igital Ludeme Project

Modelling the Evolution of Traditional Games

Ludii General Game System   

   Project   Outputs   People   

The Digital Ludeme Project is a five year ERC-funded research project hosted by Maastricht University.
This project is a computational study of the world's traditional strategy games throughout recorded human history. It aims to improve our understanding of traditional games using modern AI techniques, to chart their historical development and explore their role in the development of human culture and the spread of ludic ideas.


The development of games goes hand in hand with the development of human culture. Games offer a rich window of insight into our cultural past, but early examples were rarely documented and our understanding of them is incomplete. While there has been considerable historical research into games and their use as tools of cultural analysis, much is based on the interpretation of partial evidence with little mathematical analysis. This project will use modern computational techniques to help fill these gaps in our knowledge empirically.

We will represent games as structured sets of ludemes (units of game-related information), which will allow the full range of traditional strategy games to be modelled in a single software system for the first time. This system will not only model and play games but will evaluate reconstructions for quality and historical authenticity. This will lay the foundations for a new field of study called Digital Archaeoludology (DA).

The ludemic model reveals innate mathematical relationships between games, and locating ludemes culturally provides a mechanism for charting the transmission of these ideas across cultures through play. This project seeks to bridge the gap between historical and computational studies of games, to provide greater insight into our understanding of games as cultural artefacts, and to pioneer new tools and techniques for their continued analysis. The aim is to restore and preserve our intangible cultural heritage (of game playing) through the tangible evidence available.


The key research objectives of this project are to:

1. Model the full range of traditional strategy games in a single playable database.

2. Reconstruct missing knowledge about traditional games.

3. Map the transmission of games and associated ideas across history and culture.

Cameron and the DLP are featured in Dutch national newspaper NRC

Start of the GameTable COST action, a four-year network of international games researchers spun off from the DLP

3 May 2023

Day of public talks and workshops on the DLP and ancient games at the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg, Sweden

25 April 2023
Dennis Soemers successfully defends his PhD thesis on Learning State-Action Features for General Game Playing

11–14 April 2023
Walter presents at the 25th Board Game Studies Colloquium (BGS 2023) at Ephesus, Turkey

1 April 2023
Opening of A World of Games exhibition at the Musuem of World Culture in Gothenburg, Sweden, featuring the DLP!

15–18 January 2023
Cameron co-organises Schloss Dagshtul Research Meeting 23033 on Game Measures and Player Experience

31 December 2022
DLP team member Matthew Stephenson leaves to take up a position at Flinders University, Adelaide

24 November 2022
Cameron and Matthew each present papers at Computer and Games (CG 2022)

22–24 November 2022
Cameron is Program Co-Chair of the Computer and Games (CG 2022) virtual conference

24 August 2022
Cameron presents Quickly Detecting Skill Trace in Games at the IEEE Conference on Games (CoG 2022)

4 August 2022
Cyprien Michel-Deletie wins the Kilothon track and Jingyang Zeng wins the GGP track in the Ludii GGP AI Competition

23–29 July 2022
Inaugural Ludii GGP AI Competition with €9,000 prize money! At IJCAI (Vienna)

11–14 April 2022
Second DLP Workshop on Game AI Applications for Historical Games Research

16 March 2022
Walter presents on gaming heritage at ICAS-EMME (Cyprus)

2 March 2022
Atlas interview with Cameron and Walter on Dutch national TV channel NPO2

28 February 2022
Walter explains the first board games for Universitat van Nederland

23–25 November 2021
Cameron is Program Co-Chair of the Advances in Computer Games (ACG 2021) virtual conference

1 November 2021
Cameron is interviewed on Russian TV channel 5 (MIC Izvestia), St Petersburg

28 October 2021
Eric gives a talk on Ludii to the GT IA des Jeux in Paris (virtually)

26 October 2021
The Digital Ludeme Project is covered in WIRED!

12 October 2021
Walter is interviewed by Klagenfurt University, Austria, on "WTH Are Games (and How to Study Them)"

6 October
1,000 games implemented for Ludii!

1 October 2021
The Ludii team present "The Ludii General Game System" to DKE's Games Research Group

29 September 2021
Walter talks on "Games and Artificial Intelligence" at Skövde University, Sweden

6/13/20 September 2021
The Ludii team present a lecture and two labs to 50 Masters students in DKE's Intelligent Search and Games course

4 June 2021
Dennis presents "Discovering Strategies for Ancient Games using Artificial Intelligence" at UM's FSE PhD Research Day

12 May 2021
FAIR Coffee lecture "FAIR Play" at Maastricht University's Institute of Data Science (IDS).

5 May 2021
Walter presents "Board Games in Bronze Age Cyprus" in the Locus Ludi Online Seminar Series.

28 April 2021
Walter presents "Playing with the Past" at the Studium Generale, Groningen University.

16 April 2021

Eric presents at the Board Games Studies (BGS 2020/21) colloquium.

15 April 2021
Cameron defines ludemes at the Board Games Studies (BGS 2020/21) colloquium.

14 April 2021
Milestone: 1,000 entries in the DLP database of the world's most important traditional strategy games!

13 April 2021
Walter and Matthew present at the Board Games Studies (BGS 2020/21) colloquium.

8 March 2021
Walter presents at the Jouer dans l’Antiquité workshop (Fribourg).

5 March 2021
Cas Giepmans joins the Ludii team as our next Masters Research Intern.

20 December 2020

Cameron presents at the Playing with Memories conference (Instucen Trust, Mumbai).

17 December 2020
Walter presents at the Playing with Memories conference (Instucen Trust, Mumbai).

5 December 2020
Cameron presents the DLP at ChessTech 2020 session Beyond Chess (London).

1–18 December 2020
Ludii is the official online platform for the ICGA Computer Olympiad 2020!

10 November 2020
Cameron presents the DLP in the Games in Cultural History course at Boğaziçi University (Turkey).

22-25 October  2020
Ludii showcased in a virtual booth at Essen SPIEL.digital (Germany).

September 2020
Eric presents Ludii at ECAI in Santiago de Compestela (Spain).

26 August 2020
The team virtually present a Ludii tutorial at the IEEE Conference on Games (Osaka).

24 August 2020
Dennis virtually presents on Expert Iteration at the IEEE Conference on Games (Osaka).

19 August 2020
Invited seminar on General Board Geometry at Queen Mary University London (UK).

8 August 2020

Walter presents the DLP to the Instucen Trust and Project Khelya (India).

24 July 2020

Official public release of Ludii (v1.0.0).

31 April 2020

Public beta release of Ludii (v0.9.0).

4 March 2020
Cameron presents the DLP in the Open Lecture series (Ipswich, UK).

4 March 2020

Ludii workshop at the University of Suffolk (Ipswich, UK).

27 February 2020
Our intern Tahmina successfully defends her  work on Union Find.

13 February 2020
Talk by Olivier Teytaud from Facebook AI (Paris) on "Zero Learning, Old and New".

11-12 February 2020

Another research visit to the Flemish Game Archive in Bruges.

10-13 February 2020
Visit by Olivier Teytaud (Facebook AI) to get Ludii working with the Polygames platform.

6 February 2020
Walter's work on Senet is featured in Science.

17 January 2020

Invited talk at Mapping Antiquity workshop (Fribourg University, Switzerland).

16 January 2020

Cameron and the DLP are featured in issue #70 of Il Fogliaccio degli Astrattti.

16-20 December 2019
Cameron attends Schloss Dagstuhl Seminar on New Directions for Game AI (Germany).

5–6 December 2019

Invited lecture at the Trier Center for Digital Humanities (Germany).

23 November 2019
Walter presents on ancient games at ASOR (San Diego, USA).

19 November 2019

Interview on US radio show Top of Mind.

13 November 2019
Cameron presents the DLP at New Advances in Game AI (Maastricht).

7 November 2019
Visit and talk by Lisa Rougetet on the Historical Roots of Combinatorial Games.

27 October 2019
Interview in Abstract Games magazine.

24-26 October 2019
Team visit to Essen SPIEL.

16 October 2019
Cameron presents the DLP at Games as Heritage (Bath, UK).

9 October 2019
Walter gives a departmental seminar on his work in the DLP.

2 October 2019
Interview on Dutch Business News Radio's Science Today programme.

26 September 2019
DLP is covered in Atlas Obscura.
We're not playing around!

21 September 2019
Walter presents at the 4th New York Symposium on Board Game Studies.

9-10 September 2019
Research visit to the wonderful Flemish Game Archive in Bruges.

7 September 2019
Public lecture on AI for Ancient Games as part of Maastricht's PAS Festival.

21 August 2019
DLP is featured in VICE magazine.

20–23 August 2019
All team members present papers at CoG 2019 (London). Dennis is runner-up for Best Paper.

13 August 2019
Demo and first public pre-release of Ludii at ACG 2019 (Macao).

15 July 2019
Anthropologist Walter Crist joins the team as our "Cultural" postdoc.

20 June 2019
DLP is featured in the MIT Technology Review.

10–13 June 2019
Dennis presents a paper on feature learning at CEC 2019 (Wellington).

3 June 2019
DAL Dagstuhl report on "Foundations of Digital Archaeoludology" available on arXiv.

24 May 2019
Invited talk by Cedric Piette (CRIL, Lens) on "The Easiest Way to Model Any Constrained Problem (Yes, Even Games)".

17–22 May 2019
Visit by Jakub Kowalski (University of Wroclaw) regarding game description languages

7–10 May 2019
Papers on Ludii and "Mathematics through Games" presented at BGS 2019 in Bologna

23–27 April 2019
Paper on DLP presented at CAA 2019 in Krakow

10–12 April 2019
Schloss Dagstuhl inaugural international research meeting on Foundations of Digital Archaeoludology (DAL).

4 April 2019
Short pitch of DLP at the FSE Strategy Afternoon as an example of research at UM.

28 February 2019
Visit to project collaborator Luis Musquiz from GeaCron in Madrid.

15 February 2019
Postdoctoral researcher Matthew Stephenson joins the team.

27 January – 1 February 2019
Two papers presented at AAAI'19 in Honolulu.

19 January 2019
Cameron and the DLP are featured in Dutch national newspaper Trouw.

26–28 December 2018
Visit to Advisory Panel member Jorge Nuno Silva in Lisbon University.

18–20 December 2018
Visit and talk by Sarah Peoples, Leipzig University, on games and cultural values.

27 November 2018
Presentation at the VSNU meeting of Dutch Universities, Amsterdam.

14 November 2018
Departmental Lunch Seminar, Maastricht.
First team presentation.

8 November 2018
Presentation at University College Dublin.

19–21 October 2018
Research trip to Madrid.

15 October 2018
PhD candidate Dennis Soemers
joins the team.

12 October 2018
Interview on local TV station RTV.

1 October 2018
Presentation to Game AI Group,
CNRS, University Paris Dauphine.

19 September 2018
Article in local newspaper De Limburger.

15 September 2018
Postdoc Eric Piette joins the team.

24–28 August 2018
Research visit to London.

14–17 August 2018
Presentation at CIG'18 (Maastricht).

9–11 July 2018
Presentation at CG'18 (Taipei).

28–30 May 2018
Visit to Flemish Games Archive (Bruges).

23–26 April 2018
Presentation at BGS (Athens).

1 April 2018
Project start.


     Cameron Browne

Maastricht University
Data Science and Knowledge Engineering (DKE)
Paul-Henri Spaaklaan 1, 6229 EN, Maastricht, NL
lkjh   Supported by the
                      European Union. Funded by a €2m ERC Consolidator Grant (#771292) from the European Research Council. lkjh