Oxford 2005 Colloquium

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Board Game Studies Colloquium VIII


Janine Schiller


Playing the game will entail designing non existent environments and passing through various countries and landscapes. Play worlds are maps, journeys across event fields in an imaginary world.

How are space and time symbolised and structured in board games? That is the main question I wish to pursue in my work. The board has a beginning and an end, a start and a finish, but constitutes an entire play world and map. Players embark on a journey, crossing event fields, dropping back, having to take a break or miss a go before moving forwards again. The units of time are arranged in a rhythmical fashion and canonised, following rhetorical figures in their narrativity. In addition to this structured journey through time, players move across play areas within a certain space. The various phases of the journey and events that befall them are familiar elements taken from a culturally oriented, comprehensible world. Famous sights, monuments, excursions, side trips and short cuts.

Based on the popular board game Reise durch die Schweiz (Travel through Switzerland), which has been continuously published and updated since the 1890s, this Topographie der Schweiz (Topography of Switzerland) aims to map out our cultural memory and track the ways in which it has changed in the map. The objective in analysing more than a century of Reise durch die Schweiz is to identify methodological criteria that can also be adapted to the analysis of other board games presented in map form.

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