Game designers are always coming up with innovative new ways to make boardgames more fun and immersive, and adding audio and video is probably the ultimate extra! Here’s a look at some interesting boardgames that use sight and sound to enhance the enjoyment.

AtmosfearBack in the heady days when VHS won the battle of the video formats and people could actually rent and watch movies in the comfort of their own home, some clever designers began adding video elements to boardgames. One of the first was Atmosfear, and now that it’s back in a brand new DVD edition, it seems a perfect time to have a look at boardgames enhanced with audio and video!

Atmosfear was a revolutionary game when it first released (originally as Nightmare) and went on to be incredibly successful. The aim of the game is to collect a key from each of the six regions of the board before heading to the ‘Well of Fears’ in the centre and facing their worst fear in order to win the game!. This must be done before 49 minutes pass, or all players lose automatically.

Atmosfear uses a DVD that acts as a timer (and explains how to play the game), constantly ticking away to the end of the game. The Gatekeeper also frequently appears on screen and causes problems for any or all of the players. Just like its predecessor, Atmosfear features tense and stressful play—players rush to take their turn and pass on the dice as quickly as possible before the Gatekeeper appears and calls on them.

Unlike the original which used a VHS tape, the new version uses a DVD, which means that encounters with the Gatekeeper are randomized rather than in a fixed order, and you can’t predict when he will turn up next. It also means that new events can come up several plays on.

A recent game that includes an audio CD that is an essential part of the gameplay is Space Alert, an ingenious, chaotic and very original experience by Polish designer Vlaada Chvatil. Players are a crew of space explorers surveying a dangerous sector of the galaxy. During the ten minutes when the ship is mapping the sector, the crew must defend the ship against a host of threats, working together to defeat them as they’re announced by the robotic voice on the CD in real time!

It’s an innovative boardgame, and the CD means you’re under real time pressure to use your limited resources in the most efficient way possible. Experienced teams, once they’re comfortable beating the challenges of the core game, will be ready for the even harder expansion: The New Frontier.

Space Alert

Of course boardgames can have an audio component that isn’t actually part of the game play. Flying Frog has included a CD of original music with every one of their game releases, designed to complement the experience and put players in the appropriate mood for the game. It’s a fun extra and a nice way to enhance their very theme-heavy games. Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game, Invasion from Outer Space The Martian Game, A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game and Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game all play like sci-fi and horror B-movie films, so it seems absolutely appropriate that they all come with their own ‘soundtrack’!

Of course, it’s not all about boardgames! For something completely different, try Bedroom Boogie, and adult game that takes boardgames to a whole new level! Lay out the ‘Beat Sheet’ (I’m not making this up!), grab your partner and hit play on your Bedroom Boogie CD. The Boogie Dance Instructor will take you through the basics, guiding you around the Touch Hearts and Sexy Oohs and Aahs—it’s a bit like Twister, only with a whole heap of innuendo! There are 12 hot tracks to dance to including Flaunty Funk, Slinky Slow Numbers, Raunchy Rock and Hot Booty Shaking Beats.

As you can see, audio and video can bring a whole new dimension to boardgames. Next time you’re gaming with friends, try something different and check out these games!