Neolithic Boredom: How Bingo Conquered Time
Once upon a time, board games served as the physical definition of the word ‘traditional’. Stacked in forgotten piles and covered in dust, titles like Scrabble, Snakes & Ladders, and Operation usually went months without even a second excursion to the living room floor.
Of course, by the time the biannual game night rolled around again, the mice from Mouse Trap would have somehow managed to escape the box all on their own.
The era of board games as an occasional and somewhat unfashionable mode of entertainment went the same way as those plastic mice around the turn of the millennium. An unusual mesh of physical and digital features typifies the modern board gaming niche today.
Bingo provides a useful case study for the ongoing evolution of board gaming. The development of online versions of the pastime inevitably thrust board gaming into the hands of new audiences. The popularity of bingo online is perhaps owed to exclusive features such as incentivising welcome bonuses, no deposit schemes and live, real-time bingo rooms that offer interaction with other players and the bingo caller. Interestingly, the rise in online bingo has also produced an uptick in the number of people visiting bricks-and-mortar venues, too. This goes to show that innovative adaptations in the modern day have succeeded in keeping an old pastime as relevant as ever to new audiences.
While app-based games like 7 Wonders and Carcassone do away with the dice and cardboard altogether, titles founded on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding websites revel in the tactile nature of board games, providing a modern twist on the concept without really changing much at all.
Despite its simplicity, bingo is actually one of the more modern evolutions of board gaming, appearing around the middle of the 16th century. The wider hobby actually began thousands of years ago, with games like Twenty Squares, a board game of Mesopotamia, which has been found in over 100 locations. Put another way, boredom has been a powerful driver of creativity for thousands of years.
Bingo’s evolution has been especially rapid, though. The catalogue of games offered online now includes Slingo, which is a mix of slot machine-style games and bingo, as well as scratchcards based on the venerable number-calling experience. As such, new iterations of the classic game have helped bingo to evolve and appeal to other gaming markets, beneficially broadening the demographic of players.
Deal or No Deal
As with many things, though, bingo’s renaissance can be at least partly attributed to branding. Whether it’s Resident Evil, The Witcher, XCOM, or Game of Thrones, creating an experience based on a popular franchise is almost a license to print money.
Bingo developers have built relationships with TV properties to create new marketing opportunities over the last few years, with the British game show Deal or No Deal becoming the poster child for this strategy. The game’s imagery routinely features on bingo rooms, which gives newbies a familiar starting point. The influence of the Deal or No Deal concept itself is represented in special bonuses, such as the Feature Prize, which takes the place of the more conventional house call in bingo.
Overall, bingo and other board games are some of entertainment’s greatest success stories of the past few decades, firmly entrenching themselves in modern pop culture and no longer evoking memories of rainy Sundays with dice on the dining table.