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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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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.


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.