Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: board game from The Macquarie Dictionary

a game played on a special board marked up according to the rules of the particular game, as snakes and ladders, ludo, chess, etc.


Summary Article: board games from Encyclopedia of Video Games: The Culture, Technology, and Art of Gaming

Board games extend back into ancient times and have been found buried in Egyptian tombs. They generally consist of some small physical playing field or surface (the “board”) with pieces that players move from one position to another, usually in competition to complete some goal, such as getting to some location first, the capture of other player's pieces, or the completion of some strategic configuration, all according to some set of rules that players agree to follow. Many aspects of board games appear in video games as well, including the idea of a playing field, avatars, rules, goals, turn-taking, win-lose conditions, points and scoring, the importance of relative positioning, and more. Several board game companies like Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers also produced video games and occasionally even game consoles (like the GCE/Milton Bradley Vectrex).

The most common link between board games and video games are video game adaptations of board games, like those produced for public domain games like chess, checkers, and Go, or copyrighted games like Monopoly or Scrabble. Computer chess programs have even been used as a means of benchmarking computer performance (the first chess-playing computer program was written in 1950). Early examples of commercial adaptations of board games include the Atari VCS 2600 games Video Chess (1979), Othello (1980), and Video Checkers (1980).

Board games and video games have often influenced each other's designs. First, there are hybrid games, video games that were combined with board game materials in some way. The first home video game system, the Magnavox Odyssey, used board game supplies along with some of its games, including dice, poker chips, paper money, and score sheets. Three games for the Philips Videopac video game system, Conquest of the World (1982), Quest for the Rings (1982), and The Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt (1982), all involved on-screen video game play as well as a game board with movers, combining video game play and board game play. Second, some video games are designed like board games, even though they are not adaptations of existing board games; for example, the arcade game Ataxx (1990), the home computer game Hexxagoµn (1993), or Mario Party (1998). Finally, several board games were based on video games, including Pac-Man Game (1982), Super Xevious (1985), Myst: The Puzzling New Board Game Adventure (1998), and StarCraft: The Board Game (2007).

A number of board games have used video as an element of the game, first on videotape and later on DVD, such as the Clue DVD Game (2006) or The Lord of the Rings DVD Trivial Pursuit (2004). Despite the use of interactive video, these games would not be considered video games by most definitions because the player's pieces move around on the physical board rather than on-screen.

Further Reading
  • Berlinger, Yehuda. “A Guide to Board Games and Card Games Based on Video Games,” 2008, available at http://jergames.blogspot.com/2008/01/guide-to-board-and-card-games-based-on.html.
  • Mark J. P. Wolf
    Copyright 2012 by Mark J. P. Wolf

    Related Credo Articles

    Full text Article
    Games, Pharaonic Egypt
    The Encyclopedia of Ancient History

    Games and game-playing were popular activities of adults and children in ancient Egypt. Children played with dolls, movable figurines, and wheeled t

    Full text Article
    Games, Greek and Roman
    The Encyclopedia of Ancient History

    Games discussed in this article include games with dice, board games, and games of skill played by children or adults, excluding athletic, acrobatic

    Full text Article
    Board Games
    The Homer Encyclopedia

    When Athene and we first see the Suitors of Penelope, they are playing a game called pessoi (“counters”) in front of the house doors (Od. 1.106-108)

    See more from Credo