There is much discussion about the permanence and presence of the board game in contemporary society, considering that the analogue medium has maintained its format practically unchanged for centuries, in opposition to the constant technological advances of the digital medium.

In the present study, a global survey on the game was carried out, defining and verifying issues involving user behavior, as well as perspectives on the future of board games.

We choose the tale "The call of Cthulhu" written by H.P. Lovecraft in order to have a narrative to base our game in.

My role

This project was made together with fellow designer, Júnior Rodrigues, as our Graphic Design Bachelor Thesis at Federal University of Goiás.

My role in this project was: collaborating with research, user research and ideation; wireframing, user interface, definition of style guide, icon design, collaborating with the building of prototype and video editing.


In order to understand better the subject to be designed, we started a research to understand what a game is, what elements belong to a game, and discover the game experience.

So, what is game?

What elements are part of a game?

Schell, proposes that a game is formed by 4 essential elements: mechanics, how the game works; aesthetics, how the game looks; story, what the game is about; and technology, how the game is supported.

The game experience

According to Schell, the game is not the experience by itself, the game just supports the experience that is achieved when the user or users play. So without the users using the artifacts provided by a game there is no real experience happening.  


To understand better how analog digital games and also board games were made we did some benchmarking, analysing how the interactions work, what belongs to it and how many players are needed.  

Materials and technologies available

In order to design a game that can be realistically produced, we searched for materials that could enable the board game digitalization. Bellow are the materials found that could be used to produce that game.

User Research

After discovering some parts by researching theory and similar design solutions, we moved to understand the user itself. For that we choose three ways to collect the data: Quantitative Research, Qualitative Research and Activity Analysis.

Quantitative Research

In order to collect general information about the user, it was done an online questionnaire, and it was distributed through social media. It was obtained 500 answers and it was discovered that:

Qualitative Research

In order to collect further information about users motivations to play games and to understand the social factors while playing games, we put together seven questions, and ask 10 users who play games often.

It was discovered that:
- People play to spend time with their friends;
- Consider the group play experience as a fun and motivating activity;
- See the physical objects are necessary for a board game;
- Feel comfortable while using touch screens.

Activity Analysis
To design such a game benchmarking was not enough, it was needed to see how the users play to understand how the experience works. In that way, we arranged two focus groups with people that previously had friendships, so we could simulate a real game play. We choose two games in our benchmarking analysis, "Scotland Yard" and "XCom The Board Game".

In this activity analysis we discovered how important the interactions between the gamers are important, as well as the physical pieces and the board itself. In addiction we discovered that there is a need to have a rulers book, at least in the beginning so the users can understand the game.


With the data collected from our user research we developed a persona to understand how our user would interact with the game interface.  ​​​​​​​

Project Requirements

After the discovery part was done and we had understood the problem, our users and what is being done, we moved to define the project requirements, so they could guide us when ideating solutions. The requirements are divided into Functional, Formal and Conceptual Requirements.
- It must be consistent;
- It must use conventions;
- It must be efficient;
- It must offer feedback;
- It must be concise and objective;
- It must be legible;
- It must promotes the randomness;
- It must use as a device a multi touch screen.

- It must use animations as responses to interactions;
- It must use subtle sound effects;​​​​​​​

- It must present a minimalist aesthetic;
- The game story must be gradually presented;
- It must cause expectation;
- It must stimulate interaction between the players.

Game Ideation
We choose to build our own game story instead of basing the game in something already done. So, after finished the discovery phase, we started to ideate the storyline for the game. We did that by separating the chosen tale "The Call of Cthulhu" in parts, and then marking what was important to our gameplay, already thinking in the scenarios and relevant items presented in the tale that we could include in our game play.

We opt to do a simple story, so we could focus on building the interactions. The story present two teams that will play against each other, and each team has a mission to complete in a deadline general for everyone. At the end, both teams are faced with a final mission that decides who will win and who will lose.

Interface Map

With the game ideation finished, we mapped how the interfaces would interact together, and what we needed to design.

After setting up the grid and interface map, we started the wireframing process, beginning with paper and pen, then software based together with some adjustments in the television we were going to make the prototype video.

Mood Boards

In order to both designers understand what we wanted to achieve for the visual design and to gather more inspiration, we decided to set visual boards, focusing on concept, graphics and typography. From the mood boards we extracted colors, configuration and styles to design our game. We also wanted to focus in 8bit aesthetic so we could evoque a classic video game visual.

Board Game Interface

After wireframing all the interfaces, and validating in the screen, we started the process to design the board interface. We ideate together what could be interesting to have in the board and possible shapes then Júnior was responsible for the board design. 
We constantly tested the board design in the television we would make the prototype, using it to adjust measurements, color contrast and spaces between the elements, in a way to achieve a well balanced design. 

Users Validation

After designing the interfaces we decided to validate them before prototyping. So we showed the interfaces to our focus groups and ask them questions or did an A/B testing, in order to validate the illustration and position of the elements.

Style Guide
Final Interfaces

Physical Pieces

We discovered by the user research that physical pieces are an important part of the board game experience, so we designed them to match the visual design.
So we designed a few to match the design and test in the prototype.  

Video Prototype Simulation

With all the interfaces done, we started to simulate a prototype in order to show how the interactions would work while playing the game. We made a video first and recorded the interactions using a television as a digital board.


Through this study, we have seen several initiatives to create interfaces that mix digital and analog resources. However, few games actually implemented with such resources were also observed, demonstrating the need to conduct more experiments and increase knowledge in the area. It is hoped that the survey, process and results found here may contribute to future work and assist in the development of new possibilities for these supports.

Back to Top