GameChanger board uses your iPad for board games

We stopped by Identity Games' booth here at CES in Las Vegas to see its GameChanger game board (which you can basically see above, albeit in a very cheery/creepy PR picture setting). Despite the less-than-intriguing marketing, the GameChanger is a really great idea. It's a 1'x3' board with an iPad dock in the very middle. With the help of a free app and some plastic cutouts, you can play physical board games, using your iPad for various digital functions.

In one of the games, licensed from the Magic School Bus brand, each player takes turns "spinning" a digital wheel on the iPad by swiping with a finger. After spinning, each player needs to move their piece around the board. The iPad tells that player where his/her piece should land. When you reach certain spots on the board, the iPad will give players puzzles to solve or trivia questions to answer to move forward.

There will be eight games total on the free app in April, with 12 available by the end of August. In addition to the board games that use plastic overlays, there are also "Action Games" that just use the base board, and allow players to shoot back and forth or get involved in more real-time competition.

The whole contraption, though a little flimsy (the plastic covers just basically sit on the gameboard, and the whole thing is colored with a weird gray look), works very well. The board always knows where it's being interacted with, and the iPad does a great job of keeping games rolling along and mixing physical pieces with digital interactions. I don't think this is the best example we'll ever see of real life and digital interaction like this (in other words, it doesn't change the proverbial game quite so much), but it's one of the first, and it's done very well. GameChanger is available now for US$79.99.

One more thing. Identity Games is also working on an iPhone version of the GameChanger, and while it's not anywhere near done just yet, they did kindly show us an artist's rendering of the prototype, which you can see below. As shown, it's probably designed for four players, and includes options for answering trivia questions with A, B, or C, as well as moving in four different directions. Looks very interesting indeed. The iPhone version is supposed to be out and available sometime around this August, so we'll look for it then.