"Patience is the mental equivalent of jogging: its purpose is to tone the brain up and get rid of unsociable mental flabbiness." David Parlett, Penguin Book of Patience (1979)
Patience, the card game often referred to by its American name, Solitaire, has risen in popularity markedly since 2008 according to Google Trends. It is set to soon overtake poker as one of the most popular online games, which is astounding since poker had a humongous peak in popularity back in 2005 overtaking all other card games.
A recent study conducted in collaboration with Betfair Casino found that three in every four adults between the ages of 18-55 were familiar with the card games Solitaire and Blackjack and had been shown how to play. Whilst close to one in every four have been shown how to play poker, only one in every twelve have ever played Baccarat.
The study has shown the popularity of traditional games, although they are more widely played online in a digital format.
One reason for the popularity of Solitaire is down to Microsoft. Their famous PC adaptation of the game (the first of its kind) has been pre-installed on every Windows machine since 1990.In fact, research from the US tech review company CNET, estimates that collectively, players have spent approximately 9 billion hours on desktop Solitaire since its launch.
Large organizations, such as Coca-Cola and Sears, are reported to have had Windows’ Solitaire game systematically removed from all workstations.
In June of 2012, Cardiff born Laura Rich completed a world record 30 hours playing Solitaire Blitz (PopCap, 2012).
In 2015, to mark the 25th anniversary of the desktop game of Solitaire from Microsoft Solitaire, a World Championship game of Solitaire was launched, initially between Microsoft employees and the public. The physical card game dates back to 1783 and famous fans of the game include Napoleon and Winston Churchill.
According to Professor Jeffrey Goldstein, who undertook a study in 2003, test subjects' cognitive skills and general sense of wellbeing ranked statistically higher after playing computer Solitaire.
Betfair’s recent research also found that the only traditional card game that survey participants could play confidently other than Solitaire is Snap. This data suggests that maybe with the advent of technology we have moved to more solitary games.
Games inventor and historian, David Parlett, says “Personal technology, in the form of home computers and smartphones, is inherently solitary. It is inevitably reducing people's sociability and sense of community.”
Parlett himself plays the notoriously solitary game, Sudoku, before he starts each working day. David is a Visiting Professor in Games Design at the University of Suffolk and therefore thoroughly up to date with the latest games, he goes on to say:
“I don't think people will ever move away from technology, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll completely drop analogue games.”
Christian de Ryck from the International Playing-Card Society is a surprising fan of electronic card games. He says “Electronic solitaire games have three advantages: fast shuffling, fast arrangement and suitability for smartphone”. He goes on to suggest that we will play games more collectively as devices and games develop and we utilise artificial intelligence.