Virtual experiences have risen to dominate the modern entertainment industry, and video games make more money each year than movies and music sales combined.
In this scenario, you’d be forgiven for thinking that more traditional games based in physical reality rather than in the digital realm would have faded into history.
However, many of the classic table games from years gone by are not only alive and well in the 21st century; they’re thriving.
So what’s behind the unending popularity of games as varied as poker, blackjack, baccarat and even more recent, yet still analogue, experiences like Magic the Gathering?
Randomness is infectiously appealing
All card games involve the element of chance, as that’s what makes them interesting. In fact, it’s almost a mathematical certainty that whenever you shuffle a deck of playing cards, the order they end up in is unique. Basically, no other person in history will ever have shuffled them into that exact arrangement, and furthermore, no one ever will.
This introduces real randomness to table games which developers of their digital equivalents have to recreate using complex algorithms. And for plenty of players, nothing beats the genuine article.
Of course you can still learn strategies and tactics to turn the odds in your favor, as evidenced in this blackjack guide for newbies. But the element of unpredictability is what keeps vintage card games interesting.
Accessibility is important
Another key reason that old-school games remain relevant today is that unlike their digital counterparts, they don’t cost a lot of cash to access and also don’t rely on other modern conveniences to stay up and running.
If you want to play blackjack, poker, solitaire or any other game devised using a standard deck of cards, you just need the deck itself. If you want to play any digital game, you need a device like a PC or smartphone, as well as internet access and a reliable source of power.
Whether you are in the center of a busy city or in the middle of the wilderness, card games will be there for you. The same is not true of digital services.
It’s a bit misleading to pose vintage card games and digital variants as in competition with one another. In actuality, plenty of players who have grown up with easy access to high tech devices learn about traditional games by playing them digitally first. Then, when they find themselves with a deck of cards, they already know the rules of games that can be played using them.
This means that the digital world is essentially perpetuating the analogue world, and vice versa. The same is true of things like vinyl LPs, which have enjoyed a revival irrespective of the popularity of music streaming platforms.
The social aspect is unbeatable
Not everyone is content to play games on their own, and even the promise of remote online multiplayer doesn’t scratch the same itch as getting together for face-to-face showdowns.
This is another area that gives vintage card games the edge, since they are built around being a social experience. Lots of people enjoy poker nights, or take visits to land-based casinos, simply because they enjoy chatting and bantering with other players, and sharing time together in a communal way.
Variety is the spice of life
As mentioned, card games have been around long before any digital service was ever developed, and they look set to stand the test of time going forward as well, since they offer excellent variety. From simple games to complex, strategic experiences and everything in between, players of all abilities and experience levels can get something out of them.
While predicting the future isn’t easy, it’s safe to assume that we’ll be enjoying card games for as long as our species is around!