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Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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The simple pleasure of tabletop games brought to VR

tabletop simulator
The simple pleasure of tabletop games brought to VR

There are some activities that don’t really beat being in the vicinity of other people. Like hosting a karaoke night with friends, soundtracked by the sweet tunes within Def Jam Rapstar (2010). Or spending a night impaling your friends (or foes) in successive rounds of Nidhogg (2014). Most difficult to replicate of them all is the tangibility of gathering around a table with pals to play classic tabletop board games, from chess to Texas Hold ‘Em, and even Cards Against Humanity. Playing with others in the same room is a special sort of magic that becomes lost in most online-only multiplayer games. Unfortunately, some people aren’t as lucky as to live nearby friends and family to share such experiences. But that’s where VR can come in.

You’re actively sharing the experience

Berserk Games’ Tabletop Simulator (2015) is a “free form shared board game.” Which, in layman’s terms, is an endlessly customizable (and shareable) tabletop-esque experience. In a recent update to their much-revered title, Berserk Games have now included HTC Vive support.  In this simulator, mixing and matching classic tabletop game rules and mechanics is encouraged. There is no set winning or losing. Players can even bring in outside models to replicate real life board games that aren’t otherwise included in the game’s package. In essence, Tabletop Simulator is the ultimate sandbox, but a sandbox for the classic games that we’ve all grown up playing.

With VR support, imagine playing chess with your long distance partner. But instead of merely chatting online as you both stare blankly into the screen, you feel as if you’re really together in the same space. You’re sharing that chess board. And you’re actively sharing that experience when you eventually grow frustrated and decide to rage wipe all the chess pieces from the table (because chess gets pretty boring after awhile, and checkmates suck).

tabletop simulator
Unfortunately, players can’t exercise their best pokerface in VR.

There are other creators making socially-driven VR experiences, as we have covered in the past. But with Tabletop Simulator’s newly-added VR support, hopefully more classic, “local”-inspired multiplayer experiences will spawn from it. Since, let’s face it, there’s nothing more fun than showing your friends up during a tabletop game and bragging about it in the process. Now, if only there were VR beers to go with the gloating.

Tabletop Simulator is available during the Steam Summer Sale for 50 percent off ($9.99) until July 4th.

Versions is brought to you by Nod Labs,
Precision wireless controllers for your virtual, augmented and actual reality.
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