February 15, 2006
The "Death and Transfiguration" of the Boardgame?

Philips announced in early January their prototype of the 'entertaible', a boardgame to end all boardgames, i.e. basically a touchscreen which can be used with generic, "tangible" as the claim playing pieces like pawns and dies. The idea is to tap the still existing facination for boardgames (which might be less enthusiastic in the US than in Germany but still considerable given the frequent adaptations of computer games like Diablo and even Doom as tabletop games) and combine it with the lifestyle fetishism of the ipod generation. It's a fascinating idea, emulating all conceivable kinds of board games on a reprogrammable screen with the added value of online connectivity to download new game demos (and ads?) into your 'entertaible'.
However, I'm not sure if they are not missing the point of why boardgames are still popular (and why their digital versions suck), namely the real 'tangibility' and materiality of the pieces, of the gameboard as a map which, after years of use as e.g. in the case of the 1995 Settlers of Catan, exhibits traces of its use and the fond experiences connected with such a game.
Their first test runs are supposed to take place in public spaces like bars and casinos which again might be a good idea and a clever business concept...