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Accepted Contribution:

In the shadows of board game festivals: the discreet digitization of the prototyping process  
Aurore Deramond (Université Sorbonne Paris Nord - LabEx ICCA) Vinciane Zabban (Experice - Université Sorbonne Paris Nord)

Short abstract:

This research explores the discreet but transformative impact of digital prototyping on the broader board game production landscape, drawing from extensive qualitative research involving interviews, physical and online observations on the French sector.

Long abstract:

Board game prototypes are devices for testing game concepts. They fit into a portable box. Comprising a system of rules, various materials, and the creator's pitch, they function as intermediary and flexible objects (Vinck 2009, Potier 2023). Their circulation among key stakeholders, including publishers, fellow authors, retailers, and potential customers, especially during festivals, actively contributes to shaping the field.

In the last decade, the modern board game sector has experienced significant growth and transformative changes. On his side, the prototyping of board games has undergone remarkable professionalization. This transformation is evident in the increasing emphasis that event organizers are placing on prototyping material demonstrations and contests. However, the digital underpinnings of this evolution - which is facilitated by shared and affordable tools and knowledge for game design through digital social networks and production platforms - remains discreet/silent.

Our research highlights how digitization leverages not only the technical but also the social features of prototyping, especially through the diffusion of dedicated production platforms, AI and other digital tools (e.g. tabletopia, tabletop simulator, Midjourney…). The communication aims to explore the contribution of this intangible dimension of prototyping to the broader structuring of the board game production field.

Our analysis is grounded in extensive empirical qualitative research, incorporating in-depth interviews (n=30) with French authors, observations at physical professional events (7), and gatherings (5). Additionally, online observations of two authors’ collectives on Facebook, Discord, and Twitch over a six-month period provide valuable insights into the activities shaping the board game production landscape.

Combined Format Open Panel P285
Exploring the tools and uses of prototyping: investigating how knowing by doing takes shape
  Session 1