Buzz Blog

Quantum Mechanics Board Game

Monday, July 01, 2013
An ongoing Kickstarter project has come up with the perfect recipe for a fun-filled, nerdy evening: quantum mechanics and board games. The people behind indie game company Elbowfish are trying to reach their $33,000 crowdfunding goal to distribute their physics-inspired board game called Antimatter Matters.

In the game, 2-6 Antimatter Matters players assume the roles of scientists in the not-too-distant future trying to assemble matter from stray elementary particles. The standard version of the game pits the scientists against one another in a race to create a hydrogen atom by collecting fundamental particles: electrons, quarks, gluons, and even photons.

You can see the creators describing their game in the video below.



The world of Antimatter Matters is filled with risk. Cosmic ray radiation, antimatter-matter collisions, and equipment malfunctions are but a few of the quantum dangers facing would-be atomic scientists. Players will navigate through the world with an eight-sided die, and players can use action cards to stymie their opponents' quest to complete the atom.

So far, the game looks like a novel way to introduce people to the strange world of quantum mechanics, and the design looks beautiful. The game board features a slew of physics references including three "energy levels" that players reach, entangled quantum pieces, and particle spin.

Board game aficionados over at /r/boardgames initially expressed some reservations about the game's roll-and-move emphasis, but Elbowfish has since expanded their description about the game on their Kickstarter page. Although every player's move starts with the roll of a die, there seems to be plenty of room for strategy in Antimatter Matters.

Different game modes range from competitive to collaborative, and players can increase the difficulty by building more elaborate atoms like the deuterium isotope of hydrogen. To level the playing field, older players can work toward the more difficult deuterium atom while younger atomic scientists can aim for a hydrogen atom in the same game.

As of this writing, the game has received a little under half (about $13,500) of its funding goal ($33,000) with 12 days remaining. You can fund the game yourself for as little as $1, and you can learn more about the game from the prototype manual (PDF).
Posted by Hyperspace

4 Comments:

learnification said...

Leveling legitimate criticism against the game is in no way trolling. Drawing a card and moving is not different than rolling and moving, but the lack of player choice that surrounds this type of game mechanism (having a random event determine where your pawn moves on a board; drawing and moving falls in this camp) is typically considered to be an indicator of an inexperienced game designer in modern hobby boardgames. For an in depth discussion on the topic, it may be worth people's time to check out the Roll and Move episode of the Ludology podcast (http://ludology.libsyn.com/ludology-episode-39-roll-and-move). There are well-regarded boardgames, such as Merchant of Venus, which use this mechanism, but games such as this are exceptions as opposed to rules.

To come at this from the angle of potential audience. Choosing to use the roll-and-move mechanism will severely limit the interest in the game from the hobby boardgamers and hobby boardgamers are the ones that buy the games from small or independent publishers.

Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 11:16 AM


Charlie said...

I didn't know trolls came out from under their bridges for physics games. Heaventwig has it entirely correct, how is drawing cards any different than rolling dice A.C.? (you have better comments at \. BTW.)

And if you've got a better particle physics game A.C., love to see it!

I'm just a potential player and non-academic science fan and it's clearly a great idea for an educational game with a fantastic theme and deeply-pondered mechanics. No surprise /r/ regular had to mount a campaign to right the terrible wrong of a fact-based review that didn't comport with their opinion.

For the rational out there, check out the campaign - they've clearly put a lot of thought into it.

Friday, July 5, 2013 at 8:16 PM


heaventwig said...

In the case of particle physics, randomness is an essential component of realism.

And the choice of an eight-sided die looks to me like a brilliant inside joke about the Eightfold Way - not the Buddhist teaching, but Murray Gell-Mann's approach to organizing octets of subatomic particles.

Just because your preferred modern games use other randomizers doesn't mean that games-including-dice are disrespectful (or abnormal) for their use of randomization.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 2:32 PM


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say they "initially expressed reservations". Roll-and-move is perhaps not a bad mechanic for a century-old children's game, but to use it in a modern game shows a fundamental lack of respect for players.

There are a great number of modern games and they are defined by interesting mechanics, not by pasting roll-and-move onto some subject you like.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 10:06 AM