Over recent years, online variants of leading games have become increasingly popular. This is especially true when one looks at their uptake in relation to the growing prevalence of smartphone users in the world today.
Many of our favourite classic games have a unique appeal that can only fully be experienced in-person, playing with your friends and loved ones. While that is undeniably true, if we stick too close to that assessment we may fail to notice all the quality-of-life improvements, and innovations, their digital namesakes have to offer.
One of the best gifts to committed gamers the digital revolution can offer is a suite of new and innovative ways to develop one’s skills. Take chess for example, whose leading online incarnation is to be found on Chess.com. This site is actively used by millions of players of all levels, with even the world’s top ranked grandmasters preferring to play on it when not using a physical board.
Chess.com provides users with deep and comprehensive tutorials on virtually every aspect of gameplay. This interactive tutorial format, most of which is available totally for free, is of massive benefit—both to players who are just learning the ropes, and more seasoned gamers who want to go-over the fundamentals. This site also employs the internationally recognised Elo rating system, the professional skill rating system used in chess. Beginner players are allotted a value in the range of 1200, with players of increasing skill coming in at ever higher ratings—with grandmasters ranked over 2500.
This precise rating system can be invaluable for developing players, and can be used as a means of setting up ranked matches with players of an equivalent, or even superior, skill rating. This is a surefire way to supercharge your growth, as you stand to learn something new from each successive match-up with a player that will earnestly test your abilities.
Instant Access and Remote Social Experiences
Another note-worthy asset digital variants bring to the table is their on-demand nature. In our busy lives, it can be difficult to find the time to physically meet and play games together. Likewise, if the game in question requires equipment you don’t have at your immediate disposal—like a pool table, you may similarly find yourself unable to play your chosen game whenever you wish to.
Online platforms circumvent this, by offering true 24/7 access to your favourite games. Reputable names in the world of iGaming, such as the well-stocked platform PokerStars Casino, even offer round the clock access to live dealer rooms. Such services not only give gamers access to the titles they want to play, when they want to play them, but crucially go some way to providing the kind of social connection and immersion that underpins much of the positive regard we have for the games in the first place.
On-demand play is all well and good, but what if we do want to play with a specific friend or loved one, but they aren’t available or accessible to us ordinarily? This can often be the case when someone works irregular shift patterns, or is working or travelling abroad. In such situations, games like Words with Friends—a digital title based on the classic word-puzzle board game Scrabble, lets two players compete against one another asynchronously.
This means that one player can make their move, and the game will alert their opponent, who then has the opportunity to respond with their own move at a time that suits them. Thus, two friends can keep in contact and maintain a regular running schedule of gameplay together, even in spite of the obstacles laid down to that being achieved through more conventional means.
Many turn-based games, such as chess and popular card titles, can be played in this asynchronous manner through online platforms today. Even Wordle, an effectively single-player game, attributes much of its popularity to friends comparing anonymised results with one another based upon that day’s puzzle.
Inclusivity and Accessibility
Another area where digital variants of popular games have made meaningful strides over the past decade is in the realm of inclusivity. Differently able gamers have disproportionately reaped the benefits of the increasing popularity of digitised games because such titles, being software, are often able to provide more specific and custom accessibility features that may be lacking in their physical counterparts.
For example, a game rendered on a PC screen can benefit from screen-reading software that can prove a vital entry for gamers who struggle with their vision. Likewise, the ability to re-map inputs means that those with differing physical requirements are able to optimise game layouts to their liking.
Even the ability to switch-on subtitles and to customise these with different font weights – a common request of those who live with dyslexia – can make all the difference for certain individuals.
The wider games industry has made meaningful strides towards promoting and encouraging developers to incorporate such features, and while more can always be done, this points to a promising trend and one that highlights just how impactful digital variants can be for granting entry to games that would be otherwise impossible to play for those with specific accessibility needs.
Digital variants also offer unprecedented security features when compared with their physical counterparts. While this is an area we seldom pause to consider – after all, few people would think to steal your chess board. But there are certain scenarios where the added security hardening afforded through playing games on modern hardware, protected by biometrics and encryption, can be significant.
For example, in real money games, the ability to safely transact and deposit funds while playing is significantly safer and more secure than handling cash in a physical setting. What’s more, should any suspicion of foul play arise, modern secure digital platforms will be able to produce a verified digital paper-trail of your transactions, facilitating speedy resolutions to such issues and providing incontrovertible proof of all in and out-goings.