246 – Five Tips for App-Integrated Games – The Family Gamers Podcast
Five Tips for App-Integrated Board Games
There has been huge growth in board games that also use mobile apps over the last couple of years. We’re seeing more and more of it. We have 5 tips for playing app-assisted family board games. [Jump right to the topic.]
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Andrew and his friends tried a mostly-blind taste test of five different fast food chain sandwiches, then ranked them. The verdict:
3. Burger King
2. Popeyes (but Andrew’s #1)
1. Chick-Fil-A (but Andrew’s #2)
SNAP Review – Lucky Numbers
Do you feel lucky?
Shape your luck as you fill your garden with clovers in this sequencing game. See the SNAP review for video and transcript.
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App Integrated Board Games (Timestamp: 37:00)
There have been huge growth in App integrated board games over the last couple of years and it’s only going to happen more and more.
It started with helper apps, like Chwazi or token trackers. Even apps like BG Stats to help track your plays (which is the reason we can tell you “what we’ve been playing” every week).
OK, that’s not strictly true. It started with games that had electronic talk-boxes, like Mall Madness, Stop Thief, and Dark Tower. You’ll still see a few of these on the shelves (like HEIST, which we really enjoy). But some of these are now releasing apps that can be used instead of the talk boxes (like Stop Thief!) This allows more flexibility, and means that the publishers can fix bugs or even add more features later on!
Now we see app support and integration with card-based games like Unlock, or the Holiday Hijinks games (as we discussed on the podcast last week). Sometimes the apps are basically just fancy timers (EXIT timer app, 5-Minute Dungeon, Panic Island).
But there are other apps that are completely integral to the game. We’ve seen this already in Last Defense! and Chronicles of Crime, and we’re only going to see more of it. (Kids Chronicles from Lucky Duck sounds really cool, and so does Destinies!)
5 Tips for App-Assisted Gameplay with Your Family
1. Screen Share
Use Air Play or “cast” your device screen to a TV or large monitor. Instead of having everyone crowd around a phone, let everyone into the action!
Just like you’d read a rulebook before sitting down to play, you should try out the app before everyone sits down together. Nothing can kill family time like a bunch of people trying to solve the same technical problem while only one person can interact with the device. We’ve all heard “let me do it” and we all know how annoying it can be.
Figure out what device you’ll run it on. Try out the casting to a larger screen. Familiarize yourself with the interface (what does this button do?) and you’ll make the process smoother for everyone.
3. Consider Your Environment
App integration brings a completely different feel to board games. You may need to modify the way you play or where you play to make it work.
If you’re going to cast to a TV like we said earlier, you might not be able to have everyone actually sit around a table. Maybe you’re going to move to a coffee table (or maybe sit on the floor). If you have a dedicated game room, is there even room for a TV or large screen?
Forgetting to charge your phone could also be a problem! Either make sure it’s charged up ahead of time, or ensure you have a place where it can stay plugged in while you play.
4. Forget the Screen (if you can)
The board game may be app enhanced, but it’s still a board game. Your main interaction should still be with the other players around the table! It’s still a social experience that requires collaboration or competition.
Don’t lose yourself in the app! (If your kids are excessively screen-focused, maybe casting to a TV is too much?)
If we wanted family video game time, we would play video games instead!
5. Designate a Controller
Most app-assisted games will be most effective with a single player being the “app controller”.
Sharing and taking turns is good, but in this case, the mechanics of how to share an app can become overwhelming and take people out of the experience of playing the game. (Especially for parents who need to manage what is fair and equitable.)
Even though most games give opportunities for each player to interact with the app individually, you might not be comfortable handing the phone around (especially to kids). This is where casting to a larger screen really comes in handy! If everyone can see, then one person can do all or most of the app use, and no one will feel left out.
Maybe the app “driver” is the most technical person in the group (don’t make grandma do it). Or maybe you do want to let your kids “drive” sometimes. Why not take turns being the app user for the whole game? You can either do it tied to a particular board game (write it on a piece of paper and store in the game box), or across all games (write it on the fridge, maybe?)
If you’ve got thoughts on this style of game, let us know:
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