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yo kids, boardgames are cool again

Here’s the splendid boardgame Settlers of Catan running on Microsoft’s potentially splendid Surface tech. Surface is touchscreen-mega-PC theoretical fun, but more likely to be built into tables in public spaces than to be something you hook up to your own device. Here’s how it could work for social videogaming (in the traditional sense of social, not the FarmVille sense). I’m fighting my overwhelming urge to grumble “but why don’t they just play the boardgame? It must be far cheaper” – because I suspect that’s very much missing the point.

Technically remarkable, definitely, and I love the idea that it could lead to boardgaming parlours if it took off. A place for men to gather and game, as they did in the arcades of their youth, but no longer having to worry that they couldn’t pull off the Dragon Punch.

I’d be lying if I said I’d rather have ‘tagged visors’ than cute little wooden houses, though. If this tech does make it to the home I suppose it’s an easy, space-saving way of having a massive boardgame collection: the Kindle of boardgames, even. I don’t think it’s as inherently exciting a prospect as the other Surface gaming demo we’ve seen, though – bringing touch-feely visuals to D&D. That’s where it’s adding something, rather than simply replacing it, as is the case with this otherwise highly impressive Catan demo.

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Who am I?

Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about videogames.

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