From Video Game to Board Game and Back

Board games have been around forever; well a lot longer than any of us. The first board game dates back to around 5000BC with evidence of Backgammon found in archeological discoveries in Mesopotamia. Humans have always sought ways to entertain themselves and others.

Board games are something that most people have grown up with, and they can be a great way to fill a cold winter’s evening at home, or to play with the family during the holiday seasons. Indeed for many people they evoke memories and feelings of nostalgia for family occasions. Board games even make great gifts. Most people are familiar with, and grew up playing, classic board games like chess, checkers, Connect 4, Clue, and Monopoly, or more modern family games like Kingdomino, Codenames, Gravwell, and Horrified.

Video games have their own audience too and it might seem that younger players aren’t as keen on board games as they are at playing on video consoles. But there are a lot of crossovers between the two. Just how successful are these video game to board game translations? You can see below if any of them worked.

Popularity of Video Games

Video games grew out of the 1970’s with Atari and Nintendo developing characters that are still recognisable today including PacMan, Mario and Donkey Kong. The arcade crash of 1983 led to the rise of home computers and video game consoles, and now the video game industry is worth over billion.

Popular video game titles regularly sell tens of millions of units, and have the ability to generate recurring revenue in the form of micro-transactions for loot boxes, weapons, outfits and upgrades. And while board game sales figures are dwarfed by those of video games, the board game industry is still expected to reach nearly billion by 2026. And interestingly enough, many popular video games get converted into board games.

Spin Offs

Board games and video games are no strangers to being turned into another entity entirely. There are quite a few movies based on board games if you include Ouija and Monopoly (which is still in development hell). Others include Candy Land, Battleship, Dungeons & Dragons, and Clue. Dungeons and Dragons also had a highly rated cartoon series.

Video games have also tempted many movie makers to try their hands at creating celluloid magic from an 8 bit game. There have been many disasters over the years including Mario Bros., Alone in the Dark and Far Cry. Though many people are aware of the movie spin offs, toys, merchandise and the like they might be surprised how many have been turned into board games. You might ask yourself, can a video game successfully be turned into a board game?

Obviously this would depend on the interpretation and the type of game that is being translated. Some might immediately scream ‘No!’ But first take a look at some of the games that have been licensed and transferred from the TV to the dining room table.

Which Video Games Are Available as Board Games?

There are a surprising amount of games that have been transferred into board games, and not surprisingly many are disastrous. But there are also some real winners. A short list of video games that have wound up on the tabletop include Legend of Zelda, Dark Souls, Doom, Fallout, Portal, Donkey Kong Country, Assassin’s Creed, Halo and Pac-Man. Because, yeah, everyone needs a Pac-Man board game right? Who knows, maybe they do?

When you consider all of the video games which have been translated into board games there are some solid entries. Sid Meier’s Civilization, This War of Mine, The Witcher, and even Warcraft have all made the transition in remarkable shape. It is the arcade games that have mostly failed, perhaps unsurprisingly. Pac-Man, Frogger and Tetris are not the same as the arcade, no matter what it says on the packaging. Even though Minecraft has crossed over into a board game, you might still prefer to play the classic way.

Do Board Games Translate More Successfully into Video Games?

When you look at games being transferred the opposite way, it can be a totally different story. Many board games have made the transition onto computers, smartphones and consoles with grace and poise. Games like Catan, Carcassonne, The Castles of Burgundy, Splendor, and even Terraforming Mars are perfect examples of the sophistication that digital board games can exhibit.

Board games convert well because they can be replicated exactly as they appear on the tabletop, but also can be given makeovers and extra features. Picture yourself sitting at home with a Scrabble board and no one to play with. Not much fun. However a PC or smartphone version connected to the internet can offer you potentially thousands of people to play against. You no longer need to check if a word is correct or even add up the score. Obviously not everyone will see all these features as improvements but computers are capable of expanding board games and gaining a new audience.

And when you include online board game websites like Yucata, Board Game Arena, or Boiteajeux, and virtual gaming tables like Tabletop Simulator or Tabletopia, the numbers start looking really impressive.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Playing Board Games on a Computer or Console?

Some of the main advantages to playing board games on devices include extra features, automated scoring, and online play with friends (or strangers). Introducing your children or new players to a game they have never played can cause interest in learning the original board game too.

But there are some disadvantages as well. Playing against the computer AI could mean becoming more isolated, and gaming less with friends and family. Even if your loved ones are also playing online, can digital board gaming really match the feeling of sitting down together and playing through the latest board game on the holidays with loved ones?


While there are some very good board games made from video games it is clear that certain genres work better than others. Do some research and find out what video games have been made from your favorite board game, or vice versa. And when you find one, let us know in the comments.

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The Guest Contributor author is a collection of posts written by authors outside of the Meeple Mountain writing team.

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