Teaching intricate board games has never been easier with ChatGPT. Instead of scouring rule manuals or trawling through online forums, now you can simply ask specific questions and get accurate answers. After weeks of dedicated efforts and fine-tuning, I have successfully transformed ChatGPT into the ultimate board game rules expert. It can “learn” any game, including base games and expansions, providing precise answers with proper rulebook references. It’s not a replacement for deep knowledge gained from actual gameplay, but when it comes to learning or verifying complex rules, my personal board game chatbot has become an invaluable companion.
Overcoming the Challenges
Training ChatGPT to understand board games was no easy feat. While it had been extensively trained on a vast array of data, it lacked the nitty-gritty details found in board game rulebooks. This resulted in occasional inaccuracies, misunderstandings, and hallucinations when it came to answering questions that didn’t align with the game’s exact phrasing.
Take, for example, a specific question about the popular cooperative game, War of the Ring, which happens to be one of my favorites. In the given instance, ChatGPT got the overall concept right, but its answer was completely off. The “hunt dice” had nothing to do with the number of “Gandalf characters” in the fellowship. In truth, there is only one Gandalf, even if there are multiple Maiar.
These challenges posed a trust issue with ChatGPT’s responses. At best, I couldn’t fully rely on its information, and at worst, it could be entirely misleading. However, the allure of utilizing ChatGPT for board game rules was too strong for me to abandon the endeavor. So, I took a leap of faith and subscribed to ChatGPT Plus for $20 a month to access GPT-4, the cutting-edge chatbot model. I experimented with both official and Chrome extension-driven web browsing capabilities, and even tried Google Bard as a substitute. Unfortunately, none of these alternatives proved entirely satisfactory. They either required overly specific questions or lacked the ability to delve into the intricate details that often arise in board game rules.
The Game-Changing Solution: ChatGPT Plugins
Enter ChatGPT plugins, a true game-changer. These plugins unleash the power of outside expertise and effort, augmenting what OpenAI has created and taking it to new heights.
If you’ve read our coverage on the best ChatGPT plugins, you’re already aware of our explorations in this field. However, one plugin, in particular, stood out and brought my journey to create the perfect board game chatbot to a satisfying conclusion: ChatWithPDF.
ChatWithPDF is a groundbreaking plugin that enables direct communication with PDF documents. This feature proves invaluable as most board game rulebooks exist in PDF format. These can range from official rulebooks to fan-created versions and rule summaries from esteemed sources like the Esoteric Order of Gamers. You can even create your own PDF if you have a physical rulebook at hand.
Once you provide ChatGPT with access to the PDF and a specific prompt to establish context, you can effortlessly pose any board game rules-related questions. And the results are impressive.
I put ChatGPT to the test, asking questions about various games including War of the Ring (with two expansions), Battlestar Galactica (with three expansions), Leaving Earth (with both expansions), Twilight Imperium, and Kingdom Death: Monster. In each instance, ChatGPT performed admirably, providing nuanced and clear answers.
There were occasional hiccups when the ChatWithPDF plugin didn’t respond or displayed error messages, rendering it temporarily unavailable. Regrettably, ChatGPT provides no indication regarding the unavailability of specific plugins, leaving users in the lurch. So, if you rely on your game bot for a crucial game night and it fails to function, there’s not much you can do.
Fortunately, these hiccups were infrequent, and the plugin generally worked exceptionally well. My only major gripe was that ChatWithPDF could only consider one PDF at a time. Consequently, when I wanted answers about a board game expansion while retaining the context of the base game and the ability to reference those rules, I had to merge the PDF documents manually. Thankfully, numerous methods exist to combine PDF files, although some tweaking of the original prompt is necessary to ensure ChatGPT understands that these are distinct games with specific inquiries.
Building Your Own Board Game Rules Chatbot
If you’re eager to bring your own board game rules expert to the table during your next gaming session, follow these simple steps:
- A ChatGPT Plus subscription
- A laptop, tablet, or smartphone for quick chat access during the game
- A PDF document of the game you wish to play, including any expansions
Step 1: Upload your PDF file to a cloud storage service. I used Google Drive, but any online storage platform with shareable links will do.
Step 2: Log in to OpenAI and start a new chat session.
Step 3: Select the GPT-4 language model from the top of the screen, then head to the Plugins section.
Step 4: Click the small box under the language model selection window, scroll down to the Plugin Store, and select it. Use the search tool to find ChatWithPDF and click Install.
Note: There are other PDF analyzing plugins available, but I haven’t extensively tested them. Feel free to experiment with them at your own discretion.
Step 5: Close the Plugin Store. If you don’t see ChatWithPDF selected, click the small plugin box again and toggle ChatWithPDF on from the list.
Step 6: Return to your cloud storage platform and ensure the PDF you want to reference is accessible to anyone with the link. The process may vary depending on your chosen platform. Here’s how to share files on Google Drive.
Step 7: Copy the link to your PDF file, then return to ChatGPT. Use the following prompt (or customize it to your liking), making sure to include the PDF link. This prompt helps ChatGPT eliminate unnecessary chatter, avoid common errors, and stay clear and concise:
“Here is a single PDF containing [Number of] board game rulebooks for [Board Game Name]. Familiarize yourself with them. When I need to check a rule, I’ll ask you questions. I expect clear and concise answers, without any guesses or hallucinations. If you don’t know the answer, please indicate so.
When answering rules-based questions, provide a rulebook reference within the PDF and the corresponding page number.
Do not identify yourself as an AI language model, refrain from apologizing, and avoid including extraneous information beyond answering the question and providing the rulebook reference.
Step 8: Hit enter and wait for ChatWithPDF to respond. Parsing large PDF files may take up to a minute, but once it’s ready, you’ll receive a notification stating, “The PDF containing the rulebooks for [Board Game Name] and its expansions has been successfully loaded. You can now ask any questions about the rules of these games.”
Step 9: Pose your questions and patiently await ChatGPT’s responses. Response times may vary, ranging from under 10 seconds to around 30 seconds for larger PDFs.
Room for Improvement
Throughout my ChatGPT journey, I’ve encountered a variety of experiences. Nevertheless, creating a board game rules chatbot has proved genuinely beneficial. It helped me win a rule clarification race with my brother, who had to sift through multiple rulebooks, and it taught me the intricacies of slingshot maneuvers in the Leaving Earth expansion, Outer Planets.
ChatGPT excels at summarization. Learning from a PDF rulebook becomes significantly easier when information is presented in bullet points, and it can even generate examples that are more than satisfactory.
However, perfection still eludes us. Sometimes, ChatGPT assumes a query is more general and provides information about real-world rocketry rather than the specific game being discussed. It performs best with verbose rulebooks, drawing from multiple explanations to deliver a comprehensive response. Rule summaries, on the other hand, yield mixed results as they often lack the necessary information for ChatGPT to work with effectively.
Despite its imperfections, my new chatbot rules lawyer has never misled me. Its errors are obvious and inconsequential. I can wholeheartedly rely on it to facilitate my learning, teach others, or find answers without resorting to scouring Board Game Geek threads. It’s truly a time-saving solution.
My only lament is that ChatGPT comes with a subscription fee. Paying $20 per month solely for a board game rules lawyer may seem excessive. However, if you already have a subscription for work or experimentation purposes, this feature is a great addition. Ideally, companies like BoardGameGeek or Wizards of the Coast should develop their own chatbots for public access.
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This article was written as an SEO copywriting assignment for OnSpec Electronic, Inc..