25th Board Game Studies Colloquium


Selçuk (İzmİr, Turkey)

11-14 APRIL 2023


THE EVENT

 

Welcome to the 25th Board Game Studies Colloquium (BGSC25) website. 

 

We are thrilled to announce that the BGS Colloquium will be held on 11-14 April 2023 in Ephesus (Selçuk-İzmir), Turkey.

 

2023 is a special year because the Colloquium will celebrate its "Silver Jubilee" in the ancient city of Ephesus, one of the most iconic cities in terms of the long history of board games. In accordance with the legendary-long existence of Board Game Studies, this year's theme is "Myths and Legends" in board games.

 

BGSC 25 Ephesus will be a four-day event we aim to have day trips to various ancient sites around the Aegean coast and in the West of Anatolia, museum visits, the traditional BGSC game night, and conference dinner.


WHY EPHESUS?

Ephesus, which was included in the World Heritage Tentative List by UNESCO in 1994, was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2015. Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia, on the Ionian coast three kilometers southwest of the Selçuk district of today's İzmir province, and later an important Roman city. Its foundations dating back to the Neolithic. It was built in the 10th century BC by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists to replace the former capital of Arzawa. It became one of the twelve cities of Ionia during the classical Greek period. The city flourished after falling under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC.

The city is famous for the nearby Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. Among many other monumental structures is the Library of Celsus and a theater that can hold 25,000 spectators. Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation and the Gospel of John may have been written here.

 

Despite being one of the major cities of the Mediterranean basin, the site has been gradually abandoned starting from the VI century AD. Its monuments have been exceptionally well preserved, including several graffiti and marble gaming boards. A wide analysis of those materials made by Ulrich Schädler, key member in BGS, making Ephesus an interesting case of study and one of the places that significatively contributed to the development of Board Game Studies. 

(Photo: Bruce Whitehill)


MYTHS AND LEGENDS

 

Myth is always concerned with creation. All cultures around the world create stories, and myth-making is an important creative activity. Myths, stories, legends, folklore, tall tales give valuable insights into how people perceive and think about their world. Myth explains how something came to exist. Each generation of storytellers adds another layer of fact and fiction to the myths, such that the themes and characters of myths are timeless, and endlessly relevant, as they are reinvented and reapplied to the lives of each new generation. 

 

A cross-cultural comparison of myths unveils striking similarities regarding themes, motifs, characters, and traits. Board games, likewise, show striking similarities when compared cross-culturally. Cutting-edge projects on traditional board games enlighten us about mathematical and structural relationships between games that have been played in different times in history, in distant geographies, across disparate cultures. Board games we play today are definitely ludic residues of our ancestors' repeated patterns of entertainment. 

 

Games take an important role in various myths and legends around the world: Shiva and Parvati at play; Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades that cast lot to decide on which domain each of them would have ruled; and symbolic power plays between Iranians and Indians at chess and backgammon in Shahnameh… In the same vein, myths and legends might be the central theme in board games, as in many Game of the Goose variations and modern board games on the  Arthurian and Biblical stories. 

Nowadays a myth tends to signify a fiction. We would like to keep the double meaning of myth – a long tradition embedded in culture and a story which is not true. What in board games, then, can be regarded as untrue, or a myth? What are the urban myths/legends in board games? Who are the real legends in board games history? Let's discuss these and more in the mythical atmosphere of Ephesus.