Board Games + iPhone = Something We’ll Definitely See More In The Future?

Reiner Knizia (famous German board game designer) said in one of his interviews that he believes that board games could very well work in various platforms – instead of need for a physical board. Now I’ve seen some board games like Ingenious (designed by Reiner Knizia) coming to iPhone.

Is it just my imagination, or is it so that more board games will be seen on iPhone?

Any thoughts? Anyone seen this happening too?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Marcin – I kind of feel the same… there’s just something thrilling in actually moving those pieces.I’ve played 3 hour risk game, and I’ve played 10 minute risk games (online). Online it is much faster… but is it better? Hard to say… but it certainly is different. Both have their purpose.

    golerga – haven’t seen any multiplayer games on iPhone. What tech is behind those games?

  2. Mathematical games, like chess, which can be translated to single-player experience without significant loss of value, sure will do great on iPhone. But more social, multiplayer games, which involve diplomacy, bluff and other personal interactions – I greatly doubt they are good for the platform.
    Of course, you can have multiplayer games on iPhone (in particular, I liked Zynga Texas HoldEm), but this can only be done only for the games with very short play sessions and easy game joining/leaving. If you have time to play Monopoly with 3 of your friends on an iPhone for full 30-60 minutes, I think you would choose some PC version or just meet each other at the table. And even poker isn’t really that fun when you’re not facing your enemy.

  3. I dunno about the iphone (don’t know many people with one) but I quite like the ability to play a lot of board games over the internet. It’s great for people in their 20s, too old to sit on the floor but don’t have a home of our own with lots of space to play that *isn’t* the floor. And some of us are busy and don’t live that close to our friends… we can play board games without any of these problems over the net. Pretty sweet deal for everyone but the board game companies.

  4. Hi There,

    We have recently launched an iPhone app of a family Board Game from the the late 80’s called ‘Dingbats’. Its was originally invented back in the day by my Father, Paul Sellers and was ‘Toy of the Year’ in 1987, and ‘Game of the year’ in the USA under the name ‘Whatzit?’.

    This is our first app, and has been developed by ourselves consisting of a small family team of about 5 people.

    It is the first gaming platform that we felt directly suited the mechanic of the original game. We have retained the main elements of the card based gameplay and having to answer the puzzles in a given time.

    It is doing quite well in the UK and is currently No.5 in Word Games, and No.20 in Board Games in the UK app Store, but yet to do much elsewhere.

    check it out on http://dingbats.net, I would love to get your feedback.


    Rus Sellers

  5. I love Ticket to Ride both as a physical edition board game and the digital edition on Xbox Live Arcade. They serve different purposes since the latter has AI players and network multiplayer. When friends visit the physical edition gets the vote of course.

  6. @Marcin: I agree. The real world feeling of board games shouldn’t not be replaced by virtuality.

    Instead iPhones and other mobile devices could be used as extensions for board games. E.g. managing character sheets, handling complex computations, playing sounds for specific actions like opening chests, etc.

    It’s a rather old idea to combine board games with video games. A nearly 30 year old example is “The Quest for The Rings” (http://bit.ly/8YEagn, video http://bit.ly/6x92N1 starting at 4:20).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if such stuff is already in the making (again).

  7. It seems there are many “better” games than board games nowadays. You get real-time strategies, first-person shooters, and the like.

    But on the other hand – there’s something in board games that can’t and won’t ever be reproduced in any other media. There’s absolutely nothing like feeling the pieces you’re playing with, there’s nothing like rolling the dice or placing your counters on the board or whatever you play with. It’s about people having a need to possess something physical, something that they can touch, something that they can feel is “theirs” when playing a game.

    Board games should be left alone as they are – made with paper, wood, metal and sometimes plastic, not bits and bytes.

  8. I think it’s pretty reasonable to expect. Having said that, it does pose some significant UI challenges. I’ve not played Ingenious yet but I’ve tried Catan on the iPhone and it’s not a great experience. I mean, they’ve done a pretty good job of capturing the gameplay, but the UI in a mobile context is a bit rough.

    Somewhat related: just seen that the old Fighting Fantasy CYOA style games are popping up on the iPhone and they translate rather well.

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