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Casino Games- From 16 Colours to VR - by Marc Armstrong

If you were a child of the 80s, such as myself, you probably have a lot of good memories concerning the games of yesteryear. I fondly recall my father bringing home a DOS based 286 computer, then cutting edge. It boasted a CPU speed that very likely doesn’t live up to a modern washing machine. I played that old PC until my fingers bled, sitting for months as I attempted to get a digital cat up a fence, onto a washing line, and into a window. Alley Cat was the name of that game, and every moment controlling that blocky feline was pure bliss. Recently I made a rather silly decision; I decided, as an adult who still games himself blue in the face until 2Am, albeit playing much more expensive games, to download Alley Cat and relive the glory years experienced by 11 year old me. The result was not pleasant. Alley Cat played like, dare I say it, a long dead cat. The controls were imprecise, and the mini-games, which I had previously adored, an act in pure, unadulterated frustration. This got me thinking; if Alley Cat was a horror show in hindsight, just how far have other games come over the last two decades? Online casino games are soon to step into the science fiction future with VR, so perhaps it was time to go back and follow their advancement from the early days, up until the glory of the modern online casino golden age.

First Digital Casino Games

My journey started by downloading the oldest computer based casino game package I could find. It came from the late 80s, and was by a developer very popular back in the day. Upon opening the game my first thought was that it didn’t have half bad graphics, considering they were made up of a grand total of 16 colours. “Maybe this wont be so bad,” I naively thought. Roughly three minutes later my ears had begun to bleed profusely. The developers had attempted use then cutting edge digitised sound, which surely impressed the hell out of people back in the day. By modern standards the one short loop of “casino ambience,” which consisted of muttered conversations and various other casino sounds, was jarringly loud and painfully low quality. Plus, every time the audio clip looped it made an audible pop. I scrambled about looking for an option to turn off the sound. There wasn’t one. The games themselves weren’t half bad, once you got beyond the extremely awkward controls. But the one glaring thing that I couldn’t get over was the incredible lack of options. My choices were a roulette game, a poker game, a blackjack game, and nothing else.

Improved Digital Casino Games

My next stop was a casino game package from the early 2000s, made by none other than Microsoft. The vast improvements were obvious, and it isn’t much of a stretch to say that the games offered in that era were really not far off from modern online casino games. The player can visit various casinos, and play a respectable number of games. The game avatar can even be customised. The game does somewhat fall apart, however, when it comes to going head to head against opponents. The old game was not online, and obviously did not allow real money play, so it was down to facing a few computer-controlled opponents, over and over again, for pretend money. There was some attempt to give the opponents unique characteristics and play styles, but it all quickly spiralled into being predictable and bland. The situation is not helped by the fact that the unique opponents have been given “witty” audible dialogue lines, which became repetitive inside of five minutes. At least this game had an option to turn the sound off.

Modern Online Casino Games

This brought me back to modern times. After playing old games, logging on to a modern online casino is an instant reminder of how streamlined and accessible the digital world has become. The selection of games is mind bending. Just two decades ago a person could have chosen between a grand total of three games. Now there were so many games fighting for my attention that I struggled to know where to start. And yes, the fact that modern online poker means going head to head against real humans is something that cannot be given enough praise.

In Summary

Taking a trip down memory lane is something I honestly recommend modern digital casino game players do. I anticipated that the graphics in old casino games would be lacking, and they were, but what really stood out are the small things you tend to overlook. The convenience of user controls in modern online casinos is striking. We are on the brink of online casinos going VR, and after this little trip into the past I am now more excited than ever before. If VR really does increase immersion, as I suspect it will, it might just be an era that changes the way we see digital technology forever. 

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