Open source board game

I’m still searching for a board game producer who can mass produce Net-Map boxes at the price and quality that makes sense. Today I found bluepanther, who look interesting and from their website I landed in a different universe that was unknown to me before: The world of Piecepack.

“Flexible. Portable. Affordable. Public domain. The piecepack is a set of boardgame parts that can be used to design and play a wide variety of games. Anyone may design and publish a piecepack rule set. Any manufacturer or individual may produce piecepacks.”

The piecepack website has an ever growing list of games that you can play with the boardgame  parts. The sets of rules are developed and uploaded by passionate players. In ChoosySushi you are an overworked waiter in a sushi restaurant, in Interstellar Contest you are an alien who wants to build colonies in other aliens’ star systems, while Senat is the adaptation of an antique Egyptian forerunner of backgammon… By now there are 138 games you can play with this basic set of pieces, dices, pawns etc.

I’m fascinated by the idea and by the way the community of practice (or community of passion?) around it works. I would love to develop a similar approach with my colleagues who use Net-Map and adopt and adapt the rules in the field according to their needs, make it a process map, bundle or differentiate actors, invent new symbols for bottlenecks and future links, combine it with timelines, try out different ways of combining the knowledge of more than one interviewee etc.

6 Responses

  1. Even if Net-Map is a low-tech, easy and cheap tool (and this makes it a great tool), an open source toolkit or board game would be really helpful for enabling people developing local projects with it.
    Don’t forget to include the source code in the box, in order to let people modify it and improve it! But you will need to standardize the source code first…and outside software that’s always a really interesting project to do.

    Have you ever thought about a software or a web 2.0 service of Net-Map?

    I hope to see an open source version soon!

  2. Dear Massimo,
    Thanks for the encouragement. That’s why we are looking into who could actually produce the physical tool box (board game style). The “source code” is the net-map manual that you can find on the “about page”. I’m not quite sure if you’d call it source code though because it’s the description of how to use a pen and paper method… Anyway, the manual would be included in the tool box. Hopefully with translations in Spanish, French and German (we are working on that too).

    Have I ever thought about a software or web 2.0 service? Well, thought about it a lot, especially because I have been asked about that a lot. So far it has not gone beyond the “thinking about it” though. That’s for two reasons, one is that that my expertise is more in creating face-to-face solutions, the other is that I think a lot of the strengths of this tool would get lost if you computerized it. I’ve posted about it here:

    I use existing software (Visualyzer) to analyze the results of net-map sessions. However, if someone was interested in developing a web-based version, I’d definitely be open to working on this together.

    • I did not thought the about page as the “source code” just because there are no licenses in it (except the copyright in the header)…
      It seems trivial but actually a license is very important because it is a tool, a social contract that enables the formation of an Open Source community. I would not dare to “modify” the “source code” if it’s not really open!
      You can add a Creative Commons license to it ( but allow modifications of course!
      And if you use wordpress, you can use this plugin for licensing the whole blog:

      I’m very busy right now but you can always contact me for the Italian translation. 🙂

      I agree with you, we should not computerise everything (most of the times it takes too much time to put data from face-to-face interactions in a computer), and Net-Map is so great because it’s easy and it doesn’t need expensive tools as computers.
      But it would be interesting to adopt the concepts of Net-Map (easy to do and to understand, cheap, simplicity) to develop an open tool that integrates the software for analysing data with an easy interview process. We may call it “social network analysis software for the masses” 😉
      I’ve been researching the field of open source software for social network analysis and hopefully one day I will start with other people an open project like this (using also Google Maps or other maps), I will keep you informed for sure!

      • Dear Massimo,
        Thanks for the clarification. As you can see, I’ve followed your advice and added a creative commons license.

        If you find a great open source SNA tool, please let me know. So far a lot of it is geek-ware and not very user friendly. I still think Visualyzer is the one that I have seen that is easiest for non SNA buffs.

  3. Dear Eva,
    I’ve just found a web 2.0 service that actually produce physical board games as print-on-demand products. I don’t know it well but you may find it interesting:

    (more informations here:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: