The Interaction Design Lab is proud to announce that Dr Melissa Rogerson has recently been awarded a ‘Game in Lab’ research grant for her project, ‘Examining the “Digital” in Hybrid Digital Boardgames’. The Game in Lab research program, launched in 2018, supports the development of academic inquiry that champions the societal value of boardgames. Melissa’s project will be the first study to explicitly examine the current functions of digital technology in commercial boardgames.
Over the past few years, traditional boardgames have progressively implemented a variety of technologically-supported features in their gameplay. App-supported games like Alchemists, The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth or the Unlock! series have garnered critical praise for their innovative means of uniting a physical boardgame with a digital companion app on a smartphone or other device.
For example, in the case of Matúš Kotry’s 2014 game Alchemists, the player takes on the role of one of the titular alchemist, tasked with making discoveries from a range of ingredients. To advance the game, the player can choose to continue to experiment with their ingredients, or publish their theories and earn grants. A free app, downloadable to the player’s smart device, is used as an ‘ingredient card reader’ to provide further information around the magical properties and combinations of ingredients used. Each player is also given their own associated physical game pieces and game boards. This type of collaborative play – between physical and digital boardgame practices – is what Melissa has been investigating as the emergence of the “hybrid” digital boardgame.
The broader aims of this project include identifying and categorising the functions of digital components of “hybrid” digital boardgames, drawing attention to their interesting or novel gameplay practices. The research will also explore existing attitudes towards hybrid games in participants across the boardgame industry, from players to industry leaders.
A/Prof. Martin Gibbs, who has researched games since 2013, is also on the project team. Together, Martin and Melissa have been studying various aspects of the gameplay experiences of boardgames – as well as other tabletop games.
With the support of the ‘Game in Lab’ research grant, Melissa’s research will continue to explore these enquiries in the coming years, continuing to strengthen insights into the emergent field of “hybrid” digital boardgames research.