By Robert Malseed.
The world of gaming has mushroomed with the advent of highly multiplayer sophisticated internet enabled games consoles, powerful mobiles and now the era of virtual and augmented reality games. These project people into worlds that were unimaginable in the past and fully consume peoples attention. Whilst the range and complexity of these games is vast many offer little in return outside of entertainment and they demand increasing levels of power and technology.
Is the future of gaming a world of isolation and constantly sensory bombardment or is there a place for forgotten games of the past?
I rediscovered Aquila, game formulated from a ancient Roman game called Ludus Latorunculorum a few years ago. I have exhibited this game at fairs and shows through out the country and I am always struck by the reaction I get from old and young.
The game is simply based on a 8 x 12 square board with 2 set of 12 coloured pieces and 2 larger coloured pieces and consists of a very few simple rules. The game is strategic with the players having to constantly change their strategies as the game goes on. There are no batteries, complex matrices, rules or pieces and the game is entirely mobile.
As I ponder the direction that technology is propelling gaming I think of the powerful skills that a simple, highly portable game that our ancestors played can still teach us.
Aquila teaches the players various things: 1. Moving Strategy, 2. Patience, 3. Simplicity leading to complexity - in science and mathematics, the most complex systems have the most simple rule.
These are important life skills that can be hard to acquire and need practice but can increase cognitive ability while still being entertaining.
Finally entertaining games from the past do not require a vast array of items, material, electricity, batteries or complex rules. They can be played anywhere, do not need recharging and frequently connect people at a deeper level as they pit their wits agains each other.
As with most things, games have evolved from what existed in the past and are built using the same fundamentals. Unfortunately in this process the older games can get relegated to ‘old is bad, new is good’ mentality. Although progress is welcome sometimes simplicity can out strip complexity without limiting entertainment or learnings.
So as we stare into the dazzling lights of future games perhaps take time out to appreciate the wonders of Aquila and other games from the past.