By Ryan Sturm and Geoff Engelstein

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Reviews: 1

Chris Dennett
 May 1, 2019
Always informative, goes to the top of my playlist when a new episode pops up.


Welcome to Ludology, an analytical discussion of the how’s and why’s of the world of board games. Rather than news and reviews, Ludology explores a variety of topics about games from a wider lens, as well as discuss game history, game design and game players. Ludology is made possible by the support and donations of listeners like you. We encourage you to visit us at our guild on Boardgamegeek to get involved in a continuing discussion of our topics. Ludology is part of The Dice Tower Network, the premier board game media network.

Episode Date
GameTek Classic 201.5 - The Yips

Geoff discusses an unusual and somewhat tragic condition in sports called "The Yips." Is it mental, or does it have a physiological basis?

Jun 09, 2019
Ludology Episode 201 - Are We Having Fun Yet?

Gil, Emma, and Scott talk about fun and meaning in games. What is fun, and how can we achieve fun in our games? What are games that try to balance fun within a more serious topic? And how about games that are not meant to be fun at all; how do they provide meaning for their players?

During the episode, Scott discusses Marc LeBlanc's 8 Types of Fun, which you can read more about here:

Note: In the last 20 minutes of the episode, be advised that we discuss games that deal with traumatic subjects, like the deaths of close family members. 

Jun 02, 2019
Biography of a Board Game 200.5 - Cluedo

Scott discusses the history of the legendary deduction game Cluedo. 

May 26, 2019
Ludology Episode 200 - Auld Lang... Engelstein?

After 200 episodes, Geoff has decided to step back from Ludology to focus on game design and book writing. So we've gathered previous co-hosts Ryan Sturm and Mike Fitzgerald, as well as future co-host Emma Larkins and future contributor Professor Scott Rogers, for a big slam-bang going away party! 

You'll continue to hear Geoff with his GameTek segment every 4 weeks. And if you'd like to stay in touch, follow him on Twitter:

May 19, 2019
GameTek Classic 199 - Crystallography

Geoff discusses the art of x-ray diffraction, and how it relates to board games.

May 12, 2019
Ludology Episode 199 - What's In the Box?

Gil and Geoff discuss uncertainty in games, using Greg Costikyan's _Uncertainty in Games_ as a guide. What kinds of uncertainty are there in games? How do they affect the game experience? 

May 05, 2019
Biography of a Boardgame 198 - Othello

Scott takes a deep dive into the twisted and fascinating history of the game Othello.

Apr 27, 2019
Ludology Episode 198 - Inspired

Gil and Geoff are delighted to be joined by Anthony Giovannetti, one of the designers of the popular video game Slay the Spire, a deck-building rogue-like dungeon crawl.

How did the board game concepts of deckbuilding translate into a computer game? What advantages did the solo roguelike format give the designers?

Apr 21, 2019
GameTek Classic 197 - Drinking Games

Geoff takes a look at the long history of drinking games.

Apr 14, 2019
Ludology Episode 197 - Empires Up In Arms

Gil and Geoff welcome Mikael Jakobsson and Rick Eberhardt from the MIT Game Lab to discuss their research into colonial themes in board games, and the game design workshops they run in former colonial countries.

Apr 07, 2019
GameTek Classic 196 - Apples Against Humanity

Scott Rogers is back with a new Biography of a Board Game, this time looking at Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity.

Mar 31, 2019
Ludology Episode 196 - Word Up

Gil and Geoff welcome guests Allison Parrish and Tim Szetela, designers of Rewordable, to discuss word games. What particular design techniques are required for this type of game?


Mar 24, 2019
GameTek Classic 195 - Ritual

In this GameTek, Geoff explores the connection between Ritual and Play.

Mar 17, 2019
Ludology Episode 195 - Value Added

Gil and Geoff discuss valuation within games - what are the different ways of determining resource value? How does value flow and change over the course of play?


Mar 10, 2019
GameTek 194 - The Hanabi Challenge

In this new interview, Geoff talks with Nolan Bard from Google Deep Mind and Jakob Foerster from Oxford University about their proposal to use the card game Hanabi as the next frontier in Machine Learning and AI research.

The original paper can be found at


Mar 03, 2019
Ludology Episode 194 - Lifting the Fog

Gil and Geoff are live at ToyFair NY with the designer of Fog of Love, Jacob Jaskov. What was his development process like for this innovative design? What does that tell us about creating narrative inside games?

Feb 26, 2019
GameTek Classic 193 - Merchant of Venus

Scott Rogers is back with the biography of Merchant of Venus!

Feb 16, 2019
Ludology Episode 193 - Lean and Mean in 2019

Gil and Geoff welcome back Stephen Buonocore from Stronghold Games for their traditional annual State of the Industry discussion. What trends did we see in 2018? What do we see for the future of tabletop gaming?

Feb 10, 2019
GameTek Classic 192 - Ties

In this classic GameTek Geoff talks about ties and tie-breakers. What makes a good tiebreaker?

Feb 03, 2019
Ludology Episode 192 - Loops I Did It Again

Gil and Geoff talk about Game Loops and how they can be designed to accomplish a variety of goals.

Jan 27, 2019
GameTek Classic 191 - Schelling

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about the work of Thomas Schelling.

Jan 21, 2019
The Life of the Party

Gil and Geoff welcome Scott Rogers to discuss party games. What features make for a good party game? What are the dos and don'ts for designers?

Jan 13, 2019
GameTek Classic 190 - Ameritrash

Scott Rogers is back with Part 2 of his Eurogame-Ameritrash series!

Dec 30, 2018
Ludology Episode 190 - Diabolus in Ludica

Gil and Geoff discuss the idea of Ludonarrative Dissonance. What is it? How can it sink a game or make it soar?

Dec 16, 2018
GameTek Classic 189 - I Cut, You Choose

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at the criminally under-used "I Cut, You Choose" mechanism.


Dec 09, 2018
Ludology Episode 189 - Missing Selinker

Gil and Geoff are joined by game and puzzle designer Mike Selinker to discuss the relationship between puzzles and games.

Dec 02, 2018
GameTek Classic 188 - Eurogames

Scott Rogers takes a look at the origin of the term "Eurogames".

Nov 25, 2018
Ludology Episode 188 - Unique as a Snowflake

Gil and Geoff welcome designer Corey Konieczka to discuss his new "Unique" game, Discover: Lands Unknown. What is it like to design a game that will have a unique combination of components in each copy? How does it impact playtesting and production?

Duration: 47:14

Nov 18, 2018
GameTek Classic 187 - Games for the Really, Really Smart

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at a recent study about who wants to play games - and why.

Nov 11, 2018
Ludology Episode 187 - Balancing Act

Gil and Geoff take a look at game balance. What is it, exactly?

Duration: 54:34

Nov 04, 2018
GameTek Classic 186 - Black Morn Betrayal

In a spooky Biography of a Board Game, Scott Rogers takes a look at Chill: Black Morn Manor and Betrayal at House on the Hill.

Oct 28, 2018
Ludology Episode 186 - Zombie Apocalypse

Gil and Geoff are joined by Isaac Vega, designer of Dead of Winter and Neon Gods to discuss ways to integrate story into the board games.

Duration: 55:25

Oct 21, 2018
GameTek Classic 185 - Libratus

In this classic GameTek, Geoff dives into the details of the AI that defeated the top poker players on the planet.

Oct 14, 2018
Ludology Episode 185 - Soft Boiled

Gil and Geoff discuss hard incentives vs soft incentives. What makes people want to play a game? What makes them have fun? What makes them want to play again?

Duration: 56:12

Oct 07, 2018
GameTek Classic 184 - Twilight Imperium

Professor Scott Rogers is back with the biography of Twilight Imperium.

Duration: 10:20

Sep 28, 2018
Ludology Episode 184 - Between Two Podcasters

Gil and Geoff are delighted to welcome Jamey Stegmaier from Stonemaier games. We discuss life after Kickstarter, and Jamey's design philosophy.

Duration: 58:18

Sep 24, 2018
GameTek Classic 183 - Input Output Randomness

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at the relationship between luck and strategy.

Duration: 6:20

Sep 16, 2018
Ludology Episode 183 - Mind Your Own Business

Gil and Geoff deconstruct the new Wolfgang Warsch game The Mind. What makes it tick? What does it do right, and what does it do wrong?

Duration: 1:02:19

Sep 08, 2018
GameTek Classic 182 - Pandemic

Scott Rogers is back with a look at the history of Pandemic!

Duration: 5:17

Sep 03, 2018
Ludology Episode 182 - The Calm After the Sturm

Gil and Geoff once again welcome Ryan Sturm to recap the development of Trade on the Tigris.

Duration: 1:17:14

Aug 26, 2018
GameTek Classic 181 - Talmud

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about the Talmud, and it's relation to game rules.

Aug 19, 2018
Ludology Episode 181 - Indy Rock

Gil and Geoff broadcast live from Gencon with super-special guest Ryan Sturm!

Duration: 51:31

Aug 12, 2018
Ludology Episode 180 - Keep Them Doggies Rollin'

Gil and Geoff are joined by special guest Suzanne Sheldon to talk about Roll and Write games! What makes them tick? What special design considerations are there?

Duration: 1:03:49

Jul 29, 2018
GameTek Classic 179 - Kill Dr. Lucky

Scott Rogers is back with another Biography of a Board Game! This time - Kill Dr. Lucky from James Earnest!

Jul 09, 2018
Ludology Episode 179 - Contested Outcome

Contest results! Gil and Geoff wade into an incredibly strong field to pick the top 16 entries in the latest theme/mechanism competition. Who will end up on the top of the heap?

Duration: 59:05

Jul 01, 2018
GameTek Classic 178 - Real Time

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses design considerations for real time games. Plus a coda!

Duration: 9:11

Jun 24, 2018
Ludology Episode 178 - Coin Operated

Gil and Geoff are pleased to welcome Volko Ruhnke, designer of the COIN series, about Counter-Intelligence operations throughout history. How do you capture the dynamics of these complex conflicts in a game? What are the challenges with designing simulations and general? And what can he tell us about his time in the CIA?

Duration: 1:09:25

Jun 17, 2018
GameTek Classic 177 - Agricola

Professor Scott Rogers is back with another Biography of a Board Game! This time, Agricola is under the spotlight.

Duration: 11:55

Jun 10, 2018
Ludology Episode 177 - AI, AI, Captain!

We welcome Theresa Duringer of Temple Gates Games, developer of the Race for the Galaxy app to talk about the process of developing and incorporating AI, how to make it smarter or dumber or more human, and more.

Duration: 59:27

Jun 03, 2018
GameTek Classic 176 - Apophenia

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about how we see patterns even when there aren't any, and what that means for game designers.

Duration: 8:01

May 27, 2018
Ludology Episode 176 - Taxonomy Driver

Since there were humans, they've been putting things into categories. What are some of the ways games are categorized? Is this useful, or a distraction?

Duration: 59:56

May 20, 2018
GameTek Classic 175 - Talisman

Professor Scott Rogers is back with another Bio of a Board Game, taking a look at Talisman!

Duration: 9:28

May 13, 2018
Ludology Episode 175 - Auld Lang Design

Recorded live at the Gathering of Friends, Gil and Geoff have an opportunity to sit down and chat with Eric Lang, designer of Rising Sun, the Dice Masters series, and much more. We talk about his role at CMON, his design process, and the state of the industry.

Duration: 44:36

May 06, 2018
Ludology Episode 174 - Consensual Healing

Gil and Geoff are pleased to welcome guest Naomi Clark, professor at the NYU Game Center, and designer most recently of the card game Consentacle. We discuss tackling adult themes in board games in a serious way, and what she learned during the development of Consentacle.

Duration: 1:15:54

Apr 22, 2018
GameTek Classic 173 - Bang

Professor Scott Rogers is back with another Biography of a Board Game. This episode he heads to the old west to check out Bang!

Duration: 07:55

Apr 15, 2018
Ludology Episode 173 - Patternity

Gil and Geoff are pleased to welcome guest Isaac Shalev to discuss the idea of Design Patterns for tabletop games. What are Design Patterns, and how are they helpful? What are some examples?

Duration: 1:08:34

Apr 08, 2018
GameTek Classic 172 - Hyperreality

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses his experience with a new type of VR.

Duration: 5:40

Apr 01, 2018
Ludology Episode 172 - Odd Coupling

Gil and Geoff take a look at the different ways that subsystems of a game can be coupled, and what that means for complexity and player agency.

Duration: 1:05:44

Mar 25, 2018
Ludology Episode 171 - Cannata Stop

We are pleased to welcome podcaster, gamer, actor, and all-around great guy Jeff Cannata to Ludology! Jeff can be heard on DLC, We Have Concerns, and the /Filmcast.

We take a very deep dive into the contrasts between tabletop and video games. This one gets very philosophical, so be prepared :)

Duration: 1:18:32

Mar 11, 2018
GameTek Classic 170 - Court Cases

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at some recent court cases involving games.

Duration: 5:59

Mar 04, 2018
Ludology Episode 170 - Questionable Content

Gil and Geoff field a litany of listener questions!

Duration: 1:20:22

Feb 25, 2018
GameTek Classic 169 - Scrabble

Scott Rogers is back with another Biography of a Board Game, this time focusing on Scrabble! 

KWYJIBO for the win!

Duration: 9:56

Feb 18, 2018
Ludology Episode 169 - Raphic Design

Gil and Geoff are thrilled to welcome Raph Koster, author of A Theory of Fun, and video game designer. We talk about a wide range of topics, include MMOs, keeping players engaged, emotions in games, and, of course, fun.

Duration: 1:28:41

Feb 11, 2018
GameTek Classic 168 - Economic Prisoner's Dilemma

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about the Prisoner's Dilemma facing Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri.

Duration: 6:05

Feb 04, 2018
Ludology Episode 168 - Kumbaya

Gil and Geoff talk about designing low-interaction games. Sometimes you just want to work on your own little corner of the world - and some players prefer that. What are techniques create engaging experiences without conflict?

Duration: 56:53

Jan 28, 2018
GameTek Classic 167 - Candyland

A sweet surprise! Biography of a Board Game takes a look at Candyland.

Duration: 8:51

Jan 21, 2018
Ludology Episode 167 - 18 and Up

Gil and Geoff are joined by Stephen Buonocore from Stronghold Games to discuss the state of the board game industry as we enter 2018.

Duration: 1:12:05

Jan 14, 2018
Ludology Episode 166 - Impulse Control

Geoff has an insight about how game structure can keep players engaged, and is excited to share.

Duration 56:39

Dec 17, 2017
GameTek Classic 165 - Dunning-Kruger

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about how we are really bad at telling how good we really are.

Duration: 6:03

Dec 10, 2017
Ludology Episode 165 - Fowerian Slip

Gil and Geoff are delighted to welcome Tim Fowers to discuss player psychology, and how that can be leveraged by game designers.

Tim is the designer of Burgle Bros, Paperback, and more, and the owner of Fowers Games, which publishes his titles.

Duration: 1:11:46

Dec 03, 2017
GameTek Classic 164 - Catan

Scott Rogers is back with a super-sized Bio of a Board Game, with the history of The Settlers of Catan!

Duration: 12:14

Nov 26, 2017
Ludology Episode 164 - First Steps

Gil and Geoff discuss the very early stages of design and play testing. How much should be on paper, and how much in your head?

Duration 1:05:21

Nov 19, 2017
GameTek Classic 163 - Theme, Mechanics, Experience

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a different angle on the connection between theme, mechanics, and player experience.

Duration: 6:40

Nov 12, 2017
Ludology Episode 163 - A Pain In the Asymmetry

Gil and Geoff are pleased to welcome guests Patrick Leader (Vast) and Cole Wehrle (Root, An Infamous Traffic) to discuss asymmetry in games, and the particular challenges it presents to the designer.

Duration: 1:07:19

Nov 05, 2017
GameTek Classic 162 - Scotland Yard

Scott Rogers is back with another Biography of a Board Game! This time, he talks about the history of Scotland Yard, and early SdJ winner!

Duration: 7:25

Oct 29, 2017
Ludology Episode 162 - The Ares Project

Gil and Geoff take a deep dive into the design of Terraforming Mars. What makes it tick? What works and what doesn't?

Duration: 1:17:52

Oct 22, 2017
GameTek Classic 161 - The Inciting Incident

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at classic story-telling techniques to see how they might apply to game design.

Duration: 05:52

Oct 15, 2017
Ludology 161 - What's the Story, Morning Glory?

Gil and Geoff are delighted to welcome Jason Morningstar, designer of Fiasco, The Shab-Al-Hiri Roach, Night Witches, and other innovative RPGs. We discuss how to better integrate story and narrative into games when there is no GM, the social contract that requires, and pitfalls along the way.

Duration: 1:10:35

Oct 08, 2017
GameTek Classic 160 - Uno

In this Biography of a Board Game, Scott Rogers reveals the secret history of Uno!

Duration: 07:45

Oct 01, 2017
Ludology Episode 160 - Law and Order

Gil and Geoff take a look at the different ways of controlling turn order in a game. What are the rules of thumb for when to use the different methods?

Duration: 1:23:17

Sep 24, 2017
GameTek Classic 159 - High Stakes RPS

What would you do if you were playing Rock, Paper, Scissors for $20,000,000?

Duration: 04:42

Sep 17, 2017
Ludology Episode 159 - Getting Out Scott Free

Gil and Geoff are pleased to welcome Professor Scott Nicholson from Wilfrid Laurier University to discuss Escape Rooms. What are they, how do they work, and what lessons do they hold for game design?

If you're not familiar with Escape Rooms, please check out this video from Scott with an overview:

Duration: 1:19:47

Sep 10, 2017
GameTek Classic 158 - Opration

Biography of a Board Game returns with the classic Operation!

Duration: 06:12

Sep 03, 2017
Ludology Episode 158 - Gen X

Gil and Geoff host the first-ever Ludology live Q&A from Gencon 50!

Duration: 51:39

Aug 27, 2017
Ludology Episode 157 - Come Scale Away

Gil and Geoff are pleased to welcome guest Matt Wolfe, to discuss the concept of Decision Scales in games.

Duration 1:10:04

Jul 28, 2017
GameTek Classic 156 - Alpha Go

In this classic GameTek, Geoff dives into the details of Alpha Go, Google's Go-playing AI.

Duration: 06:41

Jul 23, 2017
Ludology Episode 156 - Surprise!

 Gil and Geoff are joined by the gang from the Flip The Table podcast to talk about Roll & Move games. What works (and doesn't) with this much-maligned mechanic?

Duration: 1:07:00

Jul 16, 2017
GameTek Classic 155 - Mystery Rummy

Scott takes a look at the history of the Mystery Rummy series, by a designer y'all might know...

Duration: 6:24

Jul 09, 2017
Ludology Episode 155 - Model Citizen

Gil and Geoff talk about different methods for using mathematical modeling and simulation during the design process.

Duration: 1:12:12

Jul 02, 2017
GameTek Classic - 154

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at the physics behind the coin toss.

Duration 5:39

Jun 25, 2017
Ludology Episode 154 - Leave Me Alone!

Gil and Geoff are pleased to welcome Morten Monrad Pedersen, to discuss the art of designing solo games.

Morten has designed several popular solo variants to games, including Scythe and Viticulture. What are the design techniques for solo games? How do they differ from multiplayer games?

Duration:  1:14:38

Jun 18, 2017
GameTek Classic 153 - Arkham Horror

Scott Rogers joins us with a new Biography of a Board Game - Arkham Horror!

Duration: 6:16

Jun 11, 2017
Ludology Episode 153 - Tie One On

Gil and Geoff tackle ties in games. How important are tiebreakers? What are good and bad ways to design them?

Duration: 1:18:18

Jun 04, 2017
GameTek Classic 152 - Spoilsport

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the difference between a cheat and a spoilsport, and what that means for society.

Duration: 05:49

May 28, 2017
Ludology Episode 152 - The Better Angels Of Our Nature

Gil and Geoff are thrilled to welcome Chris Cobb from Riot Games, creator of the number one online game in the world, League of Legends. Until recently Chris was the technical lead for the Player Behavior team, which was tasked with designing in-game and out-of-game systems to encourage players to be nicer to each other, and deal with players who don't.

Over the years, what did they learn about behavior, and how to design systems to encourage it to improve?

Duration: 1:02:29

May 21, 2017
GameTek Classic 151 - Risk

Ludology welcomes Scott Rogers and his Biography of a Board Game segment! This episode he traces the history of Risk, from the early 20th century to today.

Duration: 09:10

May 14, 2017
Ludology Episode 151 - High Definition

For their first show as a duo, Gil and Geoff revisit the question posed in the very first episode of Ludology - What is a game? 

The answer may surprise you.

Duration: 1:23:24

May 07, 2017
GameTek Classic 150 - VirZoom

New Content! Geoff interviews Eric Janszen, the CEO of VirZoom.

VirZoom makes a Virtual Reality exercise bike, that interfaces with all the major VR platforms, and uses games to keep people exercising. What lessons have they learned about gaming and engagement?

Duration 25:39

Apr 30, 2017
Ludology Episode 150 - Mike Drop

Changes! We bid a fond farewell to Mike, and a big hello to Gil!

Duration: 1:25:22

Apr 23, 2017
GameTek Classic 149 - Procedural Narrative Generation

New content! Geoff interviews Rogelio Cardona-Rivera, a researcher at North Carolina State, about Procedural Narrative Generation - systems that can create and manipulate story structure in a game on the fly. 

For more information, please check out and

Duration: 32:58

Apr 16, 2017
Ludology Episode 149 - Blast From The Past

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome Justin Jacobson from Restoration Games, to talk about what they've learned from bringing older games back for a modern audience.

Duration: 1:01:35

Apr 09, 2017
GameTek Classic 148 - Teamwork

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at games that help improve teamwork.

Duration: 05:41

Apr 02, 2017
Ludology Episode 148 - Half-Baked

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome guest J.R. Honeycutt, to discuss the role of the Developer in the game design and publication process.

Duration 59:25

Mar 26, 2017
GameTek Classic 147 - Estimating

In this classic GameTek Geoff discusses some techniques for estimating things in your head.

Duration 6:19

Mar 19, 2017
Ludology Episode 147 - Listen Up!

Mike and Geoff field a bevy of listener questions.

Duration: 1:10:21

Mar 12, 2017
GameTek Classic 146 - Betrayal

In this classic GameTek Geoff looks at how the language people use can give clues to their treachery.

Duration: 6:32

Mar 05, 2017
Double Take

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome designer Andrew Parks to discuss taking a second shot at a design, whether it's revisiting a mechanic or taking an entire system into a new direction.

Duration: 1:15:42

Feb 26, 2017
GameTek Classic 145 - Red vs Blue

In this classic GameTek Geoff looks at how choosing a color may affect how you play.

Duration: 06:17

Feb 19, 2017
Ludology Episode 145 - Six Ways From Sunday

Mike and Geoff discuss multi-use cards - their history, and how they can be used by designers.

Duration: 1:03:53

Feb 12, 2017
GameTek Classic 144 - Singular They

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the use of pronouns when writing rules.

Duration: 06:17

Feb 05, 2017
Ludology Episode 144 - The Edge of Seventeen

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome returning guest Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games to discuss the state of the gaming industry going into 2017.

Duration: 1:19:43

Jan 29, 2017
GameTek Classic 143 - Nash Equilibrium

In this classic GameTek Geoff pays tribute to game theorist John Nash.

Duration: 06:35

Jan 22, 2017
Ludology Episode 143 - Two Players! Three Players! Four Players! Bwahahah!

How do different player counts affect the design process? How important is it that a game support a variety of player counts?

Duration: 1:08:06

Jan 15, 2017
Ludology Episode 142 - Slots O Fun

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome slot machine game design Jeremy Hornik. Jeremy has been designing slots for over 15 years, including Money Burst, Willy Wonka, Monopoly, and Baron von Bacon's Million Credit Bonus.

What are the special considerations for slot machine design, and what do they learn from video and board games?

Duration: 1:16:28


Dec 11, 2016
GameTek Classic 141 - Game States

In this classic GameTek, Geoff wraps up his discussion of entropy and statistical mechanics by exploring the way that disorder and energy flow through a game system.

Duration: 6:19

Dec 04, 2016
Ludology 141 - The Realtime Housewives of New Jersey

Mike and Geoff dive into real time games. What design techniques work for this mechanism? What does it do to the player experience?

Duration: 1:00:50

Nov 27, 2016
GameTek Classic 140 - Statistical Mechanics

In this classic GameTek Geoff continues his exploration of thermodynamics by talking about Statistical Mechanics and what it tells us about the world.

Duration: 7:05

Nov 20, 2016
Ludology Episode 140 - Training Day

Mike and Geoff are thrilled to welcome guest Mark Herman to the program. Mark is the designer of a slew of games, including the first Card Driven Game (CDG) We The People. His latest design is Churchill.

However the focus of our conversation is on Mark's work designing and executing simulations for the military and businesses, to test out their assumptions and strategies. He details these in his book Wargaming For Leaders.

Duration 1:16:59

Nov 13, 2016
GameTek Classic 139 - Entropy

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at the scientific concept of entropy.

Duration: 5:32

Nov 06, 2016
Fog of Wallace

Mike and Geoff take a deep dive into Martin Wallace's latest game, Via Nebula. They look at all the design choices, from game play to theme to production.

Duration: 1:09:04

Oct 30, 2016
GameTek Classic 138 - Lead Changes

In this classic GameTek Geoff looks at lead changes, and some simple mathematical models that reveal some surprising truths.

Duration: 06:31

Oct 23, 2016
Ludology Episode 138 - Hug To Win

Mike and Geoff discuss the different ways you can win a game, and how that effects the design and player experience.

Duration: 1:13:29

Oct 16, 2016
GameTek Classic 137 - Incompleteness

In this classic GameTek Geoff examines rules as a logical structure, and the way that relates to math concepts of axioms and completeness.

Duration: 06:28

Oct 09, 2016
Ludology Episode 137 - A Thorn in the PA

Mike and Geoff are thrilled to welcome two of the designers of Thornwatch, Mike Krahulik and Mike Selinker, to discuss their game design process, and their views on gaming culture. Mike Krahulik is the artist for the popular webcomic Penny Arcade and co-founder with Jerry Holkins. Mike Selinker is founder of Lone Shark games, and designer of many titles, including the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.

Duration: 1:15:33

Sep 29, 2016
GameTek Classic 136 - Hidden But Trackable

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses games with 'Hidden But Trackable' information. Is it OK to write things down?

Duration: 06:19

Sep 25, 2016
Ludology Episode 136 - Thinking Inside The Box

Mike and Geoff discuss the way that constraints, both internal and external, affect the design process. They are pleased to welcome guest Grant Rodiek, designer of Cry Havoc, to discuss his 54-card Guild, which challenges designers to develop games using only 54 cards.

Duration: 1:06:26

Sep 18, 2016
GameTek Classic 135 - Antidosis

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at the ancient Greek practice of Antidosis, and it's application as a game mechanism.

Duration: 05:34

Sep 11, 2016
Ludology Episode 135 - Necessary Evil

Mike and Geoff talk about teaching games in convention environments. If you are giving demos of a game in a booth, what are the key things to focus on? How much depth do you go into?

They also discuss teaching games in general, with tips for getting things going smoothly.

Duration: 1:07:30 

Sep 04, 2016
GameTek Classic 134 - The Void

In this all-new content, Geoff interviews Curtis Hickman, Chief Creative Officer of The Void, a company pioneering an immersive extension of Virtual Reality called Hyperreality. Debuting a few weeks ago as the Ghostbusters Dimension experience at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in New York City, it got immediate rave reviews.

What's new about this technology, and how can it be extended in the future?

Duration: 16:09

Aug 28, 2016
Ludology Episode 134 - There's No "I" In Team

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome guests Sen-Foong Lim and Jay Cormier, designers of Godfather: A New Don, Junk Art, and many more games. How does their collaboration work? What are the advantages and disadvantages of working as a team?

Duration: 1:04:54

Aug 21, 2016
GameTek Classic 133 - Scoring Tracks

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about Scoring Tracks, and how to make them work with your players, instead of against them.

Duration: 06:26

Jul 31, 2016
Ludology Episode 133 - The Crying Game

A little window into dinner time at the Engelstein household: Young Brian asks the question "Can a board game make the players cry?" and he ends up on a podcast.

So can they? Mike, Geoff, and Brian explore what makes people sad, and whether board games can do that - and how that affects their status as 'art'.

Duration: 56:13

Jul 24, 2016
Ludology Episode 132 - Pyramid Scheme

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome Walter Crist, archeologist and co-author of Ancient Egyptians at Play, to discuss the history of board games in ancient Egypt, and their impact on culture and society.

Duration: 51:10

Jul 10, 2016
Ludology Episode 131 - Whaa?

It's another Listener Question episode! Mike and Geoff take on all comers. Can they survive?

Duration: 1:11:21

Jun 26, 2016
GameTek Classic 130 - Mental Models

In this GameTek, Geoff discusses the role that mental models play in how we interact with objects in the world.

Duration: 06:00

Jun 20, 2016
Ludology Episode 130 - All of Us

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome Suzanne Sheldon and Sydney Engelstein to discuss the topic of diversity and inclusion in gaming.

Duration: 1:49:42

Jun 12, 2016
GameTek Classic 129 - Semi Coop Tournaments

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at options for structuring tournaments for semi cooperative games.

Duration: 06:27

Jun 05, 2016
Ludology Episode 129 - Fast Money

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome guest Soren Johnson. Soren was the lead designer on the computer game Civilization, and recently released Offworld Trading Company, which marries a traditional boardgame style economic battle with computer-based real time mechanics.

Soren discusses the influence of board games on computer game design, and we go into depth on AI implementations.

Duration: 1:09:20


May 29, 2016
GameTek Classic 128 - Semi Coops

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at semi-cooperative games, and the particular challenges they create for social dynamics.

Duration: 06:13

May 22, 2016
Ludology Episode 128 - Why?

Mike and Geoff discuss player motivations. What makes people want to play games? How do you design games to appeal to that type of player?

Duration: 1:16:16

May 15, 2016
GameTek Classic 127 - Cosmic Encounter

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the smart design choices made by the designers of Cosmic Encounter.

Duration: 06:15

May 08, 2016
Ludology Episode 127 - Inspiration

Mike and Geoff interview a panoply of designers of designers at the Gathering of Friends to hear about what inspires them.

Duration: 46:36


May 01, 2016
GameTek Classic 126 - Flow

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about the psychological state called 'Flow'.

Duration: 6:41

Apr 24, 2016
Ludology Episode 126 - Player One

Mike and Geoff are thrilled to have special guest Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari games.  What were the game design considerations of the early video game industry? When you are inventing an entire new genre, where do you look for ideas?

Duration: 42:15

Apr 17, 2016
GameTek Classic 125 - The Distracted Mind

In this classic GameTek Geoff discusses a study that looks at how much people enjoy just sitting with nothing to do.

Duration: 05:43

Apr 10, 2016
Ludology Episode 125 - Checking Out

Mike and Geoff present the third and final part of the game design checklist. You can download the full checklist from, under the Featured Content link.

Duration: 1:08:30

Apr 03, 2016
GameTek Classic 124 - Caribbean Cup

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at an 'interesting' game from the 1994 Caribbean Cup soccer tournament.

Duration: 06:58

Mar 27, 2016
Ludology Episode 124 - Checking It Twice

Mike and Geoff continue their discussion of the Game Design checklist, with questions about game mechanics.

Duration: 01:16:59

Mar 20, 2016
GameTek Classic 123 - Zero Risk Bias

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the psychological concept of Zero Risk Bias.

Duration: 07:45

Mar 13, 2016
Ludology Epiosde 123 - Check Up

Mike and Geoff have been hard at work developing a checklist for game designers, and it is time to go public!  In this first of three episodes, they discuss the questions surrounding creating the desired player experience.

Duration: 01:14:17

Mar 06, 2016
Ludology Episode 122 - The Name of the Game

In this episode, Mike and Geoff discuss the art and science of selecting a name for your game, and what you should consider.

Duration: 1:13:02

Feb 21, 2016
GameTek Classic 121 - Known Unknowns

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses what we know, what we don't, and how that affects our psychology.

Duration: 05:13

Feb 14, 2016
Ludology Episode 121 - Pandemonium

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome guest Matt Leacock, co-designer of new #1 game on Board Game Geek, Pandemic Legacy. We get into the spoiler-free details on designing a Legacy game.

What are the special design considerations for Legacy games? What worked and what didn't? How do production considerations enter into the design process?

Duration: 56:16

Feb 07, 2016
GameTek Classic 120 - Cloning

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at the question of how much you can copy a game and still call it 'new'.

Duration: 06:06

Jan 31, 2016
Ludology Episode 120 - State of Games 2016

For our annual State of Games episode, Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome back Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold games, to discuss the state of the board game industry.

Duration: 1:14:20

Jan 24, 2016
GameTek Classic 119 - Rock Paper Scissors

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at research performed in China on Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Duration: 06:02

Jan 17, 2016
Ludology Episode 119 - Deck The Halls

Mike and Geoff take a look at the Deck Building mechanic.  How has it evolved over the last 


Duration: 1:18:45

Jan 10, 2016
Ludology Episode 118 - Knock, Knock

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome special guest Jamie Madigan, author of the Psychology of Video Games blog, and author of the just released Getting Gamers.

Our topic is Avatars, and player representation in games. How does the role we take on in a game affect our experience and behavior?

Duration: 1:16:48

Dec 13, 2015
GameTek Classic 117 - Werewolf

In this classic GameTek Geoff takes a look at the math behind the popular game Werewolf.

Duration: 06:35

Dec 06, 2015
Ludology Episode 117 - Publish or Perish

During BGG.CON 2015, Mike asked several publishers the same question:

How do you decide what games you want to publish?

With the myriad of pitches and submissions that publishers receive, it is vital for designers to understand what attracts someone's eye.

Publishers interviewed:

  • Stronghold Games
  • Dice Hate Me / Greater Than Games
  • R&R Games
  • Portal Games
  • Arcane Wonders
  • Crash Games
  • Gamelyn Games
  • ZMan Games

Duration: 01:07

Nov 29, 2015
GameTek Classic 116 - Gutsy

New Content! Geoff interviews Barry Joseph and Eric Teo about the game Gutsy. Barry is the Associate Director of Digital Learning at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and as part of a new exhibit on the human microbiome the team at AMNH worked with Eric Teo, to develop the card game Gutsy.

Many of you know Eric Teo as the host of the Push Ur Luck Podcast, and he is also a graduate student studying game design at the NYU Game Center.

Why do a card game? What do they hope to teach, and what other roles do games have to augment museum exhibits?

A Print & Play copy of Gutsy can be downloaded at the AMNH website!

Duration 25:45

Nov 22, 2015
Bam! Pow! Oof!

Mike and Geoff take a look at "Take That" games. When does this mechanic work, and when does it fail?

Duration: 1:13:34

Nov 15, 2015
GameTek Classic 115 - Microbes

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about the revolutionary studies about the human microbiome, and what that can teach us about playing and designing games.

Duration: 06:13

Nov 08, 2015
Ludology Episode 115 - Take Two

What changes are usually made between a first and second edition of a game? And what does that teach us about the design process?

Mike and Geoff are joined by guest Paul Grogan, who was heavily involved in the new edition of Through The Ages with CGE, to examine these questions.

And since we're talking about Through The Ages, we had to invite Ryan Sturm to come back for an encore visit to the program.

Duration 01:21:00

Nov 01, 2015
GameTek Classic 114 - Civilization

Geoff gives a quick report on his play of Advanced Civilization last week.

Duration: 08:17

Oct 25, 2015
Ludology Episode 114 - The Butterfly Effect

Mike and Geoff talk CHAOS! Mike loves it in his games. Can he convince Geoff of its charms?

Duration: 1:04:37

Oct 18, 2015
GameTek Classic 113 - Sunk Costs

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the Sunk Cost Fallacy.

Duration: 05:05

Oct 11, 2015
Ludology Episode 113 - Crossover

What games cross over into traditional retailers like Target and Barnes and Noble? Mike and Geoff are joined by Andrew Lupp, National Sales Manager of PSI, to learn the ins and outs. Andrew works with big chains to help them decide which games will sell to the general public, and walks us through the process.

Duration: 1:18:15

Oct 04, 2015
GameTek Classic 112 - Betrayal

NEW CONTENT! Geoff interviews Vlad Niculae of Cornell about his recent research on predicting betrayal via written communications. The foundation of the study? An only repository of 300 Diplomacy games and all 150,000 messages they generated.

Vlad's new project is the online game StreetCrowd, which is also exploring communications and team dynamics.

Duration: 20:27

Sep 27, 2015
Ludology Episode 112 - MechaTheme

Mike and Geoff select their top 10 entries from the Ludology contest, and reveal the winner!

Duration: 1:04:57


Sep 20, 2015
GameTek Classic 111 - Memory

In this classic GameTek Geoff looks at memory, and how games work with or against it.

Duration: 06:10

Aug 30, 2015
Ludology Episode 111 - Silver Ball Playbook

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome pinball game designer Keith Johnson, designer of games such as Simpsons Pinball Party, Revenge From Mars, and Lord of the Rings.

What are the special design techniques used for designing a pinball game? How do you keep players engaged? How do you make the fixed physical layout feel different in different modes?

Duration: 01:05:40

Aug 23, 2015
GameTek Classic 110 - Luck

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about luck and what increases or decreases it.

Duration: 06:13

Aug 16, 2015
Ludology Episode 110 - The Battle Begins

Mike and Geoff are pleased to welcome guest Richard Borg to discuss the art of designing war games with mainstream appeal. Mr. Borg is the designer of the Command and Colors series of games, which includes Memoir 44 and Battlelore. What are the features of an entry-level wargame? How can you simplify but still capture the essence of a battle?

Duration: 56:06

Aug 09, 2015
GameTek Classic 109 - Power

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about making the player feel powerful. 

We also launch our part of the big Dice Tower Network contest!

Duration: 7:42

Aug 01, 2015
Ludology Episode 109 - We're Listening

Mike and Geoff open up the mailbag and answer difficult and interesting listener questions!

Duration: 1:09:26

Jul 26, 2015
GameTek Classic 108 - Ludology v Narratology

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at the debate that raged in the 1990's between Narratologists and Ludologists.

Duration: 05:59

Jul 19, 2015
Ludology Episode 108 - Level Up

Geoff is pleased to welcome Scott Rogers, designer of video games such as Darksiders and God of War, and author of the books Level Up! and Swipe This!

The discussion centers around the concept of a 'level' as popularized in video games. Why is it such a popular way to organize games? What advantages does it give the designer? And what is the analog in the boardgame world?

Duration: 01:16:05

Jul 12, 2015
GameTek Classic 107 - Analogies

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at how a good analogy can dramatically simplify learning a game.

Duration: 06:00

Jul 05, 2015
Ludology Episode 107 - Seven Up

Mike and Geoff take a deep dive into the Antoine Bauza game Seven Wonders. What works? What doesn't? What drove the design decisions?

Duration: 01:16:26

Jun 28, 2015
GameTek Classic 106 - The Rule of One

In this classic GameTek, Goeff talks about how innovative a game can really be.

Duration: 06:14

Jun 21, 2015
Ludology Episode 106 - Hide and Seek

Mike and Geoff welcome guest Emerson Matsuuchi, designer of Specter Ops and VOLT Robot Battle, to discuss hidden and programmed movement in games. Why use these techniques? What are good and bad examples?

Duration: 01:14:11

Jun 14, 2015
GameTek Classic 105 - Mice and Men

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses a game designed to explore the relationship between rules and morality. 

Duration: 6:15

Jun 07, 2015
Ludology Episode 105 - Teach the Controversy

Inspired by an article by Matt Thrower, Mike and Geoff talk about games that try to tackle controversial topics, and why there aren't more of them.

Duration: 1:05:35

May 31, 2015
GameTek Classic 104 - Ways and Means

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at what factors make a game 'mean'.

Duration: 06:18

May 24, 2015
Ludology Episode 104 - Games Seem Mainstream

Mike and Geoff are joined by guest Rich Sommer, host of the Cardboard! podast and star of stage and screen to discuss games receiving mainstream acceptance.  Is it good for the hobby to have games go mainstream? If so, what can designers, publishers, and hobbyists do to make that happen?

Duration: 01:05:09

May 17, 2015
GameTek Classic 103 - Buddha's Forbidden Games

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at an ancient text that lists games that will distract you from achieving enlightenment.

Duration: 06:18

May 10, 2015
Ludology Episode 103 - House of Cards

Mike and Geoff dive deeper into the world of cards. What is a card? What tools do cards give the designer? What card games exhibit great depth?

Duration: 01:22:22

May 03, 2015
GameTek Classic 102 - Noise Part 2

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at the way different types of noise mirror different random processes in games, and how these can be tuned for maximum player interest.

Duration: 06:24

Apr 26, 2015
Ludology Episode 102 - State of Games, 2015

Mike and Geoff are joined by Stronghold Games President Stephen Buonocore, to discuss the current state of the board game industry. Special guests may also pop in!

Duration: 01:20:18

Apr 19, 2015
GameTek Classic 101 - Noise Part 1

In this classic GameTek, Geoff explores the different types of noise.

Duration: 06:21

Apr 12, 2015
Ludology Episode 101 - Inferiority Cardplex

Geoff and new host Mike Fitzgerald talk about card games and why they are often treated as second-class citizens in the game world.

Duration: 01:07:00

Apr 05, 2015
Ludology Episode 100 - A Ryan Shame

For their 100th episode, and Ryan's last, the guys take a look back at their favorite moments from the show.

Duration: 1:25:13

Mar 22, 2015
GameTek Classic 99 - Allan Calhamer

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the legacy of Allan Calhamer and his game, Diplomacy.

Duration: 07:02

Mar 15, 2015
Ludology Episode 99 - The Game of (real) Life

Ryan and Geoff talk about Gamification, the application of gaming techniques to real world tasks. Why do it? What are some good and bad examples?

Duration: 1:21:30

Mar 08, 2015
GameTek Classic 98 - Solving Poker

In this ALL NEW GameTek, Geoff interviews Dr. Michael Bowling of the University of Alberta. Mike and his team put together computer hardware and software to 'solve' Heads-Up Limit Texas Hold'Em. So how does it work? And what does 'solve' really mean in a game with so much hidden information?

Duration: 38:00

Mar 01, 2015
Ludology Episode 98 - Gathering the Magic

Ryan and Geoff are thrilled to welcome Richard Garfield, designer of Magic: The Gathering, Robo Rally, Netrunner, King of Tokyo and more, along with bonus guest Mike Fitzgerald, whose latest designs include Diamonds and Baseball Highlights: 2045.

We discuss Richard's design philosophy, the origins of Magic, types of gamers, and much more.

Please also visit our geeklist to share your memories of Ludology for our 100th episode spectacular!

Duration: 01:31:23

Feb 22, 2015
GameTek Classic 97 - Rules Lawyers

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at a curious incident at Johns Hopkins University.

Duration: 04:14

Feb 15, 2015
Ludology Episode 97 - Rules of Thumb

Ryan and Geoff discuss heuristics, and the way they are used in games. How can designers shape a game's heuristics to increase both depth and accessibility?

Duration: 01:30:34


Feb 08, 2015
GameTek Classic 96 - Chess Cheating

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the many instances of people cheating in chess tournaments.

Duration: 05:52

Feb 01, 2015
Ludology Episode 96 - I Have A Theme

Ryan and Geoff revisit the topic of theme. Specifically how is theme expressed and integrated in games?

Duration: 01:26:58

Jan 25, 2015
GameTek Classic 95 - Game Security

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at how the physical aspects of a game can be designed to deter or prevent cheating.

Duration: 05:39

Jan 18, 2015
Ludology Episode 95 - The Pitch

Ryan and Geoff talk about their search for a publish for "Trading in the Mediterranean", and what the next steps are.

There is also an important announcement about the future of the show, so stick around until the end.

Duration: 1:03:10

Jan 11, 2015
GameTek Classic 94 - Cheating, Part 2

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses Reputation as an antidote to Cheating, and how it breaks down as groups grow in size.

Duration: 06:40

Dec 21, 2014
Ludology Episode 94 - Hearth of Stone

Ryan and Geoff are thrilled to welcome Ben Brode, Senior Game Designer for Hearthstone, the online card game from Blizzard Entertainment.

Ben joins us to discuss the design considerations behind Hearthstone, how they took advantage of the digital medium while still feeling like a physical card game, and why you should deliver pizza to your favorite game studio.

Duration: 41:20

Dec 14, 2014
GameTek Classic 93 - Cheating, Part 1

In this classic GameTek, Geoff begins a two-part exploration of cheating with a personal admission.

Duration: 6:10

Dec 07, 2014
Ludology Episode 93 - The Truthiness of Board Game Themes

With Geoff goofing off, Ryan is very pleased to welcome noted designer Bruno Faidutti to discuss his article Postcolonial Catan, about how boardgames use cliches and stereotypes as shortcuts to generate theme.

DurationL 56:30

Nov 30, 2014
GameTek Classic 92 - Incentives

In this classic GameTek episode, Geoff explores an experiment that uses loss aversion to create an incentive. Is this a new type of carrot?

Duration: 07:15

Nov 23, 2014
Ludology Episode 92 - Envoys of Excellence

Ryan and Geoff welcome Vincent Salzillo to the show! Vincent runs a variety of cons, including Metatopia, for game designers. He also runs the First Exposure Hall at Gencon for new designers to publishers and playtesters.

His most recent venture is the Envoy program, which helps publishers get their product demonstrated at stores and cons.

Duration: 55:48

Nov 16, 2014
GameTek Classic 91 - Hindsight Bias

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the psychological phenomenon of Hindsight Bias, and how it may prevent us from being better players.

Duration: 06:37

Nov 09, 2014
Ludology Episode 91 - Olotka Encounter

In this episode of Ludology we are thrilled to welcome Peter Olotka, one of the designers of Cosmic Encounter, Dune, and many other classic games.  We discuss the early development of Cosmic Encounter, how it evolved, and other games in the Eon line.

Duration: 01:16:25

Nov 02, 2014
GameTek Classic 90 - Expectation Value Revisited

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses expectation value, and how it can be used - and misused - in games.

Duration: 05:39

Oct 26, 2014
Ludology Episode 90 - Kniziathon

Ryan and Geoff take a close look at the body of work of Reiner Knizia, one of the most influential and prolific designers of the modern era.

What common threads run through Knizia's work? What lasting impact has he had on the hobby? What are the highlights, lowlights, and hidden gems of his oeuvre? And just how do you pronounce 'oeuvre' anyway?

Duration: 01:24:54

Oct 19, 2014
GameTek Classic 89 - Quasicrystals

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about putting tiles down without repeating any patterns.

Duration: 06:15

Oct 12, 2014
Ludology Episode 89 - Bridging the Digital Divide

Ryan and Geoff are very pleased to welcome guest Jordan Weisman, founder of FASA, Wizkids, and Harebrained Schemes, and designer of Battletech, Heroclix, and the just-released Golem Arcana.

Jordan joins us to discuss incorporating digital technology, like smartphones and tablets, into the realm of the board game. What special considerations need to be given to the design? Is the technology hobbling or liberating? And what will the future hold for hybrids?

Duration: 01:13:42

Oct 05, 2014
GameTek Classic 88 - Blind RPS

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses a study done on playing Rock, Paper, Scissors with one player blindfolded and one able to see. Who comes out on top?

Duration: 04:41

Sep 28, 2014
Ludology Episode 88 - Small Booth, Big Dreams

Ryan and Geoff are pleased to be joined by Travis Chance and Nick Little of Action Phase game, designers of Heroes Wanted.  This was the first time Action Phase has exhibited at Gencon, and we discuss what it was like.  When did they get their booth? How much planning did they do? What was the total cost to do the show? What worked and what didn't?

Duration: 01:12:05


Sep 21, 2014
GameTek Classic 87 - AI

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses Artificial Intelligence, and how it affects our play.

Duration: 06:15

Sep 14, 2014
Ludology Episode 87 - Come On Down!

Geoff finally acquiesces to Ryan's wish to discuss game shows. And you know what? It turned out to be a very fertile area for analysis.  What special considerations are there for game shows? What can game designers learn from them?

Duration: 01:08:58


Sep 07, 2014
GameTek Classic 86 - Watson

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about IBM's Jeopardy-playing Watson, and how it fits into the history of Artificial Intelligence research.

Duration: 06:10

Aug 17, 2014
Ludology Episode 86 - Get Real

Ryan and Geoff are joined by guest Andrew Tullsen of Print & Play productions to discuss prototypes. What are the different types of prototypes? What are the tools and techniques to create them in a simple yet professinoal manner?

Duration: 1:08:58

Aug 10, 2014
GameTek Classic 85 - Fair Dice

In this classic GameTek, Geoff investigates the true randomness of dice.

Duration: 06:15

Aug 03, 2014
Ludology Episode 85 - Lucky Break

Ryan and Geoff dip back into the mail bag to respond to more listener comments and questions about luck and randomness.

Duration: 1:00:31

Jul 27, 2014
GameTek Classic 84 - Your Brain On Shogi

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses brain imaging studies on shogi players.

For images relating to this story, check out Geoff's blog entry on BoardgameGeek.

Duration: 06:58

Jul 20, 2014
Ludology Episode 84 - The Playtest's The Thing

Ryan and Geoff are joined by guest Gil Hova, designer of Prolix and Battle Merchants to discuss playtesting.

What are the different types of playtests? How do you get the most out of your testing? What should you look for in testers?

Duration: 01:10:38

NOTE: This is a revised version of this episode that corrects the audio issue.

Jul 13, 2014
GameTek Classic 83 - Tournaments

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses tournament structure in sports, and the way that may effect the play of the individual games.

Duration: 06:54

Jul 06, 2014
Ludology Episode 83 - All Work And No Place Make Games A Dull Toy

Ryan and Geoff do a deep dive into the world of Worker Placement games. What makes them tick? Why would designers use that mechanism? What are the pitfalls to avoid?

Duration: 01:06:39

Jun 29, 2014
GameTek Classic 82 - Inflation

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about how games can teach us about economics.

Duration: 07:13

Jun 22, 2014
Ludology Episode 82 - Party, Party, Evolution

Ryan and Geoff are very pleased to welcome Dominic Crapuchettes to Ludology! We discuss designing party games, dealing with mass market retailers, starting a game company, and their recent pivot into the strategy market with Evolution.

Duration: 01:11:30

Jun 15, 2014
GameTek Classic 81 - Shuffling

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about shuffling, big numbers, uniqueness, and the origin of life.

Duration: 07:35

Jun 08, 2014
Ludology Episode 81 - Random Acts of Kindness

Ryan and Geoff respond to a random sampling of the listener questions about luck and randomness. Thanks to all who sent in your thoughts, comments, and questions!

Duration: 01:07:06


Jun 01, 2014
GameTek Classic 80 - Competence

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the psychological property called Competence, and how you can use it to annoy people.

Duration: 06:47

May 25, 2014
Ludology Episode 80 - Influenza

Ryan and Geoff take one last look at the Most Influential Games of the 20th Century. Do they have any second thoughts? Any overlooked games that should have been included?

They also put on their pointy prognosticator caps and give their picks for the top 10 games that will be most influential on the 21st century.


May 18, 2014
GameTek 79 - Willpower

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about recent research on willpower.

Duration: 07:00

Apr 27, 2014
Ludology Episode 79 - The Magic Circle

Ryan and Geoff are pleased to welcome back Eric Zimmerman, professor at NYU's Game Center and author of The Rules of Play. This episode we discuss the concept of the "magic circle" and how designers can foster and benefit from it.

Duration: 01:24:56

Apr 20, 2014
GameTek 78 - Criticism

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about the state of game criticisim.

Duration: 10:53

Apr 13, 2014
Ludology Episode 78 - Here We Are Now, Entertain Us

Ryan and Geoff conclude their survey of the most influential games with the 90's. Which games have cast shadows into the 21st century?

Duration: 01:20

Apr 06, 2014
GameTek 77 - Patronage

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses Kickstarter, and it's links with the concept of Patronage, in the past and future.

Duration: 06:47

Mar 30, 2014
Ludology Epiosde 77 - Board To Bits

Ryan and Geoff are very pleased to be joined by guest Keith Burgun of DinoFarm games and author of Game Design Theory.  Keith is the designer of a variety of mobile games, including 100 Rogues, Empire, and the upcoming Auro, all of which have a true board game flavor to them.

We discuss the relationship between board games and video games, and using board games design techniques to prototype and inform the video game design space.

Duration: 01:37:27

Mar 23, 2014
GameTek 76 - Copyright and Trademark

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the different types of intellectual property protection available to authors and companies.

Duration: 06:48

Mar 16, 2014
Ludology Episode 76 - I Like Dice To Roll

Ryan and Geoff continue their series on the most influential games of all time, and take a look at the 1980's.  What were the key games when we all weren't trying to unscramble our Rubik's Cubes?

Mar 09, 2014
GameTek 75 - 3D Printing

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the impact 3D printing technology may have on the game hobby.

Duration: 07:30

Mar 02, 2014
Ludology Episode 75 - Gray's Ludology

Ryan and Geoff are very excited to be joined by special guest Mike Gray. Mike has a long history in the game industry, working for Milton Bradley, TSR, and Hasbro.  He designed Fortress America, Shogun, The Omega Virus, and many other classics during his tenure.  Mike gives us a fascinating glimpse into the world of the largest game publisher, including the genesis of the Gamemaster series, acquisition of Avalon Hill, and development of modern classics like Queen's Gambit.

Duration: 01:14:45

Feb 23, 2014
GameTek 74 - Endings

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the importance of endings, and the difference between "the experiencing self" and "the remembering self."

One of Geoff's favorites!

Duration: 06:06

Feb 16, 2014
Ludology Episode 74 - Boardgame Wonderland

Ryan and Geoff continue their series on the most influential games of all time, and take a look at the 1970's.  What were the key moments in the decade of disco?

Duration: 01:21:58

Feb 09, 2014
GameTek 73 - Power Creep

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about Power Creep. Is it a big conspiracy? Or is there a less nefarious explanation?

Duration: 06:19

Feb 02, 2014
Ludology Episode 73 - Icon of Clarity

Ryan and Geoff are joined by JVMF-auction winner Chaz Marler, to discuss the use of icons in games. Why use icons? What games have useful icons, and others not so much?  And what is Geoff's suggestion for the Dice Tower musical episode?

Duration: 01:17:28

Jan 26, 2014
GameTek 72 - Playtesting

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at playtesting. What are the different types of playtesting, and how do they fall short?

Jan 19, 2014
Ludology Episode 72 - Under The Influence Part 1

And we're back!! Ryan and Geoff kick off the new year with a new series: The Most Influential Games.

Part 1 covers 1900 - 1969.  What are the most influential games from these years?

Duration: 1:08:47

Jan 12, 2014
Ludology Episode 71 - Dude, Where's My Map?

Geoff and Ryan are joined by Steve Kendall of the Ragnar Brothers and designer of History of the World, Viking Fury, and more, to discuss Area Control or 'Dudes on a Map' games. What are the outstanding examples? What are the key ingredients of this genre? What are the strengths and weaknesses?

Duration: 01:17:12

Dec 15, 2013
GameTek 70 - Betrayer's Banquet

NEW CONTENT! Geoff talks with Quintin Smith of Shut Up and Sit Down about his recent experience at The Betrayer's Banquet, a Prisoner's Dilemma-themed dinner party.  Does backstabbing improve the taste of chicken feet?

Duration: 22:56

Dec 08, 2013
Ludology Episode 70 - Risky Business

Ryan and Geoff are joined by Rob Daviau, of Iron Wall Games, and formerly with Hasbro. While at Hasbro Rob worked on a slew of games you know, including Heroscape, Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Axis and Allies.

But we've invited him on to discuss his 'Legacy' series of games, starting with Risk: Legacy, and the upcoming Seafall.  How did he come up with the idea for Risk: Legacy? What were the design challenges and blind alleys he overcame? What is he trying to do differently with Seafall?

Duration: 01:15:15

Dec 01, 2013
GameTek Classic 69 - Wild West Showdown

In this classic GameTek, the GameTek players present "Wild West Showdown". Who will win this three-sided gunfight... of doom?

Duration: 07:44

Nov 24, 2013
Ludology Episode 69 - Area 69

Hot on the heels of talking about Set Collection, Ryan and Geoff tackle its cousin, Area Majority, a mechanic which comes wearing many disguises.  How does it differ from Set Collection? What makes it work or not?

Duration: 01:11:12

Nov 17, 2013
GameTek Classic 68 - Gamification

In this classic GameTek episode, Geoff talks about gamification, specifically the way that it is used by to use game mechanics to solve real world problems.

Duration: 06:32

Nov 10, 2013
Ludology Epsiode 68 - Game, Set, Match

In this episode Ryan and Geoff discuss Set Collection as a tool for game designers. What attributes can set collection add to a game? What are some of the pitfalls? What games have used it well or badly?

Duration 1:04:32

Nov 03, 2013
GameTek Classic 67 - Chaos

In the classic GameTek, Geoff talks about Chaos Theory, and how it is reflected in game design.

Duration: 06:54

Oct 27, 2013
Ludology Episode 67 - The Games Robots Play

In this episode, Geoff interviews Frank Merrick from FIRST about using games to get kids excited about science and technology. What are the special considerations when designing a game to be educational, fun, and challenging?

Duration: 34:15

Oct 20, 2013
GameTek Classic 66 - Blindfolds and Boxes

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about two recent research results about choice.

Duration: 5:15

Oct 13, 2013
Ludology Episode 66 - Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?

Ryan and Geoff are joined by special guest Corey Koneiczka of Fantasy Flight Games designer of such classics as Battlestar Galactica, Mansions of Madness, and the upcoming Eldritch Horror. The topic? Expansions! Are they good or bad for the industry? Do you design a game with expansions in mind or bolt things on afterwards? What are the do's and don't's of expansions?

 Duration: 01:03:29

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Scott King Photography, for all of your game photographing needs!

Oct 06, 2013
GameTek Classic 65 - Planetary Dice

How are dice and planets connected? Listen to this classic GameTek and find out!

Duration: 06:47

Sep 29, 2013
Ludology Episode 65 - The Envelope Please!

Ryan and Geoff dedicate the entire show to reviewing their top 10 entries to the Dice Tower Network / Cool Stuff Inc contest, and announce the winner!

Duration: 01:00:44

Sep 22, 2013
GameTek Classic 64 - Fuzzy Logic

In this classic GameTek, Geoff explores fuzzy logic and how it applies to our attempts to categorize games - and everything else in the world.

Duration: 07:45

Sep 15, 2013
Ludology Episode 64 - The ABC's of CCG's

Ryan and Geoff are joined by guest Mike Fitzgerald. Mike is the designer of a variety of card games including the Mystery Rummy series and Hooyah, but also spent many years working on CCGs like Wyvern, Magic, and Pokemon.  Mike joins us to discuss the early history of CCGs, how they changed the gaming industry, and what special design techniques are required for the CCG and LCG arenas.

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Nations, the new publication from Nations will be released at Essen 2013.

Duration: 01:14:12

Sep 08, 2013
GameTek Classic 63 - Interview with Bob Abbott

In this classic GameTek, Ryan and Geoff interview game designer Bob Abbott, designer of classic games like Confusion, Eleusis, and Code 777.

Duration: 09:29

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Nations, the new publication from Nations will be released at Essen 2013.

Sep 01, 2013
Ludology Episode 63 - Set Your Phases To Fun

Ryan and Geoff take a very high level look at the structure of games - the phases and turns that make them tick. What structures were there in ancient games? How has this changed over time? How does the structure selected by the designer influence the game experience?

We also launch our portion of the big Dice Tower Network contest! Big prizes at stake!

Duration: 01:17:47

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Nations, the new publication from Nations will be released at Essen 2013.

Aug 25, 2013
GameTek Classic 62: Flipping Probability

In this classic GameTek, Geoff shares a technique for making it simpler to calculate probabilities in your head.

Duration: 06:06

Aug 18, 2013
Ludology Episode 62 - Gone Digital

Ryan and Geoff are joined by John Meindersee of Campfire Creations, to talk about the special challenges in creating digital versions of boardgames.  Campfire Creations developed the iOS version of Stone Age, and John shares the details of the challenges and opportunities that presented.

Duration: 1:16:04

Aug 11, 2013
GameTek Classic 61: Choices

Meaningful decisions are what drive deep strategy games. But can there be too much of a good thing? Can having too many choices hinder our ability to make good, or any, decisions?

Duration: 06:42

Aug 04, 2013
Ludology Episode 61 - Listener Spectacularerer

In this third listener question episode, Ryan and Geoff respond to a veritable panoply of user questions, and field them with their usual combination of aplomb and pithy aphorisms.

Duration: 1:04:57

Jul 28, 2013
GameTek Classic 60: PokerBots

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about PokerBots: How they are programmed, why they're a problem, and how to detect them.

Duration: 04:54

Jul 21, 2013
Ludology Episode 60 - How To "How To Play"

Rules! Every game has them, but they are a big source of gamer frustration.  Ryan and Geoff put their heads together to come up with rules for rules.

What makes for a good set of rules? What are common pitfalls? How should they be structured? What should be highlighted? 

Duration: 01:13:35

Jul 14, 2013
GameTek Classic 59 - Man vs Machine

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about the difference between playing a human vs an AI opponent. Do we act and feel differently about the game? If so, why?

Duration: 5:58

Jul 07, 2013
Ludology Episode 59 - Hey! That's Mine!

As humans we overvalue losing something and undervalue gaining it. This is called Loss Aversion, and is a well studied psychological effect.

How do games incorporate Loss Aversion? How does it affect us as players, and how can game designers use it to create a more emotional and engaging experience?  When can Loss Aversion hurt a game rather than help it?

Duration: 58:22

Jun 30, 2013
GameTek Classic 58 - Player Engagement

In this classic GameTek episode, Geoff discusses long games and how to keep players engaged for many hours. What are the different types of engagment, which are effective, and which are mentally taxing?

Duration: 05:52

Jun 23, 2013
Ludology Episode 58 - Back to Basics?

Ryan proposes a radical change to the mechanics of Trading in the Mediterranean to simplify and smooth our the gameplay, and Geoff wants to talk about it.  Will it throw the baby out with the bathwater? What is the heart of the game?

Duration: 1:16:05

Jun 16, 2013
GameTek Classic 57 - Endowed Progress

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at car washes and the Endowed Progress Effect. How can we use it to get players more engaged in a game?

Duration: 05:30

Jun 09, 2013
Ludology Episode 57 - Goal!

Ryan and Geoff tackle the concept of an 'objective' in a game - not just end game objectives, but techniques for building a series of mini-objectives to keep the player engaged and the game moving forward.

What types of objectives work well? What is the difference between public, private, and hidden objectives, and how do those interact?

Duration: 01:17:54

Jun 02, 2013
GameTek Classic 56 - Gamification

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about how businesses are trying to use games to appeal to customers.

Duration: 07:25

May 26, 2013
Ludology Episode 56 - License to Thrill

Licnesed games like X-Wing and the upcoming Star Trek: Attack Wing are hugely popular. But how is designing a game with a license different?  Ryan and Geoff are pleased to welcome back guest Andrew Parks to delve into these questions. Andrew is the designer of a wide variety of licensed games, including The Nightmare Before Christmas TCG, 300, Hogwarts House Cup, Hunger Games District 12, and the upcoming Star Trek: Attack Wing.

How do you invoke the theme of the licensed property? Does it make game design simpler or more challenging? How much is dictated by the licensing company?

Answers to all of these questions, plus tons of spoilers about Attack Wing and a very special Core Worlds reveal!

Duration: 01:02

May 19, 2013
GameTek Classic 55 - Intransitive Dice

In this classic GameTek, Geoff looks at intransitive dice - Dice where die A tends to beat die B, which tends to beat die C, which tends to beat die A.

This was a big topic of discussion on the Dice Tower form when it was first released, so please continue the conversation over on the Ludology forums!

Duration: 08:28

May 12, 2013
Ludology Episode 55 - The Box is Half Full

Ryan and Geoff reivew the status of "Trading in the Mediterranean", their publicly-developed board game. After talking about the current version and how it has evolved, they talk about what's working and what's not, and how to fix it.

Duration: 01:13:50

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Sissyfight 2000, now on Kickstarter!

May 05, 2013
GameTek Classic 54 - Designing Word Games

In this classic GameTek, Geoff interviews Gil Hova, who designed the game Prolix, about the different concerns in designing a word game versus other genres of games.

Duration: 26:35

Apr 28, 2013
Ludology Episode 54 - The Long and the Short of it.

Ryan and Geoff discuss the interplay between short and long-term objectives in games. How can designers use these to create a richer game experience? What impact do they have on complexity and the learning curve?

Duration: 01:04:15

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Relic Expedition, currently on Kickstarter!

Apr 21, 2013
GameTek Classic 53 - Quantum Tic-Tac-Toe

In this classic GameTek, Geoff continues talking about Entanglement and quantum physics by introducing the game Quantum Tic-Tac-Toe.  Check out the full rules on Wikipedia, which also links to several online implementations.

Duration: 06:54

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Relic Expedition, currently on Kickstarter!

Apr 14, 2013
Ludology Episode 53 - PAX Ludologica

This special episode of Ludology is a recording of a game design panel Geoff particiated in at PAX East 2013, in Boston. The topic was "Impact of Video Game Design Techniques on Board Games".

Joining Geoff were Christopher Badell, designer of Sentinels of the Multiverse, Colby Dauch, designer of Summoner Wars, Matt Morgan, writer for Wired GeekDad, and Russ Wakelin of the D6 Generation.

Duration: 1:05

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Relic Expedition, currently on Kickstarter!

Apr 07, 2013
GameTek Classic 52 - Entanglement

In this classic Gametek, Geoff talks about Entanglement, Quantum Mechanics, and why our intuition about probability can be woefully incorrect. One of Geoff's favorite episodes!

Duration: 09:00

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Relic Expedition, currently on Kickstarter!

Mar 31, 2013
Ludology Episode 52 - Let's Make a Deal!

This episode Ryan and Geoff tackle games that feature negotiation, either as a designed-in feature, or a by-product of the player interactions. What features make for a great negotiation game?  What types of player experiences can they engender? Can Ryan get Geoff to agree to anything?

Duration: 1:13:10

This episode of Ludology is sponsored by Relic Expedition, currently on Kickstarter!

Mar 24, 2013
GameTek Classic 51 - Regret

In this classic GameTek, Geoff examines regret - why we would rather not make a choice at all, rather than make it and have it not work out.

Duration: 6:26

Mar 17, 2013
Ludology Episode 51 - 50 for 50, Part 2

Ryan and Geoff return with the second half of their new games for 2012. Plus their top picks for the year!

Duration 1:20:55

This episode is sponsored by the game Influence, now on Kickstarter!

Mar 10, 2013
GameTek Classic 50 - Monty Hall

In this classic GameTek, Geoff introduces the Monty Hall problem, an old chestnut that never fails to amaze those who have not heard it before.

Duration: 08:25

This episode is sponsored by the game Influence, now on Kickstarter!

Mar 03, 2013
Ludology Episode 50 - 50 for 50, Part 1

To celebrate the 50th episode of Ludology, Ryan and Geoff talk about 50 games that were new to them in 2012:  The good, the bad, and the design features that stood out.

Duration: 1:10

This episode is sponsored by the game Influence, now on Kickstarter!

Feb 24, 2013
GameTek Classic 49 - Martin Gardner

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about Martin Gardner, who wrote the Mathematical Games column for Scientific American magazine from the mid 50's to the 1980's, and passed away in 2010.

Duration: 06:36

Feb 17, 2013
Ludology Episode 49 - The Joke's On You!

Ryan and Geoff are joined by guest Zack Johnson, designer of the online game Kingdom of Loathing, to discuss the use (and misuse) of humor in games. How is humor used in games? Are there special considerations for making a game funny? Is Geoff capable of telling a joke?

Duration: 58:40

Feb 10, 2013
GameTek Classic 48 - High Society

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a close look under the hood at the Reiner Knizia game High Society, to tease out what makes it such a dynamic and engaging design.

Duration: 6:35

Feb 03, 2013
Ludology Episode 48 - Fun with Feedback

No, not listener feedback - Feedback loops. What are the different types of feedback, and how do designers incorporate them into games? Do certain types of games benefit from feedback? Is feedback necessary for a rich game experience?

Duration: 1:06

Jan 27, 2013
GameTek Classic 47 - Worrying

In this GameTek from 2010, Geoff and his son Brian talk about what they are worried about as their game The Ares Project nears publication. Special bonus recap of how on target we were!

Duration: 8:50

Jan 20, 2013
Ludology Episode 47 - State of Games 2013

In our first episode of the new year, we are joined by the godfather of gaming, Tom Vasel, to dissect 2012 and speculate on the direction of the industry in the upcoming year.

Jan 13, 2013
Ludology Episode 46 - Getting Down to Brass Tracks

For the final full episode of 2012, Ryand and Geoff are very pleased to welcome Martin Wallace to the program, designer of such classics as Age of Steam, Brass, and Runebound.

We discuss Mr. Wallace's design approach and philosophy, and dig deeply into Age of Steam and Brass. Big question of the episode - Can Ryan keep his fanboy gushing in check? Listen and find out! (Spoiler alert: No.)

Duration: 56:45

Dec 16, 2012
GameTek Classic 45 - Writing Rules

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about the art of rules writing. Why is it hard? What options are available to the designer?

Duration: 10:15

Dec 09, 2012
Ludology Episode 45 - Emergence

Ryan and Geoff are very pleased to welcome Eric Zimmerman of the NYU Game Center, and author of the book Rules of Play. Yes, that's three links in one sentence, but Eric is worth it!  

After a brief overview of Eric's work at NYU, the gang dives into a discussion of Emergence, when the unexpected emerges from a basic set of rules. What conditions are more likely to result in emergence? Can a designer truly design in emergent behavior? And is it important for a good game, anyway?

Duration: 1:08

Dec 02, 2012
Ludology Episode 44a - The Rubber Meets the Road

Finally! Ryan corrals his buddies into trying Trading in the Mediterranean, and records their thoughts afterwards. 

Reviewing the rules, cards, and other playtest materials may be helpful to understanding this episode.

Duration: 33:30

Nov 25, 2012
Ludology Episode 44 - All For One and One For All

Ryan and Geoff welcome special guest Christopher Badell, designer of Sentinels of the Multiverse and one of the principals of Greater Than Games.  We have a wide-ranging discussion about starting and growing a small game publishing company, specifically for a 'Single Game Game Company'.

How does just having a single game system impact the marketing, growth, and design direction for a publisher? Is it good to have focus, or do you get pigeon-holed? When is Kickstarter good for a small publisher, and when is it bad?

Duration: 56:45

Nov 18, 2012
GameTek Classic 43 - Rules for Robots

In this classic GameTek from February 2010, Geoff introduces the FIRST Robotics competition and the way the program is structured around games.

Duration: 8:54

Nov 11, 2012
Ludology Episode 43 - Twilight Snuggle

Ryan stays up past his bedtime as he and Geoff welcome special guest Jason Matthews to the show.  Jason is the codesigner of Twilight Struggle, 1960, Founding Fathers, 1989, and other great political games.  What makes Twilight Struggle tick? What special considersations are required for the design of political games?

Duration: 55:00

Nov 04, 2012
GameTek Classic 42 - Gifting

In this classic GameTek from January of 2010, Geoff discusses the economics of gift-giving, and some games that explore gift exchanges.

Duration: 06:45

Oct 28, 2012
Ludology Episode 42a - TradeMed Trade Goods

Ryan and Geoff get down in the weeds to discuss the details of the cards and card mix in Trading in the Mediterranean.  How will the trade goods relate to the ideas? How will they be acquired? How many of each combination should there be?  Hopefully this is more interesting than it sounds.

Duration: 24:00

Oct 21, 2012
Ludology Episode 42 - Speedy Delivery!

Ryan and Geoff are joined by special guest Eric Summerer for a deep dive into Pick Up and Deliver games. What are some of the best examples of this genre? What makes them appealing? When do they work, and when do they fail? Will Eric make it through the Lightning Round?

All these questions and more, will be answered!

Duration: 1:08

Oct 14, 2012
GameTek Classic 41 - Multitouch Tables Revisited

In this GameTek from December of 2009, Geoff discusses advances in 'multitouch table' technology, tech which eventually found it's way into tablets like the iPad.

Duration: 07:45

Oct 07, 2012
Ludology Episode 41 - Listener Spectacular 2

Ryan and Geoff tackle some more listener questions in the aptly named 'Listener Spectacular 2'.

Duration: 55:57

Sep 30, 2012
GameTek Classic 40 - Emergent Behavior

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at rules. Can you learn everything there is to know about a game just by reading the rules?

Duration: 07:00

Sep 23, 2012
Ludology Epsiode 40 - Games Teach

Ryan and Geoff are joined by special guest Giles Pritchard to discuss the use of games in the classroom. Both Ryan and Giles teach kids ages 8-11, and have extensively used games to augment the traditional curriculum.

Geoff has taught no one, and is happy to moderate and share embarassing stories about his childhood.

In addition, Ryan discusses his new venture Games Teach, which is designed to spread the use of games by creative teachers, and is launching on Kickstarter on September 18th.

Duration 1:22

Sep 18, 2012
Ludology Episode 39a - The Violence Inherent In The System

Ryan and Geoff continue brainstorming on Trading in the Mediterranean, trying to zero in on how different types of governments and social factors can be incorporated into the design.

Duration: 28:00

Sep 09, 2012
Ludology Episode 39 - Roll and Move

After a brief summer break, the Ludology team is back!

In this episode, Ryan and Geoff discuss Roll and Move games, including their history, what they do well, and what they do poorly. What attempts have been made to bring roll and move into the modern era? What has worked and what hasn't? Is there a place for roll and move in the game designer's toolbox?

Duration: 1:14:00

Sep 02, 2012
Ludology Episode 38a - Ideas about Ideas

Ryan and Geoff continue their development of Trading in the Mediterranean, working to flesh out how to include 'ideas' in the game.

Duration: 48:00

Aug 12, 2012
Ludology Episode 38 - You Are Here

Ryan and Geoff talk about maps, geography, and spatial relations in game design.

Duration: 1:25:15

Aug 05, 2012
Ludology Episode 37a - Trading in the Mediterranean

In place of the 'Classic GameTek' segment that we normally post in between full episodes of Ludology, we are posting some bonus content about the design process for Trading in the Mediterranean.

Make sure you let us know what you think about Ryan's "interesting" idea for voyages!

Duration: 38:00

Jul 29, 2012
Ludology Episode 37 - The Empty Box

In this episode, Ryan and Geoff discuss different approaches to starting a new game design. And then, they embark on a grand project of their own, designing a game of their own!

Duration: 1:04:30

Jul 22, 2012
GameTek Classic 36 - NP Complete

In this classic GameTek segment Geoff talks about NP Complete problems in mathematics, and the ways that certain problems can be transformed into others.

Duration: 06:00

(Yes, I know there was no GameTek Classic 35. Real Life got in the way a few weeks ago, and I decided to keep the numbering in sync with the Ludology numbering for simplicity)

Jul 15, 2012
Ludology Episode 36 - Case Study: Ticket To Ride

Ryan and Geoff take a close analytical look at Alan Moon's Ticket To Ride, and lift up the hood to figure out what makes it tick.  What design decisions set it apart from similar games?  How does it draw on Moon's earlier work? And what does it do better than other mainstream euro games like Settlers of Catan?

Duration: 01:15

Jul 09, 2012
Ludology Episode 35 - The Social Milieu

In this episode Ryan and Geoff analyze the environment that games create. Some games tend to be very competitive and tense, and others light and social. What pushes gameplay in these directions? What should game designers look for if they want to create a specific environment for the players?

Duration: 1:30:53

Jun 24, 2012
GameTek Classic 34 - Design and Creativity

In this classic GameTek, Geoff and Brian continue to talk about The Ares Project, and the design challenges they faced. They specifically discuss designing with constraints as a way to spark creative solutions.

Duration: 6:00

Jun 17, 2012
Ludology Episode 34 - The Good, The Bad, and The Random

Ryan and Geoff take a look at the use of uncertainty and randomness in games. What works and what doesn't? When should you have more randomness and when less?

Duration: 1:09:45

Jun 10, 2012
GameTek Classic 33 - Intro to The Ares Project

In this classic GameTek, Geoff announces that he is going to publishing a game with Z-Man Games called - wait for it - The Ares Project.  This was originally broadcast in August of 2009 on Dice Tower episode 154.

Duration: 07:15

Jun 03, 2012
Ludology Episode 33 - Pandamonium!

This episode Ryan and Geoff are very pleased to welcome Michael Lee, founder and co-owner of Panda Games, manufacturer of games like Pandemic and Eclipse, to discuss the nuts and bolts of actually getting a physical game into the world.

Duration: 1:10:50

May 27, 2012
GameTek Classic 32 - Push Your Luck

In this GameTek segment Geoff looks at the math behind Push Your Luck games. When another roll is one roll too many...

This was originally broadcast in Dice Tower episode 143 in March of 2009.

Duration: 05:50

May 20, 2012
Ludology Episode 32 - Critical Mass

Ryan and Geoff tackle reviews and criticism. What are the different types? What drives people to write reviews? How do people use them? Do game reviews need to differ from film or book reviews? All these questions, and more, are discussed, dear listener, in this latest episode of Ludology.

Duration: 1:05

May 13, 2012
GameTek Classic 31 - Trading Games

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about the characteristics of a good trading game. What drives the gameplay? How much does value need to be obscured? Is it better or worse to have stuff worth more to some players than others?

Duration: 5 minutes

May 06, 2012
Ludology Episode 31 - Interview with William Attia

Ryan and Geoff conduct a 'virtual interview' with William Attia, the designer, most notably, of Caylus.  Ryan declares that Caylus is the "most important game since Puerto Rico". Can he support that bold contention?

Note: This file has corrected the 'stereo' issue with the earlier posting.

May 05, 2012
GameTek Classic - PBEM History

Well before the current wave of online boardgames, both web-based and mobile, Geoff reflected on his experience with PBEM gaming back in the dark ages in this classic GameTek episode.


Apr 22, 2012
Ludology Episode 30 - Listener Spectacular

Geoff and Ryan field several listener questions this episode, weighing in on quite a diverse range of topics. To add to the difficulty, Ryan responds to all questions with the flu.

Length: 1:01

Apr 15, 2012
Ludology Bonus Episode - Hot and Cold

In this classic GameTek Geoff looks at research linking temperature to social interactions. When should you give your opponents a cup of coffee instead of a soda?

We have also started a new file naming scheme with this episode that hopefully will meet everyone's needs.

Apr 08, 2012
Ludology Episode 29 - Sold!

Ryan and Geoff continue their discussion of the Auction mechanic. How much should the true value of what you're bidding on be hidden? And how can that be done? Plus, mechanics that really are auctions but don't look like one, and the Sturm Theory of Unified Prioritization.

Apr 02, 2012
Ludology Bonus Episode - Visibility

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses the concept of Visibility in computer games versus board games, using the PC game Armageddon Empires as a case study. How do board games and computer games differ in the way they present information to players?

Note that this was put out many years before smart phones, so there are many more boardgame implementations that you can carry around on a portable device. But the contrast still remains relevant.

Mar 25, 2012
Ludology Episode 28 - Going, Going, Gone

Ryan and Geoff begin their two-part exploration of auction mechanics. Auctions are a part of many games, sometimes just as a minor role, and sometimes as the star.

What are the advantages of the auction mechanic? What are the different ways it can be implemented? And what would we like to see more and less of?

49' 26"

Mar 18, 2012
Ludology Bonus Episode - Graph Theory

This classic GameTek was originally broadcast during a Dice Tower episode on Train Games. Geoff explores the connections (get it - connections?) between creating rail networks and the branch of mathematics called Graph Theory.

5' 35"

Mar 12, 2012
Ludology Episode 27 - Case Study: Eclipse

In this episode, Ryan and Geoff look at the hot new space game Eclipse as a way of revisiting topics from prior shows. How does Eclipse handle issues like multiple strategies, turn sequence, and victory points? What works and what doesn't? Please join us for an in depth exploration of the design of Eclipse.

Mar 04, 2012
Ludology Bonus Episode - Evolution

In this classic GameTek, Geoff examines games about evolution. Which work, and which don't, and do any of them accurately capture the key concepts of evolutionary science?

Feb 26, 2012
Ludology Episode 26 - Epic Games

Ryan and Geoff are joined by Dr. Lewis Pulsipher to talk about games that feel epic.  What features are required for a game to feel epic? Can a short game be epic? Is it impossible to make an epic game about certain topics?

Dr. Pulsipher is the designer of Britannia, and a noted writer on game theory.  

Feb 19, 2012
Ludology Bonus Episode - Past, Present, and Future

In this classic GameTek, Geoff takes a look at hot streaks, cold streaks, and our predisposition to see patterns in what is actually random data.

Feb 12, 2012
Ludology Episode 25 - Sports Spectacular!

Today is Superbowl Sunday, and Team Ludology is tackling sports boardgames with guests Cody Jones and John Richard from Game On with Cody & John.  Are there game design challenges particular to sports games? What has worked and what doesn't? And what do we want to see more of?  All your questions will be answered in this action packed episode! (Well, not really, but some questions and a bit of action).

Feb 05, 2012
Ludology Bonus Episode - Voting

In this GameTek from 2008 Geoff discusses voting in general, and the specific voting system in the United States. Do the rules in the United States lead towards a two-party system? Or is it possible for a third party to have a shot at the presidency?

(Note: This podcast is not endorsing any particular party or candidate. It is merely a discussion of the 'rules' of voting and how that may impact results)

Jan 29, 2012
Episode 24 - State of The Game Hobby, 2012

A bit of a departure for Ludology, as we take a more topical look at the state of the gaming hobby as we move into the new year.

To give a business perspective, Ryan and Geoff are joined by industry insider Stephen Buonocore of Stronghold Games. Ryan believes we are at a 'fulcrum', trading quality for quantity, and is concerned for the future. Do Geoff and Stephen agree? And what does all this have to do with the movie industry?

Jan 22, 2012
Bonus Episode - Prospect Theory

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about how people approach gains and losses differently. This peculiarity of human psychology is the basis for Prospect Theory, developed by Kahneman and Tversky in the 1970's.

Jan 15, 2012
Episode 23 - Arts and Crafts

We are pleased to welcome special guest Russ Wakelin, from The D6 Generation to discuss graphic design. The graphic design of a game can have a huge impact on the playability of the game and our enjoyment. What do we look for in great graphic design? What games have excellent graphic design and which are lacking?

Jan 08, 2012
Bonus Episode - Expectation Value

Are the kids out of school yet? If so, here's a bonus GameTek that is sure to keep their math skills freshly honed during the break. Geoff discusses how to estimate the 'Expectation Value' and how you can use that to help your gaming.

Dec 18, 2011
Episode 22 - Games vs Simulations

Ryan and Geoff are pleased to be joined by special guest Phil Eklund, designer of many games including High Frontier and Origins: How We Became Human.  

We discuss designing games as simulations, rather than just as games. What are the specific design challenges that are faced? How do you balance accuracy, playability, and fun?  And can novel things be learned from a game?

Dec 11, 2011
Bonus Episode - Chess Ratings

Following up on the last bonus GameTek episode about Regression Towards the Mean, Geoff discusses the USCF chess rating system with it's developer, Dr. Mark Glickman.  How are they calculated? How is the system designed to prevent 'gaming' the system? And once again we tackle the question of how you know if you're getting better or not.

Dec 04, 2011
Episode 21 - Innovation vs Reinterpretation

It's Thanksgiving in the USA, so everything is bigger than usual. In this supersized 90 minute Ludology, Ryan and Geoff tackle the question of innovation in games. Where does innovation come from? What games are innovative and which build on existing mechanics?  Is it possible for a game to be too innovative?

Plus Ryan and Geoff reveal their picks for the most innovative game of the modern era. Do you agree?

Nov 27, 2011
Bonus Episode - Regression Towards the Mean

Why do we get worse after we get better? In this classic GameTek Geoff explores the concept of 'Regression Towards the Mean', and tries to figure out how we can really tell if we're improving or just getting lucky.

Nov 20, 2011
Episode 20 - The Point of Victory

In the episode, Geoff & Ryan discuss Victory Points - What are the different ways they are used? What works and what doesn't? Are they a crutch for lazy design or a useful tool in the arsenal of the game designer?

Nov 13, 2011
Bonus Episode - Group Think

In this classic GameTek Geoff talks about Group Think in games - what causes it, and different ways to think about it.

Nov 06, 2011
Episode 19 - Two's Company, Three's a Crowd

With Geoff out of commission due to a freak snowstorm, Mark Johnson steps up to the plate to join Ryan in a discussion of two versus three player games. What are the differences? What design choices does player count present the designer? 

Nov 03, 2011
Bonus Episode - Shuffling

In this classic GameTek, Geoff discusses shuffling - A little of the math behind it, how online shuffling works, and a brief glimpse into the science of thermodynamics. Not bad for five minutes!

Oct 23, 2011
Episode 18 - Research Through Gaming

Ryan and Geoff interview Dr. Luke Rendell of the University of St. Andrews.  Dr. Rendell's team conducts research on social learning and the spread of ideas and culture throughout society. To assist in their reserach they ran a tournament in 2009 where anyone could submit a strategy to play a game based on social learning.

Dr. Rendell is now sponsoring a new tournament with some added depth to the game, this time with a 25,000 euro prize. for the best solutions.

We invited Dr. Rendell to join us to discuss the role of gaming in research, what they have learned from the prior tournament, and possible pitfalls.

If you are interested in learning more about the competition, including full game rules, please check out the link here.

Note that this time they are having a special 1,000 euro prize for the best performing strategy submitted by a a school class (through high school), so if you are a teacher this may be an excellent project for a group of interested students.

Oct 16, 2011
Bonus Episode - The Giant Dice Tower

Back in 2009 Geoff interviewed Scott Nesin, builder of a Dice Tower capable of rolling 1.3 million dice per day. What inspired him to take on a project like that?

Check out the video before listening to the inteview:

Oct 09, 2011
Episode 17 - Monogamers and Miniatures

In this episode, Ryan and Geoff are joined by special guest Norbert Brunhuber, who is very active in the Warmachine/Hordes community.  The discussion centers around two topics:

'Monogamers' - those who play only a single game or game system (not gamers who have mono!). What is necessary in a game that will hold someone's interest for years? Why do some people prefer a single game system and others want to play a different game every week?

Miniature Gaming - what is the appeal? What are the differences between board and miniature games, and where is there crossover?

Oct 02, 2011
Bonus Episode - Social Learning Strategies Tournament

Back in 2008 Geoff talked about a tournament to learn about how individuals interact within a social group.  He and his family submitted an entry, but sadly did not win the 10,000 euro prize.

However there's a successor tournament with more options and more strategies to explore. In this week's Ludology we replay the original segment, and give a quick review of some of the changes this time around.

If you're interested in the finding out more about the tournament, check it out here: Social Learning Strategies Tournament.

Sep 25, 2011
Episode 16 - Cooperative Games

Ryan and Geoff look deep into the heart of cooperative games to figure out why some work and some don't.  What special problems face the designer of a coop?

Sep 18, 2011
Bonus Episode - Dice Decks

In this classic GameTek, Geoff talks about streakiness in dice rolling in The Settlers of Catan. How often should it occur? And what effect does a 'Dice Deck' have on the game?

Sep 11, 2011
The Subcultures of Gaming

Fresh off of their visit to Gencon in August, Ryan and Geoff talk about the subcultures of gaming, their similarities, differences, and the ways they interact.

Sep 04, 2011
Bonus Episode - The Cube Tower

Original research from the GameTek Laboratories! Geoff looks at the Cube Tower from Wallenstein/Shogun and experiments to see if there is any pattern to when the cubes fall out. Take your Shogun game to the next level!

Aug 28, 2011
Episode 14 - Roll Again!

Ryan and Geoff finally resolve the cliff-hanger back from episode 12 and reveal the game they think brought dice back into popularity as a design tool not just a randomizer but as an integral part of gaming mechanics. They discuss a variety of techniques that have been used to incorporate dice into modern games, and speculate on what the future will bring.

Aug 21, 2011
Bonus Episode - Agricola Translation

What is involved in localizing a game into a different language? Geoff talks with the team who worked to translate Agricola from German to English and finds out.

Aug 14, 2011
Episode 13 - CCGs & DBGs

This episode we are pleased to be joined by Mike Elliott. Mike is the designer of Quarriors and Thunderstone, and also worked for many years with Wizards of the Coast doing design work on Magic and other CCGs. We discuss the specific design issues that arise for deck-building games and collectible card games.

Aug 07, 2011
Bonus Episode - Beauty Contests

Can you outguess your opponent?  Geoff digs into some experiments that may give the answer in this classic GameTek episode.

Jul 31, 2011
Episode 12 - Dice-O-Rama

In this episode, Ryan and Geoff explore dice, and dissect the history of their use in games.

Jul 24, 2011
Bonus Episode - Rock Paper Scissors

In this classic GameTek episode, Geoff takes a look at the classic Rock, Paper, Scissors, and what it tells us about game theory.

Jul 03, 2011
Episode 11 - Family Games

Ryan and Geoff discuss Family Games - What are they and what makes them work?  Ryan goes back to his educational theory studies to break it down.

Jun 26, 2011
Bonus Episode - Abstract Games

In this classic GameTek episode, Geoff takes a look at abstract games, and attempts to solve them by computer. And does it matter if they are?

Jun 19, 2011
Episode 10 - Complexity

Ryan and Geoff are very pleased to be joined this episode by special guest Scott Nicholson, of On Boardgames, and Boardgames with Scott.  They discuss complexity - different types of complexity, when complexity is called for, and how it can be managed.

Jun 12, 2011
Bonus Episode - Fair Dice

In this classic GameTek episode, Geoff takes a look at research that was done on the fairness of dice. How 'unfair' can standard off-the-shelf dice get?

Jun 05, 2011
Episode 9 - Turn, Turn, Turn

Ryan and Geoff discuss the differences between turn-based and simultaneous-action games. What are the advantages of each type of design?

May 29, 2011
Bonus Episode - The Ultimatum Game

In this episode, Geoff explores the Ultimatum Game, which is used by social scientists to explore human concepts of fairness, competition, and cooperation.

May 22, 2011
Episode 8 - Narrative Arc

Ryan and Geoff tackle another angle on story in games - the narrative arc. What creates rising tension, and what game elements can create a dramatic climax?

May 15, 2011
Bonus Episode - Prisoner's Dilemma (Part 2)

In this classic GameTek episode, Geoff talks about the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma, and what it implies about social science and evolution.

May 08, 2011
Episode 7 - Narratology

Ryan and Geoff are joined by special guest Andy Parks to begin their discussion on how games incorporate story and narrative structure elements.

Andy is a game designer of many games including Ideology and Camelot Legends, and is the author of a recent article on creating narrative in games for the website Booklife.

May 01, 2011
Bonus Episode - Prisoner's Dilemma (Part 1)

In this classic GameTek episode, Geoff talks about the Prisoner's Dilemma and how it applies to board games.

Apr 24, 2011
Episode 6 - Finding The Balance

Ryan and Geoff conclude their discussion of balance by looking at a variety of questions:

What does it mean for a game to be balanced?

What are the different types of balance?

Can a game be too balanced?

Apr 17, 2011
Bonus Episode - Triangular Numbers

In this classic GameTek segment Geoff takes a look at triangular numbers and the way they are used in game designs. Features a bonus appearance by Alan Moon (sort of)!

Apr 10, 2011
Episode 5 - Dominant Strategies - Take 2

Games that seem to have multiple strategies sometimes end up having just one dominant strategy that players follow. In this episode, Ryan and Geoff discuss ways the pitfalls of game design that can lead to this, and ways designers avoid it.

Apr 03, 2011
Bonus Episode - Multitouch Tables

In this classic GameTek episode from 2007 Geoff talks about Multitouch Tables like the Microsoft Surface, and the role they may play in the future of boardgames.

Mar 27, 2011
Episode 4 - The Emergence of Strategy

In this episode, Ryan and Geoff discuss the difference between strategy and tactics, and the different forms that strategy can take in games.

Mar 20, 2011
Episode 3A - The Defense of Power Grid

What, another Ludology episode already?

In episode 3, Catch The Leader, Ryan and Geoff both opined that the turn order mechanic in Power Grid diminishes the overall experience.  This prompted a lot of passionate debate in the forums.

For this bonus episode, we are joined by listener and poster Tim Koppang, who defends this Catch the Leader mechanic as integral to the Power Grid experience, and essential to gameplay.

Episode 4 will be posted as scheduled, on March 20.

Mar 14, 2011
Ludology Bonus Episode - Reviews

Here is the next classic GameTek episode. This is on one of Tom Vasel's favorite topics - reviews!

This is purely 'bonus' content, and we will still be keeping to our regular two week release schedule.

Mar 13, 2011
Episode 3 - Catch The Leader

In this episode, Ryan and Geoff begin their series on balance.  First up: Catch The Leader.

What exactly is Catch The Leader? When is it needed, if ever? When does it work and when doesn't it?

Mar 06, 2011
Ludology Bonus Episode 1 - GameTek Classic!

Regular Ludology episodes will be released every two weeks.

As an experiment, on the 'in between' weeks we are going to be releasing classic GameTek segments from The Dice Tower.  This is the very first GameTek that was ever aired, on the topic of luck, and like all GameTeks is about 5 minutes long.

This is purely 'bonus' content, and we will still be keeping to our regular two week release schedule.

Please drop by our BGG guild and let us know if you enjoy these bonus releases!

Feb 27, 2011
Episode 2 - Why Do We Play Games?

In our second episode we take a look at what attracts people to games, and what keeps them coming back for more.  Plus Ryan and Geoff share personal stories about some of their game experiences over the years.

Feb 20, 2011
Episode 1 - What is a Game?

Welcome to Ludology! In this, our first episode, we tackle the question of what is a game, and what isn't.

Feb 07, 2011