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The production and exploitation of space in board games

Authors: James Thatcher*, University of Washington Tacoma, David O'Sullivan, Victoria University of Wellington
Topics: Cartography, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: boardgames, production of space
Session Type: Paper
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Over the past two decades, tabletop board games have seen a rapid, and somewhat unexpected growth in popularity and financial backing; yet, have remained under-examined by geographers, relative to video and other forms of game. Given their reliance on a playing field (the board), which if not always cartographic is invariably a space, critical geographical examination of such spaces has merit. In this preliminary paper we present a heuristic typology of the spatial representations in board game design choices, ranging from space as a surface to space as an emergent field. While it may be obvious that the kinds of spaces in a game affects the choices available to players, we argue that they also influence the ideologies and politics that can be communicated by games as cultural, material products. In this way we demonstrate that geography has much to offer the nascent field of critical studies of board games.

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