Reconfiguring narrative in contemporary board games: story-making across the competitive-cooperative spectrum

Adam Brown, Deb Waterhouse-Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While on first appearance tabletop board games would seem to epitomise 'traditional' or 'old' media, the impact of the rise of crowdfunding and online forums on the production, reception, and actual use of games by players reveals them to be at the centre of the (r)evolution in transmedia (inter)textualities. There is an intrinsic complexity in the multiplicity of narratives generated both within and between various board and card game incarnations; yet, board game culture has thus far been substantially neglected by scholars (with few exceptions) which is also the case in relation to how transmedia relationships reconfigure the meaning(s) shaped by and through texts, by players. This paper will address these issues through a close analysis of selected board games that adapt influential screen texts, highlighting that the frequent subversion of even inversion of the storyworlds of the source texts impact strongly on 'conventional' modes of narrative and identification. Governed by the adoption of various mechanics and innovative uses of the 'competitive-cooperative' spectrum, such transformations in board games frequently entail significant ideological implications - both positive and negative - for how meaning(s) might be generated through play. Through a textual analysis of the board games, complemented by an examination of the reception of these games in video reviews and discussion forums, we argue that the relationship between popular screen texts and the board game narratives that expand, revise and even resist them, offer considerable insight into the complex synergies between form and content.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-19
Number of pages15
JournalIntensities: the journal of cult media
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Transmedia
  • Board games
  • Adaptation theory
  • Transmedia storytelling
  • Card games
  • Firefly
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Spartacus
  • Screen media
  • Reception studies
  • Narrative


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