Last Gameboard wants to replace board games with a tabletop console
It's one of those ideas that seems so simple that you wonder why no one's thought of it before: Gameboard-1 is a tabletop games console that could theoretically replace your board game collection – at least in part.
The premise of Gameboard-1 appears to be largely social, especially judging by the promo footage of players sitting around it with beer bottles and pizza slices. The idea is to replicate the social and tactile aspects of board gaming with some of the added benefits of video games.
So as well as being able to play digital versions of classic board games with your friends, Gameboard-1 could, say, teach new players how to play a game, take the place of human players, or, via a network connection, allow gamers to play against each other at different locations.
Needless to say that games will still need playing pieces to maintain that all-important tactility, and the space-saving potential of the device is somewhat limited that being the case, but the trade off is that the board can (presumably via RFID) read data from the pieces to enhance gameplay. However, games can be played with digital on-screen pieces as an alternative.
The device includes a 15.6 by 15.6-inch multi-touch LCD screen with a 1,920 x 1,920 pixel resolution and comes with two USB-C ports. Its built-in battery gives four hours of use when disconnected from the mains. It weighs around 3.3 kg (5 lb).
In terms of computing chops, Gameboard-1 has a 64-bit combined CPU and GPU, 4 GB of DDR4 RAM and a 64-GB hard drive. It runs a custom-built operating system called The Last Gameboard OS (TLGOS).
The board can also connect to mobile devices via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to control and interact with the board, so players could, for example, view their digital Scrabble tiles on a personal device before playing them on the main game board. Multiple game boards can also be connected quickly and easily to create larger screens and boards.
The device can also put a real-world spin on more traditional video games. One demo shows a Breakout-style game, with the player demolishing a wall by bouncing a digital ball off a physical block by sliding it around the screen.
As is the way, these days, Gameboard-1 seeks to be a platform as well as a games console with its own dedicated games library. The plan is that gamers will be able to try games for free before buying, or having access to the whole library via a monthly subscription.
The system is the work of The Last Gameboard and designed by co-founder Ryan Wyatt, the system architect behind the original Xbox, and who also contributed to the PlayStation 3 and Magic Leap One. The Last Gameboard was also co-founded by CEO Shail Mehta.
It's too early to tell if the board will be successful enough to attract adaptations of classic tabletop games, but with any luck Gameboard-1 will lower the barrier to entry for creative games designers with new ideas.
Gameboard-1 is currently raising funds on Kickstarter, surpassing its US$100,000 goal, raising more than $162,000 with eight days to go. A first edition unit can be ordered with a pledge of $349, which includes a three-month game subscription. Should all go to plan, the first boards are due to go out to developers in July 2020 and customers in October that year.
You can see a promo video for Gameboard-1 below.
Sources: The Last Gameboard, Kickstarter
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An open version of this kind of thing would be amazing for board gamers and indie board game designers, because you wouldn't have to fight the logistics of making and distributing paper/cardstock versions of everything.