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- Board Game Night Goes Virtual with Neverboard
Board Game Night Goes Virtual with Neverboard
In the midst of a board game renaissance, the past year’s board game nights have taken a decidedly virtual turn. For many gamers, Zoom can't quite replicate the social hangout experience around a table, but that may soon change with the release of virtual reality app Neverboard from Evernever Games, a VR game company founded by MSIDBT alumni Jasmine Bulin and Dave Dorn and CTO Austin Krauss.
Designed for the Oculus Quest, Neverboard will be the first virtual tabletop built for a social VR experience. Loaded with games for 2-4 players, Neverboard leverages the immersive nature of VR to capture the magic of board game nights with friends without the hassles of setting up little board game pieces or arguing over rules.
"Board games have this inherent ability to give people the script and mechanics to be fun for each other," said Evernever CEO Jasmine Bulin.
The veteran game developer met her co-founder and COO Dave Dorn sitting next to each other on a bus during their Integrative Practices Residential at the Academy. "On the bus ride, we bonded over shared inspirations around VR and what the possibilities were," Bulin recalls. "We walked away like, 'This can't be the last time we talk, we have to work on something together." The two joined forces with Bulin's colleague, game developer Austin Krauss, and together the team hatched an idea that would eventually become Neverboard.
Dorn and Krauss encouraged Bulin to apply to the Oculus Launchpad program to accelerate the project. Designed to support and promote diverse creators in VR development, Oculus Launchpad hosts a bootcamp for creators to learn best practices for VR development. After Bulin attended, the Evernever team spent four months developing Neverboard's prototype, which won an Oculus Launchpad scholarship in 2019.
That prototype has bloomed into a virtual tabletop that prizes social experiences above all. Neverboard's games are curated to emphasize player interactions, from traditional card games like Crazy Eights, to Evernever original classics-with-a-twist like Treasure, in which players move pawns around a board much like Parchesi or Ludo. But for the Evernever team, the environment is just as important as the games themselves: from the cozy rain "outside" the game room, to tomatoes that explode like comical grenades which Bulin gleefully describes as "Bigger than the grenades in Call of Duty!" – each element of Neverboard is designed to inspire players to have fun together.
"Board games have this amazing power to enrich friendships," Bulin says. "VR enhances the magic of the shared activity by allowing friends to play together anywhere and at any time."
Neverboard is scheduled for release later this fall. It will ship with multiple games loaded, and the Evernever team plans to roll out expansions to add more games over time. Learn more about Neverboard and Evernever Games here.