The world of entertainment does not exist in a vacuum. The reason it has been so successful – across TV, film, video games, movies, and even modern forms of entertainment – is because each aspect informs the others. Books lead into movies which then have comic book tie-ins and video games produced. These video games may then go on to produce a related casino game. The connection between video games and casino games has always therefore been strong. But why do so many video games opt to use casino-style gameplay?
Casino Cutaways in Video Games
Casino style gameplay is universal. Most people understand how it works and it can be used effectively in a game to add a new dimension or to get around some of the issues that players may have i.e., to try to win back some money for additional items and things to unlock. Or the casino element could be a major plot point in the game itself.
For instance, the Red Dead Redemption games set in the American west feature gambling as would have occurred there historically. Players can wager on many things that wouldn’t typically be found in casinos today – including horseshoes and arm wrestling. The minigames featuring gambling can help earn upgrades to clothing in the game. Using something modern, such as gambling, in a game set in the past, helps connect with players in the present. The gameplay mainly serves as a way for players to earn extra money, which is the primary function of most casino-themed minigames.
The Sims 3 (2009), in a bid to replicate all facets of everyday life, features casino content available to purchase as DLC. The Lucky Simolean pack allows sims to visit a casino and level up their gambling abilities. You can then design and build your own casino. Designing is a major pull for people playing The Sims. The casino minigame element helps break up the gameplay and provides a challenge for those who play The Sims on the ‘hard’ setting.
Ubisoft’s Far Cry 3 (2012) also features Texas Hold ‘Em poker minigames as you travel through the tropics visiting outposts. The benefit of a minigame in Far Cry is that any winnings you make can be used against the purchase of items to help you progress through the game. They also offer a break from the tension and an opportunity for players to do something different and rest their trigger finger.
Grand Theft Auto used similar casino-themed minigames to help players earn some extra cash for their in-game activities. The GTA series prioritized the open-world features alongside the story mode. Players can engage with slots, craps, and poker in GTA: San Andreas, for instance. While some may have just skipped over the gameplay, others made a point of hitting up every single minigame on offer.
Video Games Inspire Slot Games Too
The shared audience between casino games and video games doesn’t just result in video games with casino cutaways, however. Video games themselves have inspired aspects of the online casino. For instance, according to OnlineCasinos, which collects the top casino sites and reviews them based on many factors of player enjoyment, the style of the slot game is integral to a player’s experience. And these slot games are often informed by video games, as the Street Fighter II: The World Warrior slot game shows.
The slot game takes the essence of the video game (and later movie) series. The original arcade game used basic commands and simple graphics to deliver a game that has clearly endured through time. The NetEnt slot game uses this and infuses it with slot gameplay. The arcade-style graphics of fighters (including Ryu and Zangief) are overlaid with the slot reel. Motifs, sound effects, and music inspired by the original can be heard to transport players back to the original 1987 arcade game. This in itself captures the essence of the experience in slot form.
Casino Inspiration in Video Games
Casino inspiration in video games doesn’t just have to be something that players engage within a minigame. Many games also use casinos as a backdrop to further the game. Casinos are inherently tense and exciting places that also exude a certain suaveness. So, featuring these settings in video gaming means that the background elements of a game help contribute to how the player should feel throughout the gameplay.
PS2 classic Sly Cooper, released in 2002, features a level entirely set in a fictionalized version of Las Vegas. The classic platform game’s level boss, Muggshot, owns a casino complex and many of the levels leading up to his battle are set in the Boneyard Casino. The game was fairly simple and used the motif of the big city and casinos to bring in recognizable motifs that helped the gameplay.
Dead Rising 2 (2010) is set in an entertainment complex. Within this are several casinos. Not only are casinos available as mini-games, but the casino settings are used as part of the story mode. The backdrop of the casino and the fact it is overrun with zombies take something that most people associate with entertainment and excitement and subverts it. To have zombies among the casino games adds to the normalization of the walking dead in the game series.
One of the levels of the James Bond spin-off game Goldeneye: Rogue Agent (2004) saw the titular character fight his way through the Midas Casino owned by Goldfinger. The game used elements of the James Bond films and combined them. Part of the James Bond appeal is the casino references, so it made sense that an entire level used this iconic setting.
Video games borrow inspiration from any number of things – one of which is casinos. Casino games provide a welcome escape in a tense game or an exciting backdrop to a level. But as much as casino games are used in video games, video games themselves can be the basis for casino games. This helps show just how integrated entertainment is and how much various forms of entertainment feed off each other.