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

Jan 26, 2020

Legendary Interactive Fiction writer Andrew Plotkin joins Gil and Emma to talk about text-based stories that players can participate in. We explore the form's history and unique strengths, and discuss what good writing can bring to a game's experience.

Interactive Fiction platforms mentioned in this episode:

Check out some of Andrew's IF work:

  • Shade
  • Spider & Web
  • Hadean Lands

Other video games mentioned in this episode:

  • Colossal Cave Adventure
  • Zork
  • Donut County
  • 80 Days
  • Heaven's Vault
  • Galatea
  • AI Dungeon
  • No Man's Sky

Board games and analog IF mentioned in this episode:

  • Werewolf
  • 7th Continent
  • 1,001 Odysseys
  • Choose Your Own Adventure™ books
  • Meanwhile
  • Fighting Fantasy books
  • Leanna Fled the Cranberry Bog

If you would like to explore the world of IF, a good place to start is the Interactive Fiction Database - it's like the BGG of IF!

Some good games to start with (this is hardly an authoritative list):

  • 9:05 - You can easily play this in one sitting, and in most cases, you will want to immediately play again when you finish it the first time.
  • Photopia - This is a spectacularly well-written game, but it can bring up some intense emotions.
  • The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo - A fun horror game.
  • Howling Dogs - This is a work by Porpentine, whom Gil has raved about several times on the show and this episode. Be sure to find both endings.
  • Counterfeit Monkey - A fairly long game by Emily Short built around some remarkably brilliant word-manipulation mechanisms. You will likely need to use an emulator if you want to save your game and use the game's graphical map.

Enjoy exploring the IF rabbit hole!