss the magic circle in gaming.

This time, Eric discusses his idea of the 21st century being a "ludic century," and what makes games especially important today. We also discuss how games' powers can be used for evil, if tabletop games can become more environmentally sustainable, and see if there can be an equivalent to farmers' markets or slow food in tabletop game.


1m26s: Eric's previous tabletop games: Quantum, The Metagame (with Colleen Macklin and John Sharp). He also mentions Gamelab, Diner Dash, Sissyfight, Dear Reader, NYU Game Center (where Gil and Geoff are also adjuncts), and Rules of Play.

Eric also mentions his large-scale art installation games that he's done with his partner Nathalie Pozzi. Here are a few of them: Interference, Starry Heavens, and Waiting Rooms.

5m34s: Here is Eric's original Ludic Century essay/manifesto, published in 2013.

16m27s: More info about Bernie De Koven and his influential book The Well-Played Game.

18m13s: More info about the slimy practice of gerrymandering. Eric also mentions the board game El Grande.

21m45s: More info about systemic racism.

24m17s: More info about Ultimate, also known as Ultimate Frisbee.

25m53s: One thing to note here is that impartial referees in sports are a relatively recent development. In the mid-19th century, both baseball and association football (soccer) originally had each team bring their own umpire, who would attempt to agree on calls. Back then, umpires did not make calls proactively; players had to appeal to the umpire in order to get a decision. 

This changed as teams got more competitive and team-based umpires failed to be impartial. Both sports brought in a neutral referee who could resolve disputes between the umpires; baseball in 1857, soccer in 1881. Eventually, the team-based umpires were dropped entirely, with soccer keeping the single referee (though they eventually added two linesmen to help make calls) and baseball renaming the referee back to "umpire" and adding three additional umpires to handle calls at each base.

(Sources: Strike Four: The Evolution of Baseball, Richard Hershberger, and The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer, David Goldblatt.)

30m52s: Jane McGonigal's book Reality is Broken.

36m34s: The influential behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner.

48m32s: Cheapass Games has made many of their older "envelope" games available as print-and-play downloads.

49m00s: The gone-and-gladly-forgotten CD longbox.

50m15s: The Zoomable game RATS: High Tea at Sea by Eric and Josh DeBonis. 

55m42s: More information about the environmental concerns around cryptocurrency.

1h03m10s: Slow Food is an organization related to the slow movement that pushes back against the fast pace of modern life.

1h09m35s: The game Gil mentions is Avatar Stalker, from the folks at Project Avatar. He also mentions The Nest, which was first mentioned on the show by Hayley Cooper of Strange Bird Immersive on Ludology 214 - Escape from Reality.

1h12m27s: Eric mentions the artists Alex Katz and Kara Walker.

1h15m55s: Eric’s website, the NYU Game Center, and Eric's partner Nathalie Pozzi.