Quarantine has had a major impact on game nights, seeing as no one can effectively meet up for board and card games. While there are a couple online versions of big card and board games like Monopoly or the Game of Life, smaller games and indie games in particular seem to have been lost in the lurch. Or have they? With quarantine driving people apart, there’s been an interesting rise in Tabletop Simulator as a way of bringing people back together so we can continue to play at game night. Or virtual game nights, as the case may be.
I myself have used Tabletop Simulatorto play a variety of games with far-off friends, and the tool itself is incredibly versatile for use with customization and personal games. In addition to some classic decks and games that come premade with the game, Tabletop Simulator also features a number of game DLCs that work with the base system. “But Rachel!” you say, “I want to play some of those indie games you mentioned!” Have no fear, as this is where the incredible Steam Workshop community comes into play.
With over 40k different workshop items, there is an impressive variety of different games and modules available to download and try for yourself, many with pre-programmed buttons and effects to make gameplay even smoother than real life gameplay. You can’t just press a button in real life to automatically deal out the appropriate amount of cards to every party. In many ways, the game of Tabletop Simulator is more of a tool to help show and play other games. And it’s been particularly useful during quarantine, as shown by game shows such as Achievement Hunters show Let’s Roll, where they highlight and play various card and board games.
There are also a fair amount of instructions online on how to upload and create your own custom cards, tiles, and games, so as long as you have the physical game, almost any card or board game can be imported into the decks. In addition, you can create and test your own designs of games and cards against friends and family. While the current version of Tabletop Simulator does not have a way of supporting the designers and developers of these games, I do hope that some companies in the future will create their own downloadable DLC spin offs so that gamers can play their game digitally while still supporting the original developers. After all, it still looks to be a while before card and board game cafes will be able to open up to regular business again.
The card and board game industry is having a rough time right now. Whether cooperative or competitive, games tend to rely on more than one player, which is sometimes unfeasible during an international pandemic. Luckily, we can live vicariously through simulation, throwing chips at virtual avatars and flipping tables with little consequences in Tabletop Simulator, while playing nearly any game under the sun. So how about some Betrayal at House on the Hill? I hear the ending is killer…