FDG2023 | 5th Workshop on Tabletop Games

Conference on April 11-14 | Lisbon, Portugal

1 Introduction

Analog games have seen a surge of interest: board game cafés, new titles, and a more accepting culture to role-playing games as a pass-time has fueled a boom in sales. However, academic research is relatively stagnating upon the analog domain as an object of design, due to both the interdisciplinary nature taking cues from computer science, narrative creation, psychology, and due to a lack of good publication venues for such works. Although being integrated to achieve crucial outcomes such as brain health diagnosis, industrial training, recruitment process, analog games have been under-studied in terms of human factors consideration and design improvisation. The workshop endeavours to highlight such issues by discussing existing solutions and potential areas of improvement. Furthermore, the aim of this workshop is to address the gap between research and practice, looking at the ways in which academics can apply their tools to the discussion of analog games; this includes but is not limited to board games, war games, and tabletop role-playing.

This year sees the 5th iteration of the FDG Workshop on Tabletop Games. You can find the programme and accepted papers the previous workshops held on 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2022.

2 Important note on scope

We define tabletop games here to include any game played by a group of players (or one player, in niche cases) on the tabletop: this includes board games, role-playing games, technology-enhanced board games (e.g. Mansions of Madness or Alchemists), and so on. Computer simulations of tabletop games are also included, e.g. for simulated board game play for the purposes of artificial intelligence or other computational tasks. Importantly, the topics of this workshop do not include playground activities or urban games, pervasive games (e.g. played throughout the day during other activities), and games intended to be played exclusively on the computer (e.g. digital card games such as Hearthstone). Therefore, while a computer-based generator which outputs a map and description which can be played on a tabletop role-playing game such as Dungeons & Dragons is acceptable, should the same generator only output dungeons played on the computer it would not be acceptable. Similarly, a computer simulation (interactive or not) of Chess would be acceptable provided that it simulates a board game (in this case Chess) which can be played on the tabletop. If you have any questions on whether a topic is within scope of this workshop, contact us at organizer@tabletopgamesworkshop.org for the specific case.

3 Submissions

We welcome paper submissions as describing novel research, with a page limit of 8 pages. Submissions can be made via EasyChair (to the "Workshop on Tabletop Games" track).

  • Papers submissions will be subject to double-blind peer review, and each submission will be peer reviewed. Authors of accepted papers will be invited to give an oral presentation of their paper at the workshop. Presenters are expected to attend physically.
  • All submissions should be anonymized, as the review process is double-blind. All submissions should be in PDF format and comply with the new ACM interim template and need to import ACM CCS 2012 concepts. Both one-column and two-column ACM format options are acceptable, and both LaTeX and Word ACM templates are acceptable for producing the PDF file.
  • Papers should be submitted through EasyChair (to the "Workshop on Tabletop Games" track).
Tabletop games span a broad range of applications, but indicative topics for papers include but not limited to:
Player/User Experience Testing and Playtest Methodologies
Design and Manufacturing of Physical Game Objects
Impact of 3D printing and rapid prototyping
Rules Generation, Development, and Extraction
Crowd-Funding Development and Processes
Social Networks and Discussion Groups on Analog Games
Impact of YouTube (i.e. video rule-books) on games rules presentation
IoT Technologies in Games Objects
Procedural Content Generation
Technology applied to the understanding of play
Historical Reviews, Post Mortem, and Lessons Learned
Dos and Don'ts of Game Design
Applications of tabletop games (education, personal transformation, cultural heritage, etc)
Digital support/extensions to tabletop games (including XR)
Ancient tabletop games.

4 Programme

  • The Tabletop Games Workshop will take place between 09:00 and 17:00 on Tuesday 11 April, 2023. The venue will be the Lusofona University Library Room N1.10. See the FDG website for more venue details. All times below are in local (Lisbon) time.

9:00-9:15 Setup and introductions
9:15-10:15 Tabletop Games Beyond Entertainment (chair: Akrivi Katifori)
  • Who Wants to Play a Character Without a Weakness? The Role of Flaws in Tabletop Role-Playing Games and Potential Benefits for Mental Health; Susanne Poeller, Martin Dechant and Regan Mandryk.
  • Historical reality vs anachronistic fantasy: The history educators’ perspective on tabletop RPGs; Dimitra Petousi, Akrivi Katifori, Maria Roussou, Yannis Ioannidis and Pantelis Sakellariadis.
  • A Framework for aGML - Guidelines for analogue Game Modification Learning to Lower Barriers for Games in Education; Christian Paller.
10:15-11:00 Panel discussion with authors
11:00-11:30 Coffee Break
11:30-12:30 Technical papers (chair: Antonios Liapis)
  • "Show your cards!": What do creators need for the game design process? Lori Kougioumtzian, Christos Lougiakis and Akrivi Katifori.
  • "It Has to Ignite Their Creativity": Opportunities for Generative Tools for Game Masters; Kevin Tang, Terra Mae Gasque, Rachel Donley and Anne Sullivan.
  • Computer Aided Content Generation – A Gloomhaven Case Study; Marcus Gerhold and Kristian Tijben.
12:30-13:00 Panel discussion with authors
13:00-14:00 Workshop lunch
14:00-14:45 Keynote by Matthew Pauze: The Art and Future of Professional Storytelling in Tabletop RPGs (online)
14:45-15:00 Convenience break
15:00-17:00 Tabletop game makers: hands-on workshop (Micael Sousa)

5 Important Dates

  • Paper submission deadline: 27 January 2023

  • Author notification deadline: 3 March 2023

  • Camera-ready paper deadline: 24 March 2023

  • Workshop date: 11 April 2023

6 Keynote information

  • Title: The Art and Future of Professional Storytelling in Tabletop RPGs
  • Summary: In this engaging presentation, our professional storyteller shares their experience as a paid game master in the realm of tabletop RPGs. Attendees will explore the following key topics: The Game Master's Craft: Learn how professional game masters use their storytelling skills to create immersive and entertaining experiences for players, transforming tabletop RPGs into captivating narratives. Tools of the Trade: Discover how modern technologies like Discord and virtual tabletop platforms like Foundry enable game masters to bring their stories to life and connect with players worldwide. The Impact on the Indie Scene: Understand how the growing demand for professional game masters drives the expansion of the indie tabletop RPG scene, offering new opportunities for creators and enthusiasts alike. The Business of Storytelling: Gain insights into the financial aspects of running paid tabletop RPG sessions and how this emerging profession contributes to the growth and monetization of the hobby. The Future of Professional Game Mastering: Envision the potential evolution of this profession as it becomes an increasingly integral part of the tabletop RPG ecosystem, helping to shape the industry and expand its reach. Join us for this captivating presentation, and gain a deeper understanding of the role of professional game masters in the exciting world of tabletop RPGs and the future possibilities for this dynamic profession.
  • About the speaker: Matthew Pauze: a dedicated Game Master since 1993, bringing the best of tabletop RPGs and LARPs to life. Currently residing in Canada, Matthew excels at uncovering hidden TTRPG treasures and adapting his storytelling to fit each group. As an online game master, he uses platforms like Discord and Roll20 to create unforgettable experiences, particularly in horror settings. See the startplaying.games website and the YouTube channel.

7 Organizers

  • Micael Sousa is a researcher at CITTA, focusing on serious analog planning games. Invited game design lecturer and instructor at Lusofona University. Serious games developer for projects related to urban planning, collaborative and creative collective processes. Workshop instructor and Board game reviewer and developer.
  • Hamna Aslam has a Ph. D. in Computer Science with a focus on user experience evaluation and affordance theory. She researches digital and analog systems for their impact, desirability, and usability patterns. In this regard, AI systems and games are the primary focus.
  • Akrivi Katifori is a researcher at the Department of Informatics and Telecommunications of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and at the ATHENA Research Center. She has authored several papers in different research areas of computer science, including interactive digital storytelling, virtual reality and digital heritage.
  • Joseph Alexander Brown is an Assistant Teaching Professor at Thompson Rivers University in B.C., Canada. He has a PhD in computer science from the University of Guelph. His research focuses on Evolutionary Algorithms, Procedural Content Generation and Game Theory.
  • Antonios Liapis is a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta. His research focuses on Artificial Intelligence in Games, Human-Computer Interaction, Computational Creativity, and User Modeling. He has published over 120 papers in the aforementioned fields, and has received several awards for his research contributions and reviewing effort. He has served as general chair in four international conferences, as guest editor in four special issues in international journals, and has co-organized 12 workshops.

8 Program Committee

  • Jean-Baptiste Hervé, University Hertfordshire
  • Anne Sullivan, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Carla Sousa, ULHT
  • Patrícia Oliveira, University of Aveiro
  • Jose Zagal, University of Utah
  • Stamatia Savvani, University of Essex
  • Marco Scirea, University of Southern Denmark
  • Brenna Noonan, Quillsilver Studio
  • Christoph Salge, University of Hertfordshire
  • Björn Strååt, Stockholm University
  • Mehmet Kosa, Arizona State University
  • Raluca Gaina, Queen Mary University of London
  • Marlene Rosa, ESSLei IPL
  • Jorge Nuno Silva, Associação Ludus
  • Phil Lopes, HEI-Lab, Universidade Lusófona
  • Jonathan Lessard, Concordia University
  • Joe A. Wasserman, West Virginia University