UVU Computer Engineering Capstone Project

Automated Dice Counter for Tabletop Role-Playing Games

Team Members: Sean Terry, Russell Collett

Faulty Advisor: Dr. Afsaneh Minaie

Dice RPG Poster

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report, only 60% of students in the United States have developed basic mathematical skills by the time they reach grade 12 [2]. Furthermore, this measurement by NAEP has seen no significant change since the year 2005. While a lack of mathematical skills can be compensated for with the assistance of technology such as a calculator in most cases, there are cases in which currently available technological assistance falls short.

An example ofthis can be seen in Tabletop role-playing games (RPGs). Tabletop RPGs tend to rely on the player’s mathematical skills regularly throughout play, and the time in which it takes for a player to calculate numbers in game seriously detracts from the quality of the game as a whole. To illustrate the impact mathematical illiteracy can have, we can start by estimating the size of the player base of Tabletop RPGs, a group that has seen a surge in popularity in recent years [1].

According to an interview of Dungeon and Dragons (D&D) brand director at Wizards of the Coast, an estimated 12-15 million people play D&D in North America as of 2017 [4]. According to an industry report by the ORR group, D&D only makes up about 60% of the overall tabletop RPG player-base [3]. This puts the total estimated Tabletop RPG player base between 20-25 million players in North America. This number continues to grow, with user bases for tabletop game-oriented websites like BoardGameGeek.com growing as much as an average of 50% a year,tabletop conventions seeing steady growth over the last decade, and an increasing commercial market for the games [5].

When we combine the player base data with both the NAEP report and population statistics, we can estimate that in the United States between 7.1 -8.9 million Tabletop RPG players do not have basic mathematical skills. This player base estimate does not take into consideration many factors such as skew in data caused by sampling biases, percentages of Americans who receive highereducation, etc. However, this estimation does serve to illustrate the existence of an unmet need.

Our dice detector aims to not only help those players that might struggle with adding up multiple dice, but to improve the quality of life for all players. Some tabletop games, like Warhammer 40K, can have players rolling as many as 30 dice. By detecting the dice and adding them up automatically, a significant amount of time can be saved, especially over the course of longer game sessions. Cool dice, game pieces, and gadgets are also often collected by players, leading some tabletop companies to explore augmented reality games and devices [6].

The dice detector is a device that clips onto the edge of a dice tray, detecting dice rolls, identifying the numbers rolled, and summing them up. The results are displayed on an onboard display and relayed via Bluetooth to a phone application. Other functionality is offered by the phone application, including stat tracking, custom settings, and data export.

[1]H. R. Gerber, “The Rise of Tabletop Gaming,” Voice of Youth Advocates, vol. 41, no. 5, pp. 46–49, Dec. 2018.
[2]“NAEP Mathematics 2019 Highlights Grade 12,” The Nation's Report Card, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/highlights/mathematics/2019/g12/. [Accessed: 11-Feb-2021].
[3]“The Orr Group Industry Report: Q2 2017,” The Orr Group Industry Report: Q2 2017. Roll20 Blog, 2017. [Online]. Available: https://blog.roll20.net/posts/the-orr-group-industry-report-q2-2017/. [Accessed: 11-Feb-2021].
[4]P. C., “How Many D&D Players Are There Worldwide?” DungeonVault, 10-Oct-2020. [Online]. Available: https://dungeonvault.com/how-many-dnd-players-are-there-worldwide/. [Accessed: 11-Feb-2021].
[5]P. Konieczny, “Golden Age of Tabletop Gaming: Creation of the Social Capital and Rise of Third Spaces for Tabletop Gaming in the 21st Century.,” Polish Sociological Review, no. 206, pp. 199–216, 2019.
[6]PlayFusion, PlayFusion and Games Workshop Join Forces to Create New Warhammer AR, Physical and Digital Trading Card Game, 27-Jun-2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/playfusion-and-games-workshop-join-forces-to-create-new-warhammer-ar-physical-and-digital-trading-card-game-300616832.html. [Accessed: 11-Feb-2021].

Students' Presentation