What Can Video Gaming Learn From Online Bingo?


Few games have stood the test of time as bingo has. Originating in Italy in the 1500s, bingo evolved over the centuries while still maintaining a popular place in contemporary entertainment. This, despite a constant flood of competition, and newer flashier experiences. Taking a look at online bingo’s key features, we want to examine why it remained successful, and what video gaming might learn from bingo’s ongoing popularity. What Can Video Gaming Learn From Online Bingo?

Keep It Simple

One of the most oft-cited reasons players get into bingo is that it’s simple to learn while being impossible to master. This is an idea that many video games abandon in their attempt to reinvent the wheel, overreaching to the point of alienating newcomers. This simplicity isn’t just in terms of rules, either; it also applies to the physical act of playing the game.

Consider the different types of online bingo available today. From Green Room to Speed Trap, Thai Flower, and more, all of these games can be picked up and played nearly instantly. Compare this to something like the Souls series of video games. Sure, the Souls games have a lot of depth. But their initial hurdle is so immense that many potential fans find themselves bouncing off the experience.

Games that do lean into the idea of simplicity are often those which have the most profound effect on the mass market. Angry Birds was a great example of this, as are the mega-hits of Rocket League, and more recently, Fall Guys. You still need to understand the input for these titles, but once you do, you have all the tools you need. This is bingo gameplay in a nutshell, and it’s served the game well over five centuries.

(CC BY-ND 2.0) by The Bearded Clock


Friendly Competition

Bingo is inherently a competitive game, which is a component often shared by the world of video games. Unlike video games, however, bingo maintains an attitude of friendliness rather than malice. A big part of this is owed to the face-to-face roots that bingo has long employed. This level of interaction fosters a closeness that is difficult to exercise when going straight to a digital battlefield.

Then, why is it that online bingo remains so friendly while video games often veer far in the opposite direction? There are two reasons here. The first is that of legacy, in that physical bingo developed an overall feel on which its digital counterpart coasted. Obviously, this is a difficult path for entirely digital gaming to follow.

The second reason, more applicable to video gaming, is that digital bingo is much stricter in its implementation of social contact. In online bingo chat, strict filters and moderators are put in place to ensure a welcoming environment. Friendly jesting is allowed, but troublemakers are quickly shown the digital door. Compare this to video games, where text and voice chat can often be unmoderated and fall to all sorts of negativity, and the difference becomes clear.

(CC BY 2.0) by Archives Branch, USMC History Division


Finding a Balance

Not all lessons from online bingo translate to video games, and we’re not suggesting they should. What we would like, however, is for more video games to embrace the more welcoming and friendly ideas that online bingo has made common. Not born from a vacuum, these ideas were formed over centuries of physical play, and are often too beneficial to be ignored. We might not expect these lessons to end up as the totality of the new video gaming age. But we’d bet good money on increasingly more aspects being shared going forward.

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