Online gaming has become a veritable behemoth since the early noughties. Thanks to the fusion of random number generators and digital animations, developers have been able to replicate all manner of real-life gaming scenarios. Today, it doesn’t matter if you enjoy rolling dice or prefer to play with cards, there’s something for everyone. And, what’s more, everything is as random and entertaining as it would in a physical setting.
Take, for example, a Swedish favorite, Sviten Special. This poker variant combines elements of 5-card Draw and Omaha to create a dynamic betting game. From this, Swedes can go online and play a variety of similarly hybridized what they’d call “casinospel” (aka casino games), which borrow elements from poker. For example, Aces and Faces is a video poker variant where the aim is to hold and fold cards to make a ranked hand. Then there’s Caribbean Stud, which combines the poker rankings of Stud with the betting dynamics of games such as blackjack.
Of course, this isn’t just limited to Swedish casinos. Indeed, we picked on Sweden because it’s a demonstration of how the internet has opened up board games and card games to international audiences. We could have just as easily provided an example from the UK, the US, France, or anywhere else in the world. The point here is that digital technology has taken popular games and made them more accessible and, in turn, enjoyable for people around the world. The question, therefore, is how did this digital revolution occur? How did we get to the point where traditional games are being transformed into online products?
The History of Board Games and Card Games
We know that games have always been part of human culture. Archaeological evidence from the Başur Höyük burial mound in Turkey reveals that games were played as far back as 5,000 years ago. The 49 pieces of carved stone look to have been painted and show that a domino-like game may have been popular at the time. Moving forward in time, various types of sticks, tokens, and dice have been found in Egypt, Greece, Rome, and beyond. From the history of board games, we also get into the rise of cards. Although the origins aren’t clear, some historians believe the first deck of cards was invented by Tang Dynasty in China, back in the 9th century AD.
Monopoly remains as relevant today as it was in 1935. (Source: Pixabay)
These early offerings laid the foundations for what we see today across the board gaming and card gaming communities. Even though Monopoly might seem like the furthest thing from Terni Lapilli (the Ancient Roman version of tic-tac-toe), it comes from the same place. That place is a desire to test our powers of logic, skill, luck, and timing. Add to this a sprinkling of competition and it’s easy to see why games have been around for thousands of years. From this, it’s hardly surprising that we’re always aiming to customize, convert, and modernize the classics. Sviten Special is just one example of how a popular Swedish card game falls into the same mold as online casino games. However, it’s not the only one.
Keeping Our Love of Games Alive
The aforementioned Monopoly has been tweaked, localized, and updated numerous times since the original board game was released by Hasbro in 1935. From the US version, there are now localized options such as Monopoly UK. There are spinoffs like Express Monopoly and, as you’d expect, online versions of the game. From digital recreations of the original to video games and even Monopoly-themed slot machines, a single concept has been taken to various extremes thanks to our love of gaming. Technological advancements have only helped to foster our desire to play and, in turn, innovate. It’s given developers the chance to make popular games more accessible. More importantly, it’s given them the chance to be creative and use traditional formats in new ways.
This has made online gaming a multi-billion-dollar industry. Card games are wrapped up within the online casino sector which attracts millions of players each year. Indeed, as an industry, online casino gaming is worth upwards of $226 billion. It’s not just card games such as poker and blackjack that are popular online. Board games have been caught up in this wave of digitization. From backgammon and chess to Dungeons and Dragons, Uno, and Life, there’s something for everyone on the internet. What’s particularly interesting about the growth of online gaming is that it’s not all about the technology.
A Community of Gaming Enthusiasts
Yes, having the ability to replicate random results and create unpredictable games in a digital setting is great. It’s also impressive that you can play blackjack, backgammon, and Uno et al via desktop and mobile devices. However, there’s more to it than just technology. There’s a sense of community within gaming. Alongside social media accounts dedicated to card games and board games, there are forums, strategy sites, and video streams. Look at the chess community. Visit chess.com or Chessable and you’ll find thousands of people discussing all manner of topics. There are threads about the biggest mistakes in chess, the best software to use, ranking popular players, and more.
People are connecting through games like never before. (Source: Pixabay)
Taking this to a more interactive level, there are Twitch streams dedicated to poker and many other games. These streams feature strategy content, live gameplay, and so much more. For example, the More Games Please Twitch stream focuses on the stories behind the artwork in board games. That in and of itself is an example of how broad and diverse the world of digital gaming entertainment has become. To get to the point where people are talking about the history of art in a board game shows that the community is buzzing. That’s the past and the present, but what about the future? Where are we going next with board games and card games?
The Future of Board Games and Beyond
The obvious answer is virtual reality (VR). Developers have already shown they can digitize popular games, so the next step is to make them more immersive through the use of VR technology. The examples are already there. Board Games VR on Steam allows users to play chess, checkers, and backgammon in virtual settings. Beyond that, the future is only limited by our imaginations and technology. Indeed, the hybridization of card games shows that combining different things to create something new is popular with gamers. Therefore, we could see more of this in the future. That’s something players of all persuasions can look forward to.