Wilfried Elmenreich is a professor for Smart Grids at the Institute of Networked and Embedded Systems at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Austria. His research interests include intelligent energy systems, self-organizing systems, and technical applications of swarm intelligence. Wilfried Elmenreich is a member of the Senate at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Counselor of the IEEE Student Branch, and is involved in the master program on Game Studies and Engineering. He is the author of several books and has published over 200 articles in the field of networked and embedded systems. Elmenreich researches intelligent energy systems, self-organizing systems, and technical applications of swarm intelligence.
Exploring Accessibility Enhancement in Printable Board Games through 3D Printing with a Heist Board Game Case Study
FROG 2023 – Talk
In recent years, 3D printing has emerged as a revolutionary technology that has the potential to transform various industries. It enables the creation of three-dimensional objects by layering materials based on a digital design. This process has gained widespread attention due to its versatility, efficiency, and possibilities for customization and prototyping. One of these areas in which 3D printing can be transformational is the development of Indie board games or so-called printables. According to the website BoardGameGeek (n.d.), printables, or “Print & Play” are “games [that] are not published in physical form. Instead, the rules and (most) components are available in a digital format, and players are expected to print them off [sic] and assemble them themselves.” This offers the opportunity for game designers to reach a wider player audience due to its easy access and affordability. The printable games that are offered in BoardGameGeek are mostly 2D games, that is games printed on paper and used with standard figures. A beneficial aspect 3D printing provides is the ability to add accessibility for visually impaired people into board games by designing game elements that provide haptic feedback. As a case study, we designed a heist board game involving a generated game map assembled using 3D-printed elements that snap together so that an accidental moving of one part does not affect the board. The figures and game elements are also designed as 3D prints so that they can be identified by touch as well as by their visual design. The game also involves cards with a cut edge to signal their orientation and a QR code that enables a mobile app to read the card’s content to the player. Producing the game is, however, significantly longer than a standard (2D) printable game since the 3D elements require significant time for printing. Printing times of all elements in full size amount to 100 hours on a Prusa i3 printer. Thus, the usage of 3D-print technology for producing games is expected to be limited to prototypes or special applications.