Board Game to Application: Digital Approaches to the Classics

When you think of board games what do you think of? Monopoly? The Game of Life? Recently, there has been a switch from traditional board games, like Monopoly, to applications on iOS and Android. Monopoly in particular was one of my favorite games growing up. I can remember countless family game nights at the kitchen table trading different properties to get the hotel on our land.

The original game of Monopoly was created by Charles Darrow in 1935. He sold homemade versions of the game to his friends until the demand grew. He released a black box version in 1935. Hasbro eventually got the game and it has become increasingly popular all over the world ever since. There are tons of versions of the games, like Disney, Despicable Me, and Monopoly Junior The game has sold more than 275 million copies.

The application thumbnail


In 2008, Hasbro Launched its version of the game on the mobile platform. The rules are virtually the same as the original version, 2-8 players, each player takes a turn to roll two dice and moves according to the number that was rolled. The players can then buy, sell and trade properties. There are chance cards that yield good and bad outcomes.

Since the mobile version of the game takes away the motions of the normal game, like rolling the dice, exchanging money, and holding the property cards, developers had to account for this change. So to adjust for rolling the dice in particular, they added a shake feature for the dice, so you would shake your device to roll the dice. Everything from there on is done automatically, moving the pawn, exchanging money etc.

View of what the board looks like in the mobile version

The developers took out the need to pay attention during the game. Since most interaction you would have with the other players is gone, its easy to get distracted while playing the game and only pay attention when it’s your turn. I discovered this when I was playing the game. I would scroll through my social media feeds while the computer had its turn, and I would take my turn, then go back to the social media. Even my turn itself didn’t need a lot of interaction, I would shake to roll the dice, watch my pawn move to the designated spot, then I would confirm if I wanted to buy that property or if it should go to auction.

The fact that most interaction become automatic in the mobile version of Monopoly draws me away from playing the game too often. The feature to play the computer makes it too repetitive, where I would take my turn and watch the computer take its turn. I’ve only played it with the computer, but I imagine it would be better with multiple players. It would be good to play on a road trip with friends.

The mobile version also offers ways to change the rules. You can increase the amount of money you receive when you pass go, you can change the amount of money you start with. You can also distribute the properties to all the players so they trade around to get what they want. You can even turn the auctions off.

Overall I like how Hasbro and many other game companies have taken their games to the new level with the mobile versions. They take a great spin on a classic board game. Moving the board game to the mobile platform allows the classics to stay a tradition in the fast pace ever changing world. It also lets developers take a new spin on the same classic by adding different themes to the game.


  4 comments for “Board Game to Application: Digital Approaches to the Classics

  1. lricciar
    February 13, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Mobile adaptations of board games and console games are a big trend app stores. I have played the mobile version of monopoly and although I find it interesting, the repetitive motions of the user versus the computer gets monotones after a while and turns me off from the game entirely. Playing with others on the same device is a lot more similar to the board game and more interactive, but If you have no one to play with, how long can you play against a computer before a rage quit or just plain old boredom kicks in? I think this game could be a lot more popular and successful if they put in the option to play with randomly paired opponents over the internet, like words with friends and trivia crack does. Although the person is no physically in the room with you, it gives you the ability to interact with a live person, as you do in the physical version, and play without the routine of a computer. I think that Hasbro is on the right track with mobile versions of their popular board games, but in order to gain more success and popularity, I think they need to find a way to make the mobile game more like the physical version. The reason why we love them so much is that family/friend fun and being together to play something. If mobile versions had the same effect, they could go a lot further.

  2. Andrew Boswell
    February 26, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    I feel like simulations of board games through video games take away the original experience that board games are supposed to give. They are meant to be played next to friends and family with laughs and various taunts. I kind of find that hard to do through simulations of the games unless there is some sort of chat system or voice chat. These simulation not only take away the original experience of board games, but they do give a whole new experience as well. I’m talking about the online experience. With games like the mobile variations of board games or the PC game, Tabletop Simulator, you are able to connect with more people than just your friends and family. You are able to connect to the community of the game itself and become a part of it.

  3. stephk
    February 27, 2015 at 11:42 am

    The recent trend of board games online, to me, is disheartening. I played Uno in the computer back when this was starting to become a thing and found myself doing exactly what you said: I would take my turn, and then go tend to my neopet (remember when that was a thing? Haha). But I found myself getting bored with the real game too. It was a bit of classical conditioning: I “played” the game but multitasking at the same time for so long that when I would play with my family I found myself wanting to do other things at the same time. To my surprise this feeling did dissolve as I got older and began to really appreciate game nights with my family, but the mobilization of the game industry is leading to more people bring unappreciative of playing games with real people sitting next to you and the fun that comes from that.

    As for monopoly, I can rage quit the mobile version easier than with my family, which I feel is a bad thing. It teaches the idea that if we are dissatisfied we can simply quit and do something else,whereas if I am playing with my family I have to play til the death and follow through.

    That being said,I do agree with your last point. Mobile versions lead to development of different spins on classics. As the world leads to more technology,the mobile versions of games can help younger generations develop some love for the classic board games we grew up with.

  4. cliberty
    February 27, 2015 at 11:53 am

    The idea of digitizing board games is something that a lot of people have a big issue with. I have yet to play the video game version of monopoly but I have played Life and Uno video games. In both games playing against the phone there is less of a thrill to the game and turns become automatic and less exciting. When I downloaded those games I had the idea of playing them with group of friends as a more convenient way to play games without having to bring a board or cards along every time. As I discover though mobile board games still in my opinion cannot capture peoples attention enough. When it was not my turn I would hand off the phone to someone else and lose interest in the game until the phone was handed back to me. It was sort of like a group playing hot potato passing the phone back and forth with no one being that interested in the game itself. When the game was finished the “winner” was not even very excited. The fact that the game was not in a space where all of us could see it constantly and keep track of each other’s actions I think was the reason the game did not hold peoples attention. If a board game turned video game was on another platform other then mobile devices, which I believe there are several games out that are, then maybe being able to see the game would make it more engaging to the participants.

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