Board games have made quite the resurgence in the last decade since the importing of Settler's of Catan to everyone in North America. We here at Co-Optimus love tabletop gaming as much as video games and ePawn is bringing a product that will bridge the gap between board game and digital entertainment.
ePawn Arena is a digital board game tabletop that will take board gaming to the next level. It is simply an interactive screen (READ: NOT A TABLET) that utilized patented magnetic technology and some fancy movement "RFID". What does this mean for you? An ultra responsive, affordable way to indulge in your Dungeons and Dragons weekly co-op sessions.
The screen was seen tracking multiple figurines in all of their positions and orientations, as well as displaying all the information for each figure. Being able to track multiple objects in real time is a feat in itself, but ePawn boasts that they are able to track up to forty pieces at one time. That is a lot of hobgoblins...
They are aiming to get the production model out by the end of the year, which is going to be a 26'' screen with a target price of $400. The screen uses the OS another device, plugging directly into a phone, tablet, or PC. In addition to the ePawn Arena being sold to the consumer, there is hope that the technology will be licensed to other hardware producers who are interested in making their own version of the screen.
As it stands there are half a dozen games that currently work on the ePawn Arena, and the real success will come from the games that actually make their way on to the screen. A good piece of hardware like this is only as good as the content on it so ePawn has made it very easy for developers to use the SDK. Quotes from ePawn's CEO in the video, he states that it takes about a day to make the transition from a board game onto the Arena screen. That's less time than it takes to play one round in Axis and Allies.
After seeing the price tag on the Microsoft Surface, I lost all hope of a digital board game future in my house. However the ePawn Arena will actually make this a reality, so sign me up. I'm all for helping board games make a comeback and be popular with the masses again. Weather you are in the middle of a game of Shadows Over Camelot or fighting off extinction in Pandemic, the ePawn Arena looks to bring co-op gamers closer together through the digital age of board gaming.
ePawn Arena trailer: