When we talk about virtual reality in gaming, a lot of the things that come to mind are cutting edge, mind-blowing visual experiences. Indeed, when the whole point is to trick your mind into embracing false realities, we can’t help but imagine what those realities might look like. It’s for this reason that lists like this one pointing out the most exciting experiences coming to VR are packed with sci-fi worlds, racing and flying simulators, shooters and other adventures. We want VR to take us into the big beautiful worlds we’ve already grown accustomed to on consoles.
But while these may be the most exciting possibilities to the broadest audiences, there’s also something to be said for the simpler side of the VR. Each new gaming method or console takes time to develop, and odds are we’re still a few years away from the kind of immersive experiences we like to imagine. At least, insofar as they’ll begin to approach the beauty and scope of modern console games. But in the meantime, virtual reality (and augmented reality, in fact) have significant potential to resurrect some pretty simple old school games in terrific ways.
And by old school I don’t mean Super Mario or old arcade games. I’m talking instead about things like board, casino, and card games – the things we once did around tables with friends and family and which have been adapted for video gaming but not in a way that truly resembles original real world formats.
Already, inevitably, there’s talk of a mainstream poker VR game that will bring the world’s most popular poker game (Texas Hold’em) to modern gaming. That’s not to say poker has been left in the shadows by any means; there are countless platforms for digital poker and of course a few major online sites that have developed massive communities of competitive players. But as this article illuminates, poker for VR will likely feel like an entirely new experience. It’s meant to be social, as you interact with other players using their own VR headsets, but the game is played out in front of you in a very realistic fashion as well, as if you’re actually sitting at a Vegas poker table. There are even clever accommodations made, such as the feature that looking at the pot (the chips that have been bet on a given hand) will make a number pop up revealing the exact worth of the combined chips.
The Hold’em game described above is actually called “Casino VR,” which teases additional casino games in the future. And that can only make one wonder what might be next. Card games have already been rolled out, but one other “old school” casino game that would seem to fit in well would actually be bingo. Many don’t realize that bingo has gained an online presence akin to slots or poker games, and you can see one leading platform’s various ways of spicing up the game in modern ways here. You’ll find themed rooms, special promotions, and perhaps most interestingly of all, live caller games that make the whole experience even more interactive. This sort of game, featuring live interaction, is ripe for adaptation to VR.
And finally, moving away from cards and casinos, it also stands to reason that we’ll see some board games built for VR as well. In fact, according to this report there’s already been an original board game built for VR (called “Lost Cities” and functioning a little bit like a highly interactive version of “Jumanji”). The early impressions on that one are pretty good, but what about existing board games? We’ve already seen countless games in this category (Monopoly, Scrabble, etc.) adapted successfully to mobile gaming platforms, indicating their ongoing popularity. And being able to play them out in VR against friends or family who aren’t actually near us would be a bizarre but undeniably sweet throwback to a type of (non-video) gaming most of us have left behind.
In short, any game you might once have played on a coffee table in your living room has new potential for a revival on VR. It will be the bigger, more inventive experiences that will drive the success or failure of VR in the coming years, but along the way don’t be surprised if some of the most satisfying experiences are the simple ones like these.