Making video games from board games always seemed weird to me. You can either buy and play the board game, or you can spend the equivalent of two or three times the cost of the board game (not including the cost of the console to play it on) to play the exact same game on a television instead of on a table.
So, I’ve decided to run down a few of the differences to see why buying one over the other might be the better deal.
Video game versions are (usually) smaller – There are always exceptions, of course, but in general the video game version of some board game these days is going to be in a container that’s roughly the size of a DVD case. The board-game version, though, is going to be the size of several DVD cases. I’m discounting things like card games because a deck of cards or something like Uno or Rook might technically take up less room, a collectible card game might very well take up a great deal more room, so I say it’s a wash. +1 point video game versions
Video game versions have AI or Internet opponents – If you have a hankering to play a board game, but don’t have anyone handy to play with, you can always go up against computer-controlled players. Sure, it’s not the same, it’s hard to trash talk the computer or beg for favors or team up on whoever the winner is, but it will generally do in a pinch. And if a game is playable over the Internet, there’s a good chance that someone out in the world is ready to play right now. +1 point video game versions.
Analog versions let you bend the rules – Most people who have played Monopoly have a house rule about Free Parking: money collected from fines goes there and is collected when someone lands on it, is the one that I’ve heard the most. But, the thing is, that’s not a part of the official rules. House rules can make things more fun, can make things more interesting, and can make things balanced in the case of a skilled player going up against novices. They can also make the game longer, more boring, and less fun if used improperly, but so can a bad choice of radio station to listen to while the game is going on. +1 point analog games.
Analog games are cheaper and more portable – Of course, there are exceptions to everything (collector’s editions, themed editions, etc), but, in general, $20 or so will get you the full experience of the board game. On the other hand, to play the electronic version, you need the game, a console, some extra controllers, a television, and electricity. You may argue that you already had all of that stuff to make the game work, but if you take your electronic copy somewhere else, those things might not be available. But the traditional version will work in the middle of the Mojave desert, although, you need to ensure that the jackrabbits don’t abscond with your pieces. +2 points analog video games
It’s harder to lose the pieces to a video game – Getting deep into a game of Mousetrap and realizing that the rubber band has gone missing, so you can’t actually complete its setup and the game is unwinnable is disappointing. Trying to play anything with a deck of 51 cards is a non-starter. +1 point to video game versions.
That brings our grand total to:
- Analog board games – 3
- Video board games – 3
This isn’t as cut and dried as I expected it to be. I’d say that having a mix is probably the best way to go. Video games are great (no, really!), but it’s nice to unplug once in a while, too. Besides, nothing beats an evening with good people, good food, good music, and friendly competition in the same room at the same time.