Mon, Jan 13, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Computer games meet the needs of anti-social players


Traditional games and computer games are two entirely different species, many entertainment enthusiasts believe.

On the one side are tried and true gaming classics, usually played around a big table with friends and acquaintances. On the other side are modern computer games, which often seem to define the term anti-social.

Yet the two have more in common that you might think: both can be played on the computer nowadays. Traditional card and board games have succeeded in filling a small but stable niche in the volatile market for computer games.

Chess is the first and perhaps only traditional game that most people would associate with computers. Yet these days there are few traditional games that haven't already been digitized and put on store shelves.

Vivendi Universal Interactive, for example, has put together an electronic game collection for children that includes many traditional favorites: backgammon, chess, dominos, and battleship, alongside card games such as canasta and "go fish."

United Soft Media Verlag from Munich, Germany, also has backgammon as part of its offering, but less oriented toward the children's market. Its bridge software, for example, targets an entirely different audience.

"Bridge is often used by people who want to practice before playing the game in its more traditional form with live partners," says the company's Gabriele Kellerer.

The firm's computerized backgammon is certainly capable of helping players sharpen their skills. "For one, the level of difficulty can be set by the player. You can also have the computer explain whether the move you just made was a wise one or not," Kellerer said.

The sales figures for the computerized classics are respectable. Backgammon found its way to 6,000 or so buyers since it was introduced in the fall of 2001 and bridge passed the register 3,500 times.

Monopoly has also made its way on to the PC. Buyers of the computerized version come from a variety of groups. "Older people buy the game because they can't always find a partner for traditional Monopoly," says Michael Wetzel from Infogrames.

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