From Physical to Virtual: Playing Our Favorite Board & Card Games Online

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Before there were computer games, friends would gather together round tables to entertain themselves with board games or cards. With a pack of playing cards, people could be endlessly entertained playing anything from Snap to Poker.

Classic board games like chess, go, or backgammon have been around for thousands of years. Then there are modern classics such as Monopoly and Cluedo, or more complex adventure games like Dungeons & Dragons.

In recent years a new generation of games like Cards Against Humanity and Settlers of Catan have come to the fore. For a serious offline gamer, the choices available in 2021 are too numerous to count.

Alongside this, computer gaming is more popular than ever and everything from arcade games to sports simulators can be played online. From Super Mario to Grand Theft Auto, what can be played on an electronic device is limited only by imagination.

That doesn’t mean the two worlds exist entirely separately, what can be played offline can also be played online. Software designers have for a long time enjoyed the challenge of turning our favourite card and board games electronic.

As the world has changed it is not always possible for people to gather physically together to play games. Our lives are busier, or relationships more wide reaching, but our desire to play together remains as strong as ever.

To that end, here are some of the best board and card games which can now be played online.

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Many will remember Deep Blue beating Garry Kasparov in 1996, but chess has been played on computers since the 1950s. From the first days of the internet, gamers have been able to play against each other rather than pre-programmed algorithms.


This now ubiquitous card game was invented in 1971, just 30 years later people were also playing it online. The digital version features special cards, voice chat, and a global table where players can compare their results.


Both the official version and a series of imitators of this word game are now available to play online. The ability to pick-up and put-down a game of Scrabble has made it ideal for mobile gaming with multiple opponents.

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This property building game is renowned for causing arguments amongst family and friends as competitiveness kicks in. An extra advantage of playing this online is the removal of the lengthy set up time.


The classic card game of skill and psychology, traditionally played in smoky rooms or glamorous casinos. Few games have translated better to the online world than poker with hundreds of different styles and providers now available. Arguably one of the most versions of poker is Texas Holdem poker which has been popularized not only within movies, but also on televised Poker tournaments and remains increasingly popular online too.


Another established online favourite, what used to be played in huge halls can now be enjoyed on almost any device. Bingo has leant itself particularly to mobile gaming, allowing it to attract huge new markets and a resurgence in popularity.

Dungeons & Dragons

You might think such a complex fantasy role playing game would struggle to find a place in the online world. If anything screams ‘creative solutions’, however, it’s this game, and dungeon masters have been holding court online for years.

Settlers of Catan

This world building strategy game has, in recent years, moved from a niche market into the mainstream. This success has been helped massively by the movement of Catan and its various versions to the online world.

Cards Against Humanity
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Cards Against Humanity

This party card game of dark humour took the world by storm after its release in 2011. It has quickly moved online, allowing inappropriate jokes to be fashioned no matter where you are in the world.

This list could go on forever, it seems anything we can play offline can be converted for online play. This is even more the case since the creation of online platforms such as Tabletop Simulator.

This software, sometimes referred to as a ‘multiplayer physics sandbox’ seeks to emulate the online world in a digital environment. It allows individuals and communities to come together and digitally recreate real world games.

With a platform like Tabletop Simulator, almost any card or board game can be imported and played in an online space. Users build boards and playing pieces and share information with each other in a collaborative process.

Increasingly, the barrier between the physical and the digital is being broken down and games are moving between the two. We have even reached the point where card game makers are skipping the real world entirely and heading directly online.

Gwent: The Witcher Card Game and Hearthstone are classic card games in every sense. However, rather than being released as physical games and translated for online play, these were designed to be played online.

Similarly, Yu-Gi-Ho!, formed from the Japanese manga franchise, was developed as a trading card game and computer game in parallel. The traditional route of adapting from physical to online is no longer the only way things are done.

Nothing will ever replace the close social contact of gathering around a table to play our favourite games. The digital world, however, particularly the online arena, will always find ways to bring us something both similar and different.

Friendships are no longer restricted by physical distance and can be formed and maintained from distant points around the globe. Thanks to online gaming and adaptations, we will always be able to play our favorite games with our far away friends.

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