Most video games are designed specifically for digital play, yet there are a surprising number of classics that have made their way to the online realm too.
From card and board games to murder mysteries, activities that we once associated with the real world are now available in digital form. But how well do they convert?
Board games once brought the life and soul of the party to living room social time, and are still popular in tabletop form today.
Classic board games are now also available online, as mobile apps and as console or PC titles. Far from dying a death in the face of a digital takeover, Monopoly, Scrabble, Risk and more have found a new following on the internet.
Monopoly, for example, still sells millions of physical boards per year. It has also been released on just about every console and device since the Commodore 64, and is now available on iOS and Android, Playstation, Xbox and Switch, among others.
The game converts well to the digital space for a number of reasons. Firstly, accessibility. Players can jump online and easily find a lobby for a game.
Second, the gameplay is smooth and fast online. There’s no more waiting around for dice rolls, counting cash, and sorting properties; it’s all taken care of with digital animations and simple buttons to click in order to make a choice.
Risk, available on PC, console, and in many variations on apps, is another game that benefits from this speed boost. No more pushing dozens of pieces around a cluttered board. A visual-numerical representation makes reading the state of play easy and making a move near-instantaneous.
The downsides to online board games include unreliable servers and unreliable opponents. A server crash three hours into a game of Monopoly is a nightmare scenario. Someone may as well have walked in off the street and flipped the board. Similarly, a player leaving mid-game because they sense they cannot win seriously disrupts the dynamics – and it happens a lot when playing online.
Classic card games have also made major moves towards the digital space, and this has been welcomed by hundreds of thousands of players online.
Poker is still popular as a live casino game all over the world, but is now drawing in even more substantial numbers of players online. Whether live or online, Texas Hold’em is the most popular variant, followed by Omaha and Draw variations.
There are dozens of platforms on the internet for playing poker with real money, as well as apps and games that don’t involve using any real funds.
The game itself benefits once again from an improved pace online. It takes a lot of time to shuffle, deal cards, and place bets in a real life environment; this is once again simplified when using an app or online platform, with buttons and hotkeys available to quickly take action and timebanks to ensure noone can delay the game.
The flip side is that, online, poker can lose some of the more sociable aspects, including the banter, the physical reads and tells, and the excitement of a coinflip hand playing out in front of you.
Once again, the major benefit is a more accessible playing field. Whether it be poker, or other popular card games like Uno, games are nearly always running in the digital realm.
Murder mysteries and escape rooms
If you’ve not heard of the digital version of these games than you could well be in for a shock. We usually think of escape rooms as being a get together activity for friends or work teams. The same is true of murder mystery nights – we imagine being at an old mansion or inviting a creepy host round to a birthday bash.
Yet both murder mysteries and escape rooms are available online.
Online murder mysteries usually run on existing chat services like Zoom, where you’ll hook up with a group of friends to take on puzzles and figure out who the killer is.
You can get free (or paid) downloadable murder mystery packs online to run these games yourself. Or, you can pay a company to host the online event, providing themes, visuals, character descriptions, and keeping the storyline on track. We recommend the latter for the best experience.
When it comes to online escape rooms, this time you’ll usually pay a one-off fee for the room, which you can then play on your own or with friends whenever you want.
As online games, murder mysteries and escape rooms convert reasonably well, but they do lose some of the buzz. It’s fun to work together online, but it’s even more exhilarating to be in the real world, feeling the emotions of knowing an imposter is among you, or working out an escape from a physical room.