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Good Listening -- Bridging the Digital Divide, Ludology and Golem Arcana

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There Will Be Games

For years I've been commenting that there is fertile ground in the fields between the kingdoms of tabletop and video gaming, generally getting responses on the line of "sounds like stupid bullshit" and the like.  I have yet on any web site to get any sort of positive response or endorsements for the concept, I think largely because my thoughts were not fully-formed or even fully-INformed.  But the idea that a game could benefit from a larger, longer storyline that could effect gameplay from session to session (much on the line of Risk Legacy though on a grander scale) seemed like a place where someone should be working, and there just hasn't been much news on the subject.

Until yesterday, when Ludology (published by F:At alum Geoff Englestein) published a long and detailed interview with Jordan Weisman, designer of Golem Arcana, a game that works right to this part of the market.  Frankly, it's apparent that Weisman has done a tremendous amount of R&D on the effort and worked it deep into the DNA of his new effort in ways that far exceed anything I had considered on the subject.  As far as I'm concerned this is must-listen material for anyone considering the future of tabletop gaming.

Weisman is a seasoned vet with about as big a set of bonafides as you're going to get in the tabletop battle genre.  Battletech, Heroclix, Crimson Skies, and now Golem Arcana added to the list, released just a few short weeks ago that incorporates both a video screen to aid in rules enforcement and rapid play plus a legit tabletop game with miniatures whose bases indicate battle options and stats and carry ID markers to provide positioning and state information to the electronic part of the system.  But more than those short-term capabilities, gameplay changes depending on when and where your pieces are in a greater storyline, executing grand campaigns that you get to be part of amongst your friends or people online.  Weisman's goal is to keep the game on the table amongst friends, but still available for the larger scale of the Internet.

I'll be honest -- I can't do the interview justice due to its length and the complexity of some of the concepts described, so I'm going to leave it at this and recommend that you take the time to download episode 89 here -- http://www.ludology.libsyn.com/ and listen.  Mr. Weisman deserves credit for taking gaming into a new part of the spectrum, and Mr. Englestein and his wingman Mr. Sturm deserve credit as well for getting this interview onto the web.  I hadn't seen (nor even heard of) Golem Arcana prior to pressing the play button on this, but it seems to me that regardless of its reception the game is going to have an effect on the industry, simply due to its scope of design.



There Will Be Games
John "Sagrilarus" Edwards (He/Him)
Associate Writer

John aka Sagrilarus is an old boardgame player. He has no qualifications to write on the subject, and will issue a stern denial of his articles' contents on short notice if pressed.

Articles by Sagrilarus

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