Going Digital... Some More! - Inside Up Games
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Going Digital… Some More!

Going Digital… Some More!

Throughout the last few months, I have talked about gaming on virtual platforms quite a bit. How could I not? It’s become a major part of the board gaming hobby since the outbreak of the Novel Covid-19 pandemic. There are plenty of solutions out there (of which I will not be discussing here, but can be found in my other blogs), but I had a very specific problem that many of the options out there don’t address.

In my day job, I work at a university in Housing and Residence Life. One of my roles includes building community in one of our Residence Halls. Typically, one of the ways I do this is through a weekly game night. As you can imagine, having 8-10 university students in the same room passing cards and components around the table is not the wisest idea, especially on a college campus. For a while, I just assumed I would cancel the weekly event entirely, but then I began breaking down the problem in search of a potential solution.

As I continued to contemplate the issue, I realized the largest barrier to entry would how difficult it would be to participate. Something like Tabletopia or Tabletop Simulator would demand too much. Not only would I need to convince everyone to download/utilize the app (or even pay for it with TTS), but I would also have to convince them to learn how to use it. Thinking realistically, this would drastically reduce the number of students willing to participate, which is the last thing I wanted to do.

Along with the technology required to facilitate a game, another barrier to entry would be the difficulty of learning a new game. To be successful, the game really needs to be no longer than a 10 minute teach. I certainly could set everything up to play Zombicide with my camera setup through OBS (if you curious about what I am talking about here, I outline it in a previous blog), but it’s just going to take too much too learn for the students I have that aren’t really engaged in the hobby.  Something that complex would just be too much for the group I am facilitating not to mention the 2-3 hours it takes to play being a bit on the long side for most participants. That said, the camera rig would definitely be a good option, but what game would work?

Hands of cards are difficult to manage on a virtual system if the players don’t have a copy of the game themselves, so that ruled out a ton of games. Competitive games are often difficult to monitor in a virtual setting because it is difficult to see what everyone is doing, so it would have to be cooperative. While these restrictions look daunting to overcome, sometime knowing everything you can’t have makes finding you can have much easier to find. In this case, I was led to two games: Similo and Just One.

Both games are cooperative, have short rule sets, and do not require a hand of cards to play. This week we are going to be trying Similo, and I think it will work really well for a digital implementation. In Similo, one player draws a card and looks at it. This is the card they will be giving clues for. Then that same player draws 11 more cards and shuffles their card into it making a deck of 12 cards. These cards are then laid out in a 3 X 4 or a 4 X 3 grid. Each card has a beautifully illustrated character and the goal of the game is to have the other players guess what card the lead player drew and looked at. This is completed in a series of rounds.

In the first round, the lead player will draw five cards and play one down next to the 3 X 4 grid. If the lead player lays the card down sideways, the lead player is indicating that the character the team is looking for is not like the character that was played. If the lead player plays the card straight up and down, they are indicating that their card is somehow like the character they just played.

Players discuss the possibilities and make a choice to eliminate one of the available options. If correct, they proceed to the next round where the lead player draws back up to 5 cards and repeats the process. This time the group will need to eliminate two cards, then three cards in the following round, and then four cards in the round after that. If they are still in the game after the fourth round, they will have two cards left. The lead player gives one more clue and the team makes one final elimination in hopes of leaving the lead players card in play. If they do successfully, everybody wins!

While I have yet to play this one, the idea of the game drew me in immediately. Additionally, this will work perfect for a virtual format! It’s super easy to play, encourages conversation, and the cherry on top is the absolutely stunning artwork. I’ll report back after playing, but this one looks like a winner in my book.

Do you have any suggestions for games that could also be played relatively easily given the format I need? To keep this program running, I will definitely need to add new content to the mix and would love to hear other ideas!

As always, thanks for reading and keep on gaming,

Matt Pioch

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