The videogames industry has grown in leaps and bounds since the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, the changes are so dramatic that non-gamers are in for an incredible surprise. From rudimentary arcade-style games like Street Fighter, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Cubis, we now have sophisticated, interactive entertainment. Not to take anything away from those classic videogames, but they simply pale in comparison to what’s available today. For starters, high-tech videogames consoles like the PSP, Nintendo Wii, Xbox and others are capable of multiplayer gaming, full Internet connectivity, dazzling audio-visuals, and a smorgasbord of entertainment options. 3D gaming with maximum immersion is not the exception to the rule, it’s standard. Game developers are going all out to guarantee the most realistic, entertaining, and awe-inspiring experiences ever. Movie-style realism with full character control is the order of the day. Players can immerse themselves in an ambience that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality.
Society has certainly come a long way since Atari games burst onto the scene. Dubbed video computer systems, Atari was great for playing games like Tanks and Pong, with rudimentary 2D graphics and cartridges that plugged in. Atari founder, Nolan Bushnell lived by the motto: Make a Game That’s Easy to Play but Difficult to Master. That statement has far-reaching implications for the gaming industry, and it is the self-same rule that applies to other games as well. Poker is a classic example of a casino card game that is easy to play but difficult to master. However, in the case of poker games there are definite skill and strategy elements at play. That explains why the best players consistently remain at the top of their game, and don’t simply fade away. The guys and girls who created videogames may be nerdy, but it’s thanks to their prowess and tech savvy that we now have video games capable of taking us into another realm.
If you’re still questioning whether games have gone mainstream and affected culture, think of this. Top celebrities in Hollywood, Bollywood and beyond regularly reference video games in their interviews, movies and conversations. Even athletes have cottoned on to the gaming culture and we are now talking about a multibillion dollar a year industry that is growing at a rate of knots. Jon Stewart made reference to Pac-Man when he was interviewing Dr. Nicolelis, while the 2008 US presidential campaign featured a Vote for Change initiative with the racing game known as Burnout Paradise. There are dozens of celebrities who enjoy playing video games, including Mila Kunis (World of Warcraft and Call of Duty), Henry Cavill a.k.a. Superman (World of Warcraft), Justin Bieber (Call of Duty: Black Ops), Megan Fox (Mortal Kombat), Eminem (Call of Duty: Black Ops and Call of Duty: Ghosts), and Zac Efron (Halo). When big-name celebrities like the aforementioned folks play video games, it has a massive trickle-down effect on their fans.
Skill-based card games are hugely popular with a wide spectrum of the population. Blackjack is regarded as a hot favourite with fans, but it’s poker that rules the roost at college campuses, home-based games, and casinos. Most everybody knows about Texas Hold’em – the most popular poker game. However, 7 Card Stud is equally enticing. Long before Texas Hold’em became King of the Hill, 7 Card Stud dominated. It’s an extremely challenging game to play, but richly rewarding. The game originated in the US, in the Midwest, and it was hugely popular during the American Civil War. Each player was dealt 5 cards, but this later changed to 7 cards years later. Up to 8 players can enjoy this game, and it is played with a deck of 52 cards. The goal in all instances is to win the chips, or the cash, by forming the best high 5-card hand or low 5-card hand among the players. If you can successfully get other players to fold, you will walk away a champion. Examples of celebrities who enjoy poker games include Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Shane Warne, Toby Maguire, Shannon Elizabeth, and Jennifer Tilly.