Can online card games ever match the social element of playing with friends?
The traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ casino experience has always been a highly social one. For many players, a night at the casino is as much about the glitz and glamour as it is about the cards and dice.
For some, it is the opportunity to see and be seen, to mingle and network, while for others it is simply a great place to enjoy a night out with friends. While online casinos can recreate many of the games of their real-life counterparts, from slots to table games like poker and blackjack, they have often struggled to recreate the atmosphere and the social aspects of a casino visit.
However, this is slowly changing, as more and more online casinos start to consider their players’ whole casino experience, rather than just their individual gaming needs. With features like live dealers, football roulette, and social gaming, online casinos, such as 888 Casino, are becoming much more like the real thing and that authenticity is what’s driving a huge surge in online gaming.
Live dealers and croupiers
One of the major ways in which online casinos are seeking to emulate the real casino experience is through the use of live dealers and croupiers. These games deliver the best of both worlds, with the convenience of being able to play from home, or anywhere else for that matter, combined with the presence of a human face.
Instead of playing a computerized version of your favorite games, with digital cards and a simulated roulette wheel, you get to see a real game unfold, with actual playing cards and a real ball bobbling around the roulette wheel, all backed by the charm and chat of your dealer.
Live dealer casino games feel more like the real thing because they offer interaction with a friendly face rather than a faceless computer. For many players this also makes the games feel fairer. Seeing genuine playing cards being dealt, rather than an electronic card appearing on screen, can appear more authentic, even though the electronic version is every bit as random and as fair as a real pack.
Football roulette takes this live dealer concept to a new level, by integrating live soccer updates on match days. A screen behind the croupier shows live-action, while players can also choose to access a range of match and player statistics within their gaming screen.
This not only allows fans to multi-task, keeping up with the action while still enjoying a spin at the roulette table, it also significantly adds to the social side of gaming. Players can share their thoughts on the matches via message board, and the croupiers are always well informed about the sport and can join in the football conversation.
This kind of social interaction with fellow players is an important part of online gaming for many people. Games with message boards allow players to chat while they play and feel part of the crowd around the table, rather than just another anonymous participant.
Some sites, such as Big Fish, even allow players to invite their friends to join them at the online casino, so they can play against each other. The sheer size of most online casinos would make finding a friend at the same table virtually impossible, so this feature is handy for anyone who wants to share their experience as a group.
You can take social gaming further by playing through sites like Facebook. These games are usually free and put the social side first, with leader boards and group interaction the focus, rather than cash winnings. Although they are free to play, the industry is still worth $2.7bn thanks to in-app purchases.
The future of social gaming
Perhaps the biggest step forward in social gaming will be the rise of virtual reality casinos. There are already several early examples on the market, and as these become more mainstream, they will provide the closest thing to being at a real casino, including the opportunity for vastly increased social interaction, albeit via artificial avatars.
We may still be a long way from the virtual world of the OASIS, as featured in Steven Spielberg’s movie, Ready Player One, but technology is certainly heading in that direction. Until then, we will just have to make do with message board chats with our fellow players or get dressed up and head out to the real thing to meet real people.