You can hear the rumble of the dice and the clack of the tokens on the board, and you can feel the stress of the end game, but there’s one drawback…you can’t cheat. And it’s not because video calling in Ludo puts you under the watchful eyes of your opponents. It’s because the computer won’t allow you to make a false move. Translating our favorite board games to the virtual world of smartphones has proven highly successful, but it does rob those of us with a sleight-of-hand advantage of a proven way to maintain a winning streak!
While the primary focus of online gaming is the eSports phenomenon and large multiplayer forums, there is a thriving community of players who enjoy the more sedate experience of turn-based, dice rolling, virtual tabletop entertainment.
Key to this social experience is the growing involvement of video calling. By adding face-to-face conversation and gamesmanship to the equation, you can make any board game a casual catch-up or an intense rivalry.
Video Calling in Ludo…with Ads
Ludo is just one of hundreds of board games that have made the leap to a digital format. The version mentioned above with the authentic sound effects and stern referee is the Android app Ludo Chat. It’s one of several iterations of the simplified version of Parcheesi (also called Pachisi) to include video calling between opponents. Hello Ludo and the Facebook version Ludo Star are also available, and the latter even has a romantic angle, in case you’re looking for a deeper competitive relationship.
The intimacy of video calling lifts board game apps above the time-killing solo play or anonymity of faceless versions.
Ludo Chat does a fine job of recreating the feel of the game, and the video calling windows fit snugly around the board to make it easy to maintain a conversation. The two biggest problems are that the app is riddled with ads and it can be difficult to establish and maintain a connection to the gaming server.
If you can survive those distractions, though, the intimacy of video calling lifts these apps above the time-killing solo play or anonymity of faceless versions. In fact, whole online communities have sprung up around video versions of traditional games by exploiting the sweet spot between the button-mashing intensity of esports (think Halo or Call of Duty) and the casual social connection of a Skype conversation.
Virtual Board Gaming Domains
More than 700,000 games are played every month on Board Game Arena. The site hosts 161 different digital versions of traditional board games for a community of over 1.5 million players. The games are accessible on every major desktop, mobile, and console device and are available in 41 languages. It’s one giant games cupboard that houses not only your favorite games but a bunch of like-minded friends to play along with. While you can access this warehouse of rainy-day fun for free, you do need a subscription to use the video conferencing feature.
The same fee restrictions apply to those looking to make the most of another online game room, Tabletopia–only introductory versions of the games are available for free, though the venue does have over 400 games to choose from. Most gamers here use Discord or Skype to add a live conversation (generally just voice chat, but some gamers do video chat) to their gaming. Discord was launched in 2015 as essentially a social media platform for online gamers, and has grown to include one of the best live streaming and video calling interfaces for gamers. The Tabletopia community has taken the digital communication of Discord and used it to play more casual games than the standards that Discord users generally favor, such as Fortnite or Call of Duty.
For a better integration of casual gaming and video chat, you need a platform like the recently launched Bunch.
To video chat during a Tabletopia game, though, you’ll have to get all your players on Tabletopia as well as on Discord or another video chatting platform–which is just as chaotic and time-consuming as it sounds. For a better integration of casual gaming and video chat, you need a platform like the recently launched Bunch. While the focus is on smartphone classics such as Roblox, the app also features party favorites like charades and trivia. Once inside the app, the video callers’ images float over the game interface, merging play and chat into one. You still can’t underhandedly manipulate the gameplay to your advantage (due to the computer acting as the host), but the human element is otherwise at the forefront, with the goal of creating a party atmosphere.
Of course, if you just have to take control of the game yourself, you could always stage your own video conferencing game night over a private connection.
Make Your Own Digital Games Den
Video conferencing lets you stage face-to-face meetings of all kinds, even the social variety. We’ve previously discussed using it to host intimate virtual dinner parties, birthdays, Christmas caroling, and even office holiday parties. Games night is no different. Using the same basic webcam and video calling platform technology you’d use to call a long-distance friend, you can place a group of people around a Monopoly board. As long as you steer clear of card games requiring a common deck or anything that depends on players holding secret pieces–such as Scrabble tiles–you can gather around the same game from various remote locations. You’ll probably have to delegate one person to physically manipulate the game board, unless you’re all willing to replicate every move in duplicate (which sounds potentially very confusing).
With a host in place to keep the game running, you can add a competitive element to your group video call catch-ups that can help sustain long-distance friendships. The best version of video calling Ludo may be the one you stage yourself–as long as you trust the person moving the tokens.