Designing the Perfect
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Rules of the Game
1. Explore the visualizations - be sure to click and hover over different parts of the visualization! If you get lost, click on the User Guide button.

2. Check out the “Data Insights” section to get more insights about the data!

3. Design your own board game by selecting your own criteria!

4. At the end of the visualization, see what user rating your board game would receive!
How to Design the Perfect Board Game
Board games have been classic ways of spending time with family and friends.

Not surprisingly, there are a lot of resources for board game fanatics, ranging from guides on winning Monopoly to discussions of game mechanics. On the flip side, there are not a lot of resources to designing the perfect board game. Articles such as FiveThirtyEight’s “Designing The Best Board Game On The Planet” and Board Game Geeks’ Analysis of Board Games provides useful information, but ironically, these resources are not “fun.” The purpose of this project is to provide insight on different aspects of board games in an interactive, user-friendly way.

The audience of our project is not only board game designers and makers, but also players who want to learn more about the general landscape of board games such as the behind-the-scenes for board games with high user ratings, relationships between different themes and categories, and the intersection between game mechanics and difficulty of the game.
Categories Wheel
Categories are an important aspect of board games - they are themes, such as fantasy and simulations, that board games are built on. A board game may have a single category, or multiple. The category web above shows the relationships between different categories.
Your Selection:
Data Insights:
  • Broad categories that encompassed mechanics of the game, such as dice and card games, were connected with numerous topical categories.
  • War games and related topics are popular categories of board games, as seen by categories such as World War I, World War II, and Napoleonic.
  • Many connections between different categories are intuitive: for example, the connection between zombie and horror games is strong, along with the connection between novel-based and fantasy games.
  • On the other hand, there are surprising connections. For example, lots of games were jointly categorized as mythology and card games. In addition, prehistoric games were most strongly connected to animals and card games, rather than ancient.
Time vs. Number of Players
Next, we explore the relationship between the number of players and minimum playing time of the board game.
Your Selection:
Data Insights:
  • There is no significant variation in playing times between games with 1-5 minimum players. There are greater variations in playing times between games with 6-10+ minimum players
  • The bulk of playing times of games with 1-5, and 7 minimum players is 0-60 minutes, whereas games with minimum players of 6 and 8+ generally had durations of 60+ minutes.
  • Unsurprisingly, a large percentage of games that require more than 5 players at minimum had playing times of greater than 2.5 hours than their counterparts. Looking more closely, it is interesting to note that this trend is clearer for players with greater than 8 players had significantly greater playing times.
Board Game Mechanics vs. Difficulty
Mechanics are the “how” of the board games, such as dice rolling and role playing.
Your Selection:
Data Insights:
  • The vast majority of board game mechanics had difficulties spanning from 1 (easiest) to 3 (somewhat difficult).
  • The intensity of the color reflects the actual count of games, so the heat map is skewed towards more popular game mechanics.
  • Interestingly, although there were not as many game mechanics spanning in between 1.0 and 2.0, there were many that were different increments spanning from 2.0 to 3.0.
  • Hex-and-Counter and Dice Rolling had the greatest numbers of games that were classified as 5 (most difficult) in the difficulty scale.
category score
min player score
mechanism score
overall rating