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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 currently in search of content creators for these 5-15 minute slots, so please reach out if you have ideas!

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.

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Jan 24, 2021

Emma, Gil, and Scott discuss winning in games. What defines winning in a game, and what are the different ways games can handle it?

Also, Emma shares a Big Announcement with us.


2m44s: Type 1 - One winner, everyone else loses: Catan, Terra Mystica, Terraforming Mars

3m47s: Type 1a - Conditional win: Dune, Red November, Mission Catastrophe, Glory to Rome

6m48s: Vast, COIN (Counter-Insurgency) games

6m56s: Type 2 - One loser, everyone else wins: Jenga, Cockroach Poker, Kackel Dackel (which Gil mispronounced, and which was published in the US as Doggie Doo), Don't Wake Daddy, Bimbado/Packesel/The Last Straw (the game mentioned about loading a donkey), Pie Face, Perfection. The balloon game Scott describes is likely Bumm Bumm Ballon, known in the US as Boom Boom Balloon.

8m40s: Gil is using the term "atom" here as defined in the book Characteristics of Games, defined as "satisfying chunks of play shorter than a full game."

9m09s: Type 3 - Co-op games: Pandemic, Lord of the Rings, the Forbidden games, Quirky Circuits

10m15s: CO2

12m05s: We discuss meaning in games, beyond simple "fun," in Ludology 201 - Are We Having Fun Yet?

12m30s: This War of Mine

12m43s: Type 4 - Semi-coop games: Hellapagos, We're Doomed

13m52s: Coup, Werewolf/Mafia

14m41s: The Resistance, Werewolf, Codenames

15m17s: Type 4a - "Variable Coopability" (thanks Emma!) - Dead of Winter, Who Goes There

15m42s: Geoff discussed this in GameTek Classic 129 - Semi Coop Tournaments.

17m06s: Type 5 - Individual wins/losses

18m38s: Fog of Love. You can hear more from Fog of Love designer Jacob Jaskov in Ludology 194 - Lifting the Fog.

19m52s: The Crossroads mechanism forces players to make choices related to the narrative of the game, and delivers consequences based on those choices. Note that Gil is using "Crossroads" casually here, as only Plaid Hat Games can officially release Crossroads games.

20m46s: Emma's storytelling game ...and then we died.

21m08s: Type 6 - Improvement/Personal Best: Scrabble, Bupkis

23m14s: The Board Game Stats app, Fantasy Realms

24m02s: Cribbage

24m42s: More info about the Donkey Kong high score competition. The board game Take it Easy.

29m00s: Bennett Foddy's GDC talk Making It Matter, where he discusses how eSports can emulate real sports. Also, Gil's communication tool for board games, Check-In Cards.

32m13s: Geoff and Mike discussed legacy games with Matt Leacock in Ludology 121 - Pandemonium.

33m16s: Type 7 - Personal Experience. The chess-themed TV drama The Queen's Gambit.

43m55s: King Me, Cole Wehrle's GDC talk on kingmaking. Also, Cole's game Root. Cole is a friend of the show and has been on a couple of times, most recently on Ludology 222 - Johnny Fairplay.

48m06s: T.I.M.E Stories

54m28s: Another shout-out for Characteristics of Games. Here's Gil's Game Design 101 talk.

57m56s: The board games Dungeonquest and Kingdom Death: Monster. The video games Super Meat Boy and Dark Souls.

59m37s: The video game Hades.

1h03m52s: Check out Errol Elumir's 13 Rules for Escape Room Puzzle Design.

1h05m44s: Scott's book Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design.

1h06m54s: Betrayal: Legacy

1h07m54s: The video game Among Us, and the board games Nemesis and Zombicide.

1h10m23s: You can hear more about player psychographic profiles in Ludology 165 - Fowerian Slip.