Published on January 8th, 2012 | by Greg0
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.