It comes from the future! The Hybrid Games!

Wow, okay, what is this? You know, this thing you put in front of the boardgame and tells us we ought to use it now? Is that a tablet or, gasp, a smartphone?

Yes, and this scenario will only get more and more widespread. Oh, okay, let me be honest – chances are that traditional boardgames will grow strong and happy, still avoiding any interactions with the digital world, staying aside as technology progress… Simply because for many players it is the intristic value of a boardgame: that it allows a total disconnection from the dreaded overlord that is the World of the Internet and ever-present network. But even adamant purists in the boardgames community won’t say, that the change is coming, slowly but surely.

The Hybrid Games are a real thing now.

Wait, slow down… What is a Hybrid Game? The term is kind of elusive and not as of yet properly put into a frame of definitione. Some gamers claim that a hybrid game is a boardgame that simply mixes unusual mechanics together, or maybe takes the robust wealth of components and the astonishing looks of the so called ameritrash games and mix them (neatly or not, really) with the smooth nuts and bolts of eurogames mechanics, trying to stir up the best out of both worlds.  For some a hybrid game would be a game about Hybrids (it’s not a pun, believe me). And finally there is a growing amount of people who manager to clash their wits against boxes of Alchemists and X-COM from Fantasy Flight Games – boardgames that uses Augmented Reality and integral mobile app as a part of the flow in the game. And this, my dear readers, is a Hybrid Game.

Let us talk briefly about this new genre of games. That is if we even could use the word ‘genre’ here, because Hybrids are Hybrids due to the additional tools used in delivery of a tight, nice game, rather than a set theme, game weight or length. Wargames can be hybrid games. Economy brianburners can be hybrid games. Family games can be hybrid games. Even party fillers can be hybrid games! I believe you all follow the trend here…

But it is not as simple as just throwing an App, stick it to a game and call it a day.

Let me give an example - Agricola Buddy is a lovely app, as a lot of Agricola players that uses it would surely say. It's clean, quick and help a lot with the mess that is calculating points at the end of the game. It makes it easier. And that one of the points why apps for boardgames can be quite a blessing. But, still, using this application while playing Agricola does not make it a hybrid game, because the app is entirely optional and thousands of players do not use it at all, still enjoying the game quite a lot, right?

Let's roll with another flawless example - Alchemist! A game made by talented people at Czech Games Edition with a great swathe of positive reviews and a very good rating of 7.91/10 on BoardGameGeek. This game is definitely a Hybrid Game, but made most likely in best possible ways. That is, first of all, even if the app is an integral part of the game, it never feels like a burden. It's basically a well developed, quick and easy tool that adds another flavour to the game, allows it to tackle a difficult mechanic with ease and just feels right. And was a big, triumphant smile to all the players, who vividly claimed, that adding an app to a boardgame must always end up in failure!

So what is a Hybrid Game, really, when you cut to the chase?

It's a boardgame that contain a mobile application (and therefore a need for a mobile device) as its integral part of the gameplay - it might cover just a single mechanic needed for the game to flow, it might be the silent judge who keeps everything checked and proper, it might be a keeper of secrets for deduction games...

What it have to be though, is helpful. The App part of the game can't be clunky. Can't feel like an obstruction of fun. Cannot be added simply for the sake of having it. When making Hybrid Games publishers have to realise, that the process of addint this component starts at the very beginnig - with an idea of a game, in which such a tool can be a helper or even a sweet and nice new solution... Or new mechanic whatsoever.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7/01/2015

    I didn't even know there is sth like that! Good to hear, it sounds interesting! Thanks!