All gamechanger

Published on January 8th, 2012 | by Greg


GameChanger: Turn Your iPad Into a Board Game

We’re all for fam­i­ly fun, es­pe­cial­ly when it can in­volve elec­tron­ics. But even we’ve seen plen­ty of board games at­tempt to use tech­nol­o­gy and miss the mark. Of course, the sword cuts both ways, and many tries at con­vert­ing board games to video game plat­forms have failed just as sure­ly. There have been re­cent suc­cess­es- Tick­et to Ride on the iPad is as fun as the orig­i­nal board game and much eas­i­er to set­up, and we’ve cer­tain­ly seen Triv­ial Pur­suit in our of­fice fall to You Don’t Know Jack.

To­day, we look at a prod­uct that tries to bridge the gap in a new way. The GameChang­er is es­sen­tial­ly a dock for your iPad or iPad 2 that turns the de­vice in­to the cen­ter­piece of a board game. You in­sert your tablet, load the app, and can play board games with re­al, phys­i­cal pieces on the play­ing sur­faces that fold out to ei­ther side of the iPad. There are mul­ti­ple game skins that you lay over the dock, al­low­ing you to choose from a small se­lec­tion of un­for­tu­nate­ly unim­pres­sive ti­tles. The pieces are love­ly though, and build qual­i­ty is pret­ty good.

We tried out two ti­tles that seems aimed firm­ly at younger kids: Mag­ic School Bus and An­i­mal Ma­nia. The graph­ics were cute, an­i­ma­tions and in­ter­ac­tive por­tions well done, but we weren’t quite sold. Chal­lenges like “guess the an­i­mal based on the sound it makes” and “guess the an­i­mal from the fur” were rea­son­ably en­gag­ing and ed­u­ca­tion­al. There wasn’t a ton of va­ri­ety though, and game­play felt strained. In a school set­ting, or with a group of sim­i­lar­ly aged kids, it might work fine- but cer­tain­ly no teenag­er or adult will find much to ap­peal yet in the GameChang­er.

The oth­er po­ten­tial pit­fall is the price- at $70 or more, it’s the price of sev­er­al re­al board games. There might very well be more to come here, any we’ll def­i­nite­ly be keep­ing our eyes open- though the sur­face seems a bit small for broad­er gam­ing pur­pos­es and the di­vi­sion of the board would be awk­ward in many cas­es. We can’t whole­heart­ed­ly rec­om­mend it based on the cur­rent li­brary, con­sid­er­ing the cost- but we def­i­nite­ly ap­pre­ci­ate the GameChang­er try­ing some­thing new and break­ing new ground in board gam­ing. And for those with iPads and younger chil­dren, this is a fun way to make it easy for two or more of them to play with­out fight­ing over the tablet.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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