Tabletop game is a general term used to refer to board games, card games, dice games, miniatures wargames, tile-based games and other games that are normally played on a table or other flat surface.
The term is used to distinguish these types of games from sports and video games. The term is also used to distinguish role-playing games from role-playing video games and LARPs, although role-playing games may not necessarily require a wide playing surface. Another related term is a hobby game.
Classification according to equipment used
Tabletop games can be classified according to the general form, or equipment utilized:
Games like chess and draughts are examples of games belonging to the board game category. Other games, however, use various attributes and cannot be classified unambiguously (e.g. Monopoly utilises a board as well as dice and cards).
For several of these categories there are sub-categories and even sub-sub-categories or genres. For instance, German-style board games, board wargames, and Roll-and-move games are all types of board games that differ markedly in style and general interest.
Classification according to elements of chance
As an alternative to classifying games by equipment, they can also be classified according to the elements of chance involved. In game theory, two fundamentally different elements of chance can play a role:
- Chance due to outcome uncertainty, e.g. due to dice rolls or due to unknown cards being dealt during the game. Games in which outcome uncertainty plays a role are referred to as stochastic games as opposed to deterministic games.
- Chance due to state uncertainty, e.g. due to the opponent's position or cards not being visible, or due to the simultaneous move character of the game. Games in which state uncertainty plays a role are referred to as partial or imperfect information games as opposed to full or perfect information games.
Examples of the chance classification for some well-known tabletop games are given in the table below.
|Full/perfect information||Partial/imperfect information|
List of organizations that sponsor events featuring tabletop games:
- Board Game Geek organizes BGG.CON
- Geek & Sundry promotes an annual International TableTop Day
- The Organization of Gamers & Roleplaying Enthusiasts (O.G.R.E.s) organizes tabletop events for OMGcon
- White Wolf Publishing's Camarilla
- Wizards of the Coast own RPGA
- The Historical Miniatures Gaming Society promotes historical miniatures wargaming and organizes wargaming events such as Historicon
- SaltCON LLC organizes SaltCON and the Ion Award competition for unpublished tabletop games
Numerous independent, local groups run by gamers exist to play tabletop games. Additionally, many colleges have student run organizations pertaining solely to table top gaming. The Collegiate Association of Table Top Gamers is one such organization that has a few chapters at different schools.
- TableTop is a web series about tabletop games. It was created by Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day and is hosted by Wheaton. TableTop is published on Felicia Day's YouTube channel, Geek & Sundry. In each episode, following a brief explanation of one or more tabletop games, Wheaton plays the games with guests, usually web or TV personalities. A wide range of hobby gaming titles have been played, from classic German-style board games and family games to RPGs and card games.
- International TableTop Day is celebrated every spring all over the world. In 2014 it took place in 80 countries at over 3,000 events.
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- Biggs, John (April 3, 2012). "Join Wil Wheaton And Friends In A Rousing Tabletop Gaming Session". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
- Banks, Dave (April 20, 2012). "Tabletop Returns With Settlers of Catan". GeekDad. Wired. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
- Morgan, Matt (March 20, 2012). "Details Emerge on Wheaton-Hosted "Tabletop" Gaming Web Series". MTV Geek. MTV. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
- "Tabletop Day - Geek and Sundry".