No media exists in a vacuum, and rarely is that as true as it is in the world of video games. Reaching its tendrils out deep into the surrounding entertainment arena, you'd be hard-pressed to find any form of recreation which didn't inform gaming in some way.
What we want to look at, though, is how other forms of gaming have influenced video games throughout the years, starting with what might be the most immediately obvious example in the modern age.
Loot boxes, as they currently exist, draw their inspiration directly from the world of online casinos. Take a look at something like the online jackpots listed by NetEnt Casino, for example. Exploring this recently redesigned website, you might detect inspiration from the likes of online storefronts such as Steam. Information is king here, with a streamlined approach making it much easier for users.
The part we really want to focus on here comes from the basic idea of slot games. With these, players have an obvious prize they want to aim for as an ultimate goal. You can probably tell where is going, as this is nearly an exact match for what we now call loot boxes in traditional video games.
This is undoubtedly one of the most important and visible borrowed modern aspects, born from a growing complexity of both of these forms of entertainment. Traveling back to the beginning of gaming, however, shows us a development along a different line.
In the early days of video games, simplicity wasn’t just a goal, it was a necessity of the systems. Because of this, many of the earliest computer games were based on already existing board and puzzle games. These drew their strength not through graphical prowess, but from the strength of the gameplay.
This meant that a game like chess would translate perfectly onto computer systems, as would many others with a simple to learn but impossible to master premise. This relationship was more one-sided than the modern online casino example, but it's interesting to note just how long video games have relied on outsiders for inspiration.
Perhaps the most obvious example which has remained in the mainstream for the longest comes from video games' interpretation of physical sports. While early versions of these games might not have been very faithful, or in some cases even coherent, their importance and guaranteed interest to millions of fans have made them a mainstay.
Games like Madden NFL have been running for three decades, with each generational leap bringing with them a new level of fidelity. Having sold over 130 million copies in its lifetime, the Madden series is one of gaming’s most legendary, and its place seems solidified as long as football continues to reign supreme.
So what can we learn from all these relationships? The takeaway is something built into video games, in that one of their primary strengths comes from their versatility. While this might have not been especially true initially, modern consoles have enough power to emulate almost any other form of gaming in some form or another.
When in terms of direct translation like with chess, interpretations as with Madden, or taking individual elements as with casinos, the flexibility of this form of entertainment is second to none. If it can be adopted or adapted it will be, and with new consoles and technologies on the horizon, we can’t wait to see what comes next.