Sep 3, 2020, 2:48 pm3.1k pts
Gaming has always been a part of human culture. It allows us to laugh, to challenge ourselves, and to share experiences with others. It needs to be said, however, that this doesn't imply stagnancy. Instead, our need to find and explore something new has constantly pushed gaming to new heights. Perhaps nowhere is this as evident as it is with the development of digital technology.
Starting slow, we would eventually reach a point where any game that could be translated to a digital device would make the jump. While this would start as simple reflections of the base games, the advantages of digital tech would eventually drive newer incarnations well beyond their earlier limits, making them the preferred choice for many. Taking a few standout examples, we want to examine just how far we've come, and why tech and gaming mashups are only going to get bigger.
From Solitaire to Slots
One of the most successful online industries of the last two decades is that of online casinos. The idea started simply, as illustrated through the early success of the first set of inbuilt games that shipped with Windows operating systems. The most famous of these was undoubtedly Microsoft Solitaire, which first shipped with Windows 3.0 in 1990.
Rather than play a part in trying to broaden Window's gaming opportunities, which at that point ran second fiddle to MS-DOS, Window's Solitaire served a different purpose. According to an interview with Microsoft product manager Libby Duzan in 1994, Solitaire was placed in Windows to ease people in, to overcome how intimidating the technology was at that time.
Today, Solitaire is a staple on every Microsoft Windows device
As it turned out, the ability to play this game without having to deal with the physical cards was enormously appealing by its own. Taking note of this, and leveraging burgeoning internet technology, online casinos would eventually develop in 1996 along a similar path.
At first, these online casinos would take the Window route of simple interpretation. Eventually, they would expand massively, utilising the flexibility of software to create a wider range of experiences than what brick and mortar casinos could ever offer.
Slots were most indicative on this front, with thousands of versions now covering every conceivable variation and theme. Going a step further, the ubiquity of smartphones would again open new doors. Today, mobile slots online like Starburst and Aloha can be played everywhere, as a full-fat experience without the common drawbacks that strictly physical games can imply. And this has resonated with the public, considering the recent growth the online casino industry has and continues to experience.
No More Cleaning Up
The same avenue has also been thoroughly explored by more traditional non-gambling type games such as crosswords, sudoku, and board games. For the likes of cross-words and sudoku, immense benefits were found through the streamlining of the creative process. Websites like Crossword Labs, for example, give players a quick and easy way to create their own puzzles and share them among friends or other crossword enthusiasts.
Sudoku can take this a step further. As a game with a basis in mathematic theory, online sudoku generators can automatically produce near-infinite puzzles with just a few clicks. Again, for hardcore fans, this puts anything like a daily puzzle in a newspaper to shame.
In boardgames, these advantages continue, with the addition of a far-expanded player-base. As much as many of us love board games, there's no denying that organising a group and explaining the rules can be a cumbersome endeavour. By offering online versions of these games, players can find instant access to dozens of others looking to jump right in alongside them.
In many cases, like with Monopoly Plus on Steam, it can even be possible to see how many people are playing before you even join. In this case, the average was about 200 people online at one time during the last six months, a lot more than the three friends you've invited to come around who changed their minds. Even better, the strict rules of digital gaming mean that accidents or cheating is a near non-possibility.
In terms of mainstream AAA gaming, there is no illustration of the tech and gaming combination and expansion as strong as the one indicated by Nintendo. Formed in 1889, Nintendo originally found its fortune in playing cards. While the focus on cards would expand over time, it wasn't until much later, in the 1970s, that they turned their attention to the burgeoning electronic realm.
Their first attempt, an electronic beam gun, was a massive success, selling more than a million units. Taking notice of this, and how rapidly the electronic market was developing at the time, Nintendo decided that heavy ongoing investment would be worth investigating. Following up with the Ultra Hand, Ultra Machine, and Love Tester, Nintendo had struck gold.
The first video game system released by Nintendo was the Laser Clay Shooting System in 1973, another breakout hit and potential inspiration for their eventual Duck Hunt on the NES. In 1980, they released the first-ever mobile gaming system, the Game & Watch. Of course, their biggest hit, which would consolidate them as one of the premier gaming companies, was the Famicom Entertainment System (or NES in the UK), which hit shelves in 1983 in Japan and saw a wider release the years after.
Nintendo remembers it's legacy, even in newer games like Smash Ultimate
Since then, Nintendo has been following a similar path to the other businesses explored in this article. Rather than jump straight in and attempt to reinvent their business entirely, the combination of tech and gaming has been a gradual route, developed and explored as new opportunities arise. Eventually, even if unintentionally, this road led them to greater success than traditional methods could ever have generated by themselves.
No End in Sight
Today, around 33 million people in the UK play video games. With digital technology becoming cheaper, the games constantly expanding, and our culture constantly moving towards the experiences this combination allows, these numbers will only grow. At this point, every new opportunity to join gaming and technology will be explored, even if the effort results in a dead-end.
With augmented and virtual reality tech raising the bar even further, we'd be hesitant to say that this is a pattern that could slow any time soon. As far as we've come, and as much as we've explored, the advantages of such a fusion are proving too enjoyable to players and too lucrative for developers to ever leave the main-stage. We're not entering the end-game, rather, we're more likely just warming up.