3 Games That May Qualify as Video Games as They Straddle The Line


Video games have never been more popular.

Video streaming platforms like Twitch have helped catapult eSports leagues to the forefront of entertainment sectors around the world.

Meanwhile, advances in cellular networks mean that more people are playing mobile titles from smartphones—casual and competitive—than ever before.

The frontiers in gaming have never been more expansive. And as the gaming sector becomes even more profitable, new game developers and production groups are starting to pop up around the world. Even indie games are seeing their day in the sunlight and gaming events like Insomnia draw hundreds of thousands of gamers in.

As more publications zero in on video games and topics like eSports, new questions are being asked.

One of the biggest questions posed by the industry is whether professional gamers in eSports leagues are considered athletes.

But there’s another question that’s muddying the waters—what qualifies as a video game in the first place?

Keep reading for three games that straddle the line.

1. Slots

Back in the early 1900s, slot machines gained popularity throughout the US. The machines had a single level of play which sent a reel spinning. Players were paid based on the reel’s final combination. Today, the same is true for digital slots, which rely on things like random number generators to simulate randomness.

But understanding modern slot machine mechanics isn’t nearly as simple since the top games today are digital. They aren’t just about winning combinations, but also about dynamic characters, settings, and storylines that play out through bonus rounds and similar features. Given how the game progresses, it closely mirrors video game formats.

For example, Gonzo’s Quest depicts eight different reel symbols, but there are another five unique icons waiting in the game’s bonus round. The bonus round also shifts the background setting and audio, adding new depth and dimension to the slot.

2. Digital Card Collectible Games

Digital card collectible games (DCCGs) have their origin in collectible card games (CCGs) like Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh!, which gained popularity in the 1980s and 90s. As video gaming took off on home consoles in the 1990s and early 2000s, some of these card games opted for a digital format.

This meant that they weren’t only video games—but also virtual iterations of a card game, much like online poker today. However, that changed in 2014 when Blizzard Entertainment released Hearthstone, a fully digital CCG…. or the very first DCCG.

Hearthstone includes multiple gameplay features that wouldn’t be possible in a real-life counterpart. For example, the ‘discover’ option lets players temporarily access a certain card, which wouldn’t be possible in person. Viewed in this way, the game combines elements of both traditional video games and classic table games. 

3. Piloting Simulations

Though VR headsets are all the rage, not many people know that the original VR games were actually designed for simulation training. The first VR attempts were clunky and ultimately failed but were designed to train pilots rather than entertain gamers. In fact, pilot simulations, along with racing simulators, remain incredibly popular, used by private companies and the US military alike.

Here, the focus shifts from entertainment to education. Keep in mind that flight simulators aren’t just used for education. Many of the available programs are developed as video games, letting players emulate the feeling of flight. In some cases, normal and combat flight simulators involve pricey and detailed rigs that recreate a cockpit.

And these setups might look incredibly similar for a gamer who is simulating flight for fun and a student who is learning how to pilot a plane for professional purposes. So, what makes one a video game and the one an educational simulation? It’s all about the objective.

A gamer wants to push their skills to the limit to attain a new leaderboard position or possibly even qualify for a major flight simulation tournament. They can walk away at any time without repercussion. On the other hand, a student will be motivated by their future ability to pilot a plane safely and under pressure—and there are real-world consequences if they don’t perform.

So, rethink your concept of video games as new frontiers with AI and VR enter the eGaming and eSports industry with innovative solutions.