Sometimes it’s nice to get away from technology for a bit, settle down with some friends, and play an entire role-playing game using just pen, paper, and lots of dice. But if that’s a little low-fi for you, then there’s always Pixels, a new set of electronic dice with built in Bluetooth and RGB LED lighting. The dice have launched on Kickstarter, with prices starting at $39. As of this writing, over 14,000 people have already backed the project for a total of over $2 million pledged.
The main attraction here is obviously the colorful RGB lighting, which creator Systemic Games promises will be customizable and programmable via a companion app. The Pixels are also waterproof, charge wirelessly via companion charging cases, and can go for around five hours on a charge, or more if you’re willing to live without the lighting. A range of die styles are available, including D20, D12, D10, D8, D6, and D4.
But for me, the most interesting thing about the dice is how they’ll apparently be able to communicate with Roll20, Foundry, and other online platforms that let you play tabletop games over the internet. At the moment a service like Roll20 relies on either virtual dice rolls, or rolling a traditional dice and then reporting back to your games master. In contrast, the Pixels could offer the best of both worlds, by letting you roll a physical die and automatically reporting the result.
Yes, there are a lot of obvious jokes to be made about not being able to play a pen-and-paper RPG because your dice aren’t charged. But if you like the thought of having Bluetooth-enabled dice that light up like Christmas trees, then the Pixels are available to back on Kickstarter until April 8th. One die (including charger) starts at $39, or you can get a set of seven dice and a charging case for $199. All of the usual warnings about backing Kickstarters apply, but if all goes to plan the Pixels should ship in around 12 months.
A note on crowdfunding:
Crowdfunding is a chaotic field by nature: companies looking for funding tend to make big promises. According to a study run by Kickstarter in 2015, roughly 1 in 10 “successful” products that reach their funding goals fail to actually deliver rewards. Of the ones that do deliver, delays, missed deadlines, or overpromised ideas mean that there’s often disappointment in store for those products that do get done.
The best defense is to use your best judgment. Ask yourself: does the product look legitimate? Is the company making outlandish claims? Is there a working prototype? Does the company mention existing plans to manufacture and ship finished products? Has it completed a Kickstarter before?
And remember: you’re not necessarily buying a product when you back it on a crowdfunding site.