Blackjack has been around for at least a few hundred years. Although not too much is known of its starting point, many believe it was first played around the seventeenth century in France. The game, which was called twenty-one, is usually played by several players; though they are not competing with each other, players attempt to beat the dealer. Obtaining twenty-one points, or getting as close as possible without exceeding twenty-one, is the general aim of blackjack. It is widely played at casinos around the world; however, advances in technology have seen the game expand rapidly across gaming platforms and gained popularity via the internet.
There are a plethora of blackjack games available to play today, but if we look back in history, where did it all start? Possibly the first ever blackjack video game was “Videocart-3: Video Blackjack” for The Fairchild Channel F console, released in 1976. The game, which enabled one or two players to compete, could also have been the first card game to appear as a video game. Another early form of a blackjack game was “Blackjack” for the Atari 2600, which came out in 1977. This video simulation of blackjack received favourable reviews, even though the rules were deemed to be tremendously adverse to the player.
A landmark computer of the eighties, the Commodore 64, had its own blackjack game, “Blackjack Academy”. This simulation came out on the 8 bit console in 1987, developed by Westwood Studios Inc. The Commodore 64’s main rival, The Spectrum ZX had previously brought out its own game, “Blackjack” in 1983. Nintendo not only had its own blackjack game, but went one step further and brought out a handheld version. The “Nintendo BJ-60 Blackjack game and watch series” came out in 1985, giving gamers a unique experience of being able to play blackjack on the go. More recently was the release of “Card Shark” on the Playstation in 1998. The game features several card games, but also a standard blackjack game. Players were given extra bonus winnings for achieving certain card combinations, such as cards adding to twenty-one.
While the game of blackjack has not changed much over the years, the means by which players access the game is vastly different. This is predominantly down to the internet, and the simplicity of finding games to participate in via online casinos. The first fully operating online casino, Gaming Club, was launched in 1995. Its emergence allowed gamers to experience the joys of playing blackjack for real money on a computer for the first time. This was a major step-up from the games of the seventies and eighties. 2012 saw the birth of mobile casinos, giving even more options to the player and a greater availability of blackjack to the gaming world. Today gamers have an option of playing with a live dealer online; giving an authentic casino feel that had previously been lacking. There are also many different adaptations of the game with a variety of rules and betting features.
Blackjack games have moved on significantly in the last few decades, but so has the gaming world. The need to keep up with modern times is necessary and has helped lift the popularity of blackjack. However, homage must be paid to retro games of the past, for giving us a true representation of this fantastic pastime. The game makers who transferred this old card game onto screen deserve recognition.