From Tabletop to Desktop: The Evolution of Board Games in the Digital Age

Mega Cat Studios
5 min readJun 4, 2024

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Even as a kid, I was always smitten with board games. It made sense. Every time we played, it was a memorable affair. Always something to celebrate to justify lugging around the box, setting up the pieces, and learning the rules. Something about it just spoke to me. I couldn’t get enough. I even remember lugging around a whole bag full of them, a barely contained plastic bag filled to the brim with classics like Monopoly, Game of Life, and Clue. They were clunky to bring around, yes, but they embodied what kid me enjoyed most in these games. Replayable, easy to pick up, and always a different experience each time.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that board games were also popular as video games! No longer confined to just physical media, board games have found a home on Steam and carved out an enjoyable little niche. From big-name titles to classically inspired indies, board games on Steam aren’t just nostalgia bait but an actual thriving game style that can stand up with the best!

Classic Board Games — Easy, Cheap, Accessible

When talking about board games, it’s always good to look at the classics. Some of the most popular ones you’ll likely remember are titles like Risk and Game of Life, and they play pretty similar to how the actual board games would. Most of them are priced pretty cheap, and while they don’t offer much more than the base content, it’s hard to disagree with the tried and tested.

Game of Life | Courtesy of Steam

Some of these feature online multiplayer as well! Ever had the itch to play Uno with friends online? The interface might be a little barebones, but the experience is exactly as advertised and makes for a fun evening’s diversion on Discord.

Uno | Courtesy of Steam

These board games get interesting, though, when they try to do more than just be board games!

Board Gaming in Video Games — A Twist On The Genre

To say I was shocked would be an understatement. Who’d have thought that board games could evolve? While titles like Scythe: Digital Edition use added convenience as a new selling, it’s titles like Battle Chess that really take the time to innovate on classic formulas. They don’t just settle for the vanilla experience but try to give something unique and interesting in their gameplay!

Take a look at 5D Chess with Multiverse Time Travel! Not only does it give the experience of classic chess, it does it with its own spin, incorporating “different timelines” and “alternate realities” to spice up a normal game. You’re not just playing one game but several games on top of one another.

5D Chess with Multiverse Time Travel | Courtesy of Steam

And that’s saying nothing of the multitude of different board game-style video games available! Games like Battle Brothers take clear visual inspirations from board game titles without forgetting to innovate and try something different with its turn-based combat and story-driven campaign!

Battle Brothers | Courtesy of Steam

In fact, fan-favorite Wildermyth would likely be the perfect example of this new style of game. Aesthetically, its visual design and presentation fit in with that of pop-up books and kid board games. Characters pop out, stories are light-hearted, and the writing is simple to understand and concise enough to follow. However, its gameplay takes its cues from classic RPGs, with choices mattering and stories changing and adapting throughout the entirety of your session. While it gives a timely, homely feel that scratches the board gaming/tabletop gaming itch, it does it while living up to the heights that its digital medium can reach.

Wildermyth | Courtesy of Steam

Board Gaming in the Digital Era

So, what does the future hold for board gaming? With titles like Tabletop Simulator still having a dedicated audience, it’s clear that the public still has a deep-seated love for the classic experience that old board games can bring.

Tabletop Simulator | Courtesy of Steam

However, an equally large audience has grown to love and respect the games inspired by the classic tabletop games of yore. Series like Dungeons and Dragons have a place with titles like Baldur’s Gate, and there’s no lack of affection for games like Armello and Antihero, all of which wear their inspirations clear on their shoulders.

Here at Mega Cat Studios, we’re trying our own hand at releasing a board game adaptation. We’re adapting the well-loved board game Maximum Apocalypse from Rock Manor Games into its own video game and bringing bells and whistles that board game fans can look forward to.

Maximum Apocalypse Character Select Screen

Maximum Apocalypse aims to recreate the board game experience right on your home computer! Scavenge for supplies, fend off marauding zombies and monsters and survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where nothing remains but Maximum Apocalypse! If you’re ever interested, support the game on Kickstarter or wishlist it on Steam today!

Maximum Apocalypse

Looking at the wide array of board games to play, I think it’s safe to say that genre will never die. With how many titles they’ve inspired and how many board game adaptations find their way to Steam, board gaming on PC is sure to flourish in the years to come!

About the Author

Alexander Cuaycong is a writer with a passion for history and video game. When he’s not busy buried in dusty books, he’s out there trying to make his fantasy worlds come true. For him, gaming isn’t a hobby so much as a calling, and it’s one he’s been doing his best to follow. Whether it’s reviewing games, or writing about their history, he’s on a mission to spread that love with others.

Originally published at https://megacatstudios.com on June 4, 2024.

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Mega Cat Studios

Mega Cat Studios is a creative first company based out of Pittsburgh, PA. We love creating games. From retro cartridges to PC & VR, come play with us.