09 January 2019
Don’t expect to play Catan on it just yet, though
A technology startup has unveiled what it claims to be the first dedicated ‘board game console’, which combines elements of the digital and analogue worlds together.
The Wizama SquareOne is in essence a big 19-inch tablet that lays flat on a table and can be used to display the digital board for a variety of games.
What makes it a little more impressive than a typical iPad, though, is the way it connects to physical components such as pawns, dice and cards – something its creators say retain the pleasure of picking up and moving things around in real life, while gaining the benefits of digital such as automatically tracking scores and interactive tutorials.
The screen is surrounded by 26 slots that can have tiles and cards placed on them to interact with the game on-screen, or simply to launch one of the games installed on the hardware.
The screen itself has NFC and Bluetooth technology, meaning it can keep track of what’s placed on it and where, from pawns to more elaborate miniatures. In one especially neat trick, you can roll a die and the SquareOne will automatically know and register the result in the game.
Artificial intelligence built into the software apparently has the ability to adapt games to each player’s age and experience, with multiple language options also available. Players can even record their playthroughs to share matches with the wider world.
Of course, all of this flash comes at a cost: $499, or almost £400, to be precise.
The line-up of games announced for the SquareOne’s launch this summer is made up of original titles rather than adaptations of hit board games – those mentioned include a story-driven spin on chess called Chessaria, abstract strategy game Chromacy, the Game of Goose-inspired race game Oya Stones, team shooter Cosmo Squabble and animal roleplaying game A Fistful of Screws.
It’s hardly an inspiring library of titles. Still, with the potential for new games to be downloaded directly onto the portable machine, it could be we’ll see the ubiquitous might of something like Catan or Ticket to Ride make their way to the SquareOne in the future if it proves to be a hit.