I'm writing an article on games developed by Open Source principles.

The games are not software, as "Open Source" might suggest, but made from paper, wood or something else physical. My problem is that most readers who only look at the title would assume it's about software, not hardware.

What would be a good term for these games? So far I have thought about "physical games" or "hardware games", but I'm sure there is something more catchy.

  • 1
    What about "board game"? Commented Dec 29, 2013 at 0:17
  • How inclusive does that term have to be? Do you only write about games played at a table? Or do you include sports games, LARP, kids playing, crosswords in newspapers, drinking games etc.?
    – user32638
    Commented Dec 29, 2013 at 6:57
  • It's about games played at a table. However, it would be nice if it's rather inclusive. I like the term "traditional games", as @SF suggested below.
    – Marcus Bitzl
    Commented Dec 29, 2013 at 15:05

4 Answers 4


Traditional games - used mostly everywhere as the term to contrast against Video games. The term encompasses card games, board games, pen&paper RPGs, miniature strategies, games of skill, and so on. Interestingly, many of casino games are excluded - except for these which are commonly played for fun outside of casinos (you'd find Poker to be commonly talked about in traditional games communities, but Roulette - not really, it's just called a casino game.)

The term was first coined in the video game industry as the term to encompass video games genre, that simulates the "non-computer games" as they were called before the term made it back into mainstream. Currently, you'll find this used e.g. as Ebay category name ("traditional and board games" - some of modern board games don't like themselves counted among "traditional", well, take a game that takes 2-4h just to learn the basic rules!), or as names of communities on popular sites like 4chan, SomethingAwful.

  • Thank's for your suggestion. I like this term as it is not only clear, but leaves some room for the reader's imagination.
    – Marcus Bitzl
    Commented Dec 29, 2013 at 15:08
  • @MarcusBitzl If you use "traditional games" in your article, make sure you define it. I wouldn't understand it in the sense of being not computer games. Traditional games to me are games that have been in a culture for a long time and are part of a cultural heritage, e.g. rugby or cricket as opposed to the ubiquitious soccer/football, or specific children's games.
    – user32638
    Commented Dec 29, 2013 at 20:39

Board games? Pen and Paper games? Card games? Table-top game?

  • That's not one term but many. A board game is not a card game. I'm sure Marcus does not want to list all types of games each time he wants to refer to them.
    – user32638
    Commented Dec 29, 2013 at 6:44
  • It was a list that he could choose what would be most appropriate for his article. I still believe that any of these, whether or not they apply to everything at once, are still more catchy than "non-computer games", no offence.
    – elburzs
    Commented Dec 29, 2013 at 6:51
  • 'Table-top games' was the first thing that popped into my head.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Dec 29, 2013 at 21:09

There is no term that includes all types of games that are not software, but you can create a term that excludes computer games, for example "non-computer games".


From my experience with our game design/publishing company I've found the most common name in the industry of board and card games is "table top games", it covers any game played on a table (board games, card games, RPGs, etc...) and is recognised by most gamers.

Alternatively "hobby games" or "analogue games" are also common.


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