A deep dive into board games. A journey for the data visualisation project.

Agnes Smans
Project Data Visualization UHasselt
2 min readMar 23, 2021


Settlers of Catan

“Once upon a time, there was a University in the kingdom of Belgium with some students urging for visual stimulus”…

Well, this is no fairytale, it is serious work!

In the scope of our Visualisation in Data Science course at the University of Hasselt we are asked to do a visualisation project about a dataset of our own choice. The course aims for us to understand concepts of how to get data on the screen in an understandable and eye-pleasing manner. To reach this goal, we get introduced to several ways of thinking in the form of a design session on miro (www.miro.com) and gather.town as well as some programming libraries for the implementation of our visualisation.

Regarding the implementation we get to choose from a set of libraries: d3.js, P5, Vega, svelte. There are some considerations to be made about which to use as some are more difficult to learn but more powerful in the visualisation department. D3 for example has a steep learning curve with javascript, but seems to be the most suitable to depict interactive visualisations with its vector graphics instead of pixel based ones. P5 and Vega do not have such a high learning curve. Vega for example is more imperative in its programming style with d3.js as the backbone. Svelte is quite new and is a good consideration because it comes without the slowness and bulk of classic javascript libraries. As it stands the choosing will be at a later date and we might even end up with more than one library.

Now the question left is what to depict? After looking at a lot of possibilities, like road accidents, plastic pollution data, and gun sales data, we wanted to find some more fun datasets to work with. Datasets about Spotify data, Pokemon Go data were more to our liking and finally we ended up with: boardgame data.

Since the covid-19 lockdown has been going on forever, the only escape from the pandemic is to play a boardgame. This is why we based our project on data from thousands of board games from the BoardGameGeek website (www.boardgamegeek.com). We think it would be nice to know which categories make up a great game. Also, which categories form good combinations and are used a lot in different games? And for people who are interested in finding good new games to play similar to their game, making a visualisation of how the categories are intertwined will be convenient.