High-tech video game design prof in Sudbury still loves low-tech board games

CBC Sudbury's Technology Matters columnist has board game ideas for those family and friends gatherings over the holidays.

Search Kickstarter and Indiegogo for board game ideas

Aaron Langille teaches computer science and video game design at Laurentian University in Sudbury. The first board game he played was checkers with his mother . . . until she stopped letting him win. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Remember board games? Checkers? Snakes and Ladders?

So does Aaron Langille. He teaches computer science and video game design at Laurentian University in Sudbury.  

But every once in a while, when he feels like stepping away from the video games, he brings out a board game. And with families and friends getting together over the holidays, this might be the opportune time to crack open a board game or two yourself.

Langille suggests tailoring the game to who's going to be playing. For example, he has a couple of suggestions of board games for the kids.

"Sushi Go! is definitely one of the ones we like to play," said Langille. "It's a fairly simple rummy-style game that only takes about 20 minutes to play all three rounds."

"Best Treehouse Ever is another one of my favourites," said Langille.  "Your job is to build a treehouse with all sorts of rooms that can range from arcades to aquariums to bowling alleys. It's a fantastic little game."

"Settlers of Catan Junior, which is sort of a simplified version of Settlers of Catan, is very, very popular, especially if you're a Catan player," said Langille.

"There's a series of games called The Adventurers, which uses little plastic models," he added. "The Adventurers: Temple of Chak and The Adventurers: Pyramid of Horus are both very accessible to ages eight and up."

Aaron Langille recommends browsing the shelves at your local board game store, looking on Kickstarter or Indiegogo or searching online. (Travis Golby/CBC)

If you're a fan of Risk or Monopoly, Langille recommends Azul, a tile-based game. Codenames is also extremely popular. 

"If you're brand new to Codenames, I would recommend starting with either the original words or pictures," said Langille. "This is best as a four-player game. Teams of two take turns guessing why things are connected."

Langille describes it as a simple-to-learn but very deep game.

For those who are into card games, Langille recommends Ascension."It's like a simplified version of Magic the Gathering for people that like to collect cards," said Langille.

Clank! is another board game Langille recommends."It's the same version of that kind of card collecting where you roam around and have to not make noise."

"Safranito is hugely popular in our house," said Langille. "It's a game of making recipes where you have to collect the ingredients. It has a dexterity component where you have to flick one of the pieces onto the board and get it to land," he explained.

Langille gives one of his highest recommendations to Small World. "If you have four or five people Small World is an extremely deep game that takes about 45 minutes to play . . . but has very high replay."

Langille says board games have always been a big deal for him.

"I remember playing Game of Life almost every single day this one particular summer with some friends of mine . . . and I played cribbage every single day at lunch through high school," said Langille. 

Langille recommends going to your local board game store and just browsing the shelves, looking on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, or searching online. 

"There are all kinds of websites that are devoted to cataloging these kinds of games so there are lots of resources out there," he said. 

With files from Markus Schwabe


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