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Ludology is the study of games and the act of playing games. The term originates from the latin word "ludus" meaning game. 

Matt Southern and Dr Huy. X Nguyen have both contributed their own knowledge on Ludology and game theory to help you understand more about these two concepts. 


Matt Southern

Game Director 

Matt is a Game Director at Lucid Games and has worked in the games industry for almost 20 years. Prior to that he was a researcher and lecturer specialising in video games. He owns a toy and game design consultancy with clients including Sony, the NHS and Lego. 

Dr. Nguyen researches behavioral, information, and welfare economics and loves teaching maths and social sciences. For fun, he practices visual arts and board games; his favourites include chess and Catan. You can learn more about his work at


Dr Huy. X Nguyen

Games Theorist

Dr. Nguyen researches behavioural, information, and welfare economics and loves teaching maths and social sciences. For fun, he practices visual arts and board games; his favorites include chess and Catan. You can learn more about his work at

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Different formats of games:

Hover your mouse over the boxes to find out more.

Roll and Move

Roll a dice, spin a wheel or draw a card, these factors play a major role in determining how the game is played out. These games move in linear directions and the aim is to get to the end. The dice, spin or card determines this. 

Examples include: Monopoly, Game of Life and Snakes and Ladders. 

Cooperative games require all players to work as a team to win the game. Each player within the team will have specific skill which the team will rely on to combat each task. 

Examples include: Lord of the Rings and Pandemic. 


 The point of these games is to build/ grow an environment to survive and win the game. This includes growing food, building shelter and acquiring land, so the player needs to earn the money to build and make money off their environment. 

Examples include: Agricola and Stone age.

Worker Placement

The main factor of this type of game is deception. One of the players will be the an imposter or a murderer but they cannot reveal themselves and must go along with the game. 

Examples include: Secret Hitler, 3 coup and Ultimate Werewolf. 

Secret Identity

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Click on the timeline to reveal information and images about games. 

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History of Game

The discovery of Ludology

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Whilst board games were previously a family activity there has been a surge in game cafes worldwide which have aided in the increase of the board games consumer market. Board games have regained their popularity and gained impressive success, securing a stronger future for board games. 

The current global size of the board games market is $11.95 billion. 

This is expected to reach $12 billion by 2023 as we see the market growing at an increase of 9% annually between 2017 and 2023. 

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Annual board games sales in the past five years. 

What was thought to be the first game ever to be played?
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Incorrect try again

Game theory is the study of mathematical models of strategic interaction among rational decisions makers. 

The theory can be used as a way of providing an explanatory account of actual human strategic reasoning processes. 

John Von Newman, a mathematician, physicist and computer scientist came about this theory with Oskar Morgenstern. 

The two academics wrote the book 'A theory of games and economic behaviour' in order to present and explain their theory. 

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The prisoner dilemma is a concept used to break down the theory. Whilst game theory is mainly used in economics now, it is still very relevant to how we play games. 

The prisoner dilemma mirrors a game played by two players because when playing games players do not communicate with the other player what they plan to do, they weigh up the options and all the possible outcomes of a certain move. The aim is the find the outcome that benefits you most. 

Game theory can provide an explanatory account of human strategic reasoning processes. Which one of these scenarios can game theory assist?
Arms races
Tackling racism
Climate change
The magic circle is a figurative term which separates reality from the game world. When players engage in a board game they enter the magic circle where by they are only focused on the game and agree to adhere by the rules of the game. Once the game has finished players leave the magic circle and enter back into reality. 

Games have the ability to hold a players focus and remove them from reality. 

The magic circle is able to create a special space for the game to happen and take control of players focus. 

Game theory can be understood by this example: 

If a chess board is not being played it does not matter how the chess pieces are laid out on the board. This means that players are not in the magic circle. 

If the board is being played the chess pieces must be in the right place on the board, otherwise the game cannot be played and the rules of the game cannot be adhered to. This means that the players are in the magic circle because they follow the rules and are now playing against each other.


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