The beauty of the gaming industry lies in its versatility. For decades, development studios have experimented with different in-game settings to bring fresh content to the market. In the late-20th and early-21st centuries, Ireland became a go-to backdrop in a wide array of different game creations. From casino titles to sports games and action-adventure publications, the country has established itself as a focal point of the entertainment market. So, let’s look at Ireland’s rise as a video game setting and theme.
Casinos Demonstrate Ireland’s Versatility
While online casinos didn’t establish Irish-inspired games, the high-stakes sector has undoubtedly taken the genre to new heights in recent years. Nowadays, increasing numbers of developers use Ireland as the backdrop to their slot titles, and the concept has proved popular with modern-day audiences. The setting provides the foundations for some of the market’s most well-known titles, including Rainbow Riches. Within the five-reel Barcrest development, the game plays out against a bright rainbow that towers above an animated countryside setting. These typically Irish themes set the tone for the rest of the creation, with Rainbow Riches also featuring a leprechaun, pots of gold, and wishing well symbols.
As touched on above, the online casino industry somewhat spearheaded the mainstream rise of using Ireland as a backdrop in modern-day titles. Not only that, but the sector also successfully intertwined the setting with an arcade-like feel. Rainbow Riches’ animated visuals perfectly match the Irish theme, as Irish culture somewhat prides itself on being charming and light-hearted. Because of this, the two approaches will likely continue to operate hand-in-hand for many years to come.
Opening the Door to Different Genres
While titles like Rainbow Riches have seen Irish settings receive modern-day recognition, they weren’t the first to use the country as a gaming setting. In 1996, Revolution Software developed Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars, which is a point-and-click adventure game. The 25-year-old creation was well received, and it didn’t shy away from adopting an Irish theme. At one point in the game, the protagonist, George Stobbart, frequents an Irish pub. It’s a testament to the title’s pursuit of visual accuracy that PC Gamer describes the in-game pub as “instantly familiar” to those who’ve explored the backstreets of Ireland. Like Rainbow Riches, this scene brings a certain charm to the title by reflecting Irish culture.
Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars is similar to Rainbow Riches in its adoption of arcade-inspired visuals. However, more modern games have sought to steer away from an overly animated style and have instead opted to integrate smooth graphics within an Irish setting. In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the bonus Wrath of the Druids content takes place in Ireland. According to PC Invasion, this feature allows players to visit four regions within the country. These are Connacht, Dublin, Meath, and Ulster, and each of which has its own in-game points of interest.
A Trend with Long-Term Potential
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Rainbow Riches utilising Irish settings suggests that the backdrop is becoming more popular. Though Ireland has been used as a setting/theme within gaming since the late-20th century, it’s a testament to its longevity that it remains central to the broader gaming industry. As evident from the above, this may be because of the theme’s versatility from a visual standpoint, with it seamlessly intertwining with arcade-like and AAA games.