People love to play games, which is fortunate given that there are now over 1 million or so to choose from on our leading app stores. But what many of these titles lack is any real staying power.

Looking closer, one may discover that the vast majority of games available online are mere vehicles for pushing spyware, and feature little in the way of quality or replay value to speak of.

Of course, this is not to state that there aren’t many incredible games available to enjoy today, from mobile indie master-works such as Monument Valley, to triple-A blockbuster console hits such as Elden Ring.

But some games enjoy a kind of staying power that puts them in an altogether different league. After all, the very oldest digital games still played today – such as Pong – are in their 50s, dating from the early 1970s.

When one compares this with a title such as Senet, the 5000 year old Egyptian board game that would one day evolve into backgammon, the relative brevity of the video game age is brought clearly into view.

Of course, age is not in of itself an indicator of the quality of a game. There are likely countless games from throughout history that have died out. But this just makes the ones that have survived all the more intriguing, as it says something about their quality and replay value.

Now, in our modern technologically connected world, you could be forgiven for thinking that such games are facing an existential threat, but the reality is quite different. It turns out that digitization – that is, the process of converting physical games into ‘video games’ or online titles, is not only preserving some of our best loved games, but giving them a whole new lease of life. Let’s take a look below at two such examples of this phenomenon.

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Online poker has been around as long as there’s been an internet on which to play it, but it’s real time in the sun came in the early 00s during a time of popularity that has since come to be referred to as the poker boom.

This period presided over a transition of sorts, wherein online poker steadily grew to become more popular than its physical namesake. Much of this was spurred on by the rise of players who picked up the game in a digital context, and bested the old-guard of exclusively physical card players.

Now, online poker is more popular than ever, and is home to a number of leading providers that have come to serve as a hub for its online community. On such reputable platforms one can now not only play the game itself with a flexibility of options and variants, but can even learn the finer points of play with courses covering aspects of its theory and concepts, further underlining its central relevance to this beloved and centuries old title.

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While poker is no spring chicken, it looks positively green when compared with Chess – a game that got its start in classical India under the Gupta empire. Since those early days, the game that was once known as Chaturanga steadily evolved into modern chess as it snaked its way along the silk road, through the courts of high Persia and into mediaeval Europe.

Despite this huge span of time, chess retains many of the elements from its colourful past. For example, the bishop is in fact a stylised war elephant – a military unit indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. Likewise, the Rook takes its name from the Persian Rukh, signifying a chariot.

Suffice to say, chess has undergone numerous rebrands and renovations over its 2000 year history, and the jump to online play is but the latest example – though it is arguably the greatest also. Chess is now considered to be the world’s fastest growing esport, buoyed by a resurgence of interest following the historic success of Magnus Carlsen, the so-called ‘bad boy’ of chess who has made the game palatable and cool to a new generation.

Now, – the de facto online home of the game, reports record breaking sign-ups numbering in the millions, suggesting that chess is now more popular than at any other point in its history.


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