The Most Famous Legends & Mythologies of Online Gaming
What makes The Asgard and The Egyptians such a compelling basis for video games?
We’ve seen no end of slots based on famous myths and legends over the years. IGT’s Cleopatra was one of the first true smash hit slot machines to span both the casino floor and the online market, and its follow up Cleo II has gone on to be a legendary money-spinner for the casinos of Las Vegas.
One quite cynical suggestion might be the fact that these are huge name properties that can be used free of charge by any developer who wants to utilize them. The same is true of Christmas and Santa Claus, and look how many games are based around those legends – and how hugely popular they are around the festive season.
But developers only want to use these legends so much because they are so popular, so why do we enjoy folklore and mythology so much even as adults? It’s a tough question to answer, but the fact that there is no license fee to be paid to create a slot based around, say, Egyptian Mythology, leaves developer’s imaginations free to run wild and experiment with the concepts in new and interesting ways.
Iterating: From Book of Ra to Book of Dead, Doom of Dead, Legacy of Dead, Legacy of Egypt…
The classic 2005 title Book of Ra from Novomatic was hugely popular when it was launched, so it was no surprise to see its central idea cloned and copies by other developers over the years. Such was its pull on the casino floor that Novomatic was initially reluctant to license the game to even the best online casino, for fear of hurting their profits selling cabinets.
What has been surprising has been seeing just how far away from the original game we have eventually come in terms of features and gameplay. On the one hand, you have straight-up clones like Book of Dead – which even goes as far as copying the famous explorer character (naming him “Rich Wilde” too… these slot developers, they do have a sense of humor) as well as the expanding symbol bonus round.
Book of Dead was created by Play’N’Go, who later created another Egyptian-mythology-themed slot titled Legacy of Egypt. This game perhaps didn’t make as big a splash as it should have – it’s an amazing slot, with huge winning potential and a bonus round that re-triggers frequently, awarding as many as fourteen additional free spins each time it does.
Perhaps eager not to see their hard work go to waste, Play’N’Go later went on to merge ideas from Legacy of Egypt together with Book of Dead. The result is a fantastic ultra-high variance version of Book of Ra that allows you to collect multiple expanding symbols during a single bonus round.
The Influence of These Games on the Wider Industry
When you have these massively popular games being created based around ancient legends and myths rather than movies, books, or comics, it does seem to affect the direction the industry takes as a whole. Developers realize that their money can be better spent on developing ideas and features rather than big-name licenses, and that has to be a good thing for players.
That’s not to say there isn’t a place for games based on popular culture – of course, there is, and many of those games will go in to be insanely popular, too. But the ideas and features that go into these big-name titles today often tend to be imported from other games that have proved to be winners with the gaming public at large. Nobody wants to spend millions on a license only to see the game flop and never receive any playtime.
And for every game that is directly based on a big name franchise – say, The Lord of the Rings – you’ll have dozens of other games set in similar worlds, that might later go on to spawn equally big franchises of their own. Endless characters and creatures are seen in both video games and online slots that have spawned directly from the heroes, gods, and demons featured in stories that are thousands of years old.
There seems little doubt this endless cycle of continued iteration, innovation, and development will continue into the future. Classic literature, classic myths, they seem to have an appeal which is just timeless – perhaps it’s because we all experience them as children in the form of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, Superhero movies, and the like.
Whatever the case may be, as long as we continue to be enthralled with myth and legend, the game providers are going to continue providing experiences based upon them.
Garon Cockrell is the Founder and Editor of Pop Culture Beast and host of The Pop Culture Beast Show. He founded the site over seven years ago to have a place on the internet to write about the things he loved. Since then, Garon has become a best-selling author (Demonic and Other Tales), an award winning screenwriter (Best Screenplay 2013 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival), and a cast member on the top rated podcast, Never Not Funny.