Waldschattenspiel

Boardgaming and boardgame design is alive and well. Or so I hear. As far as anyone knows, the market is virtually dead. All there is are old Hasbro owned games like Scrabble and Clue and the many, many (boring) variants of Monopoly; various puzzle games that aren’t really “board” games per say; and maybe Settlers of Catan (and its many variants). Other games don’t often show up and when they do, they are pretty much relegated to a pretty strong niche. Sort of like Interactive Fiction.

Boardgames have long since interested me, but it’s always been a distant fascination. Sometimes I hear about them and I read about them, and I get curious about their mechanics and design, but I rarely touch them. Videogames are my substitute. They might require more expensive hardware, but their social requirements are more favourable to those with deficiencies. With videogames, if I’m below the requirements I just buy a new videocard or a new console. Easier.

Recently, in some online community that I’m in, somebody posted about Waldschattenspiel. The game is described as such:

(from the instructions) The dwarves hide in the shadows of the trees from the wandering light. The burning tea-light [adult player] moves through the dark forest [mostly randomly] and tries to find the small dwarves in their hiding places. If a dwarf is touched by the light, it is frozen and not allowed to move anymore. The other dwarves try to release it. To achieve this they must wait until the light has gone far enough so that one of them can join it in the shadow. All the dwarves try to unite under one tree while the candle tries to freeze the dwarves. Who will win, the light or the dwarves?

WaldschattenspielCourtesy of boardgamegeek.

What is interesting is that the main avatar is a lit candle and all the gameplay occurs directly because of the light and shadow that it creates. The board is the game’s world, but the gameplay comes as a result of its contact with the physical world cast upon it by a burning wick. Something about that fascinates me a great deal, but I can’t explain why. Perhaps because it’s the kind of interaction that videogames, even the light-sensing Boktai, have a very hard time reproducing. For videogames, anything in the physical world is really nothing more than an interface for controlling its virtual world; it never involves it (save for the odd installation based games.)

It’s too bad that I’ll probably never play this game.

Semi-related: Deflexion. A game of laser chess.

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