The Power Game: An iconic board game joins the digital age

Review posted Sat 22 Feb '14  ·  4 comments
The Power Game The Power Game Info Visit

The 1970's was a heady time for board games. It was the time before the Taiwanese revolutionized the games business by inventing hand held computer game in the early 80's and flooded the market with them and pretty well annihilated the board game. But it was back in those days that Irish inventor Brian McCarthy came up with the idea for this wonderfully innovative board game while on a plane trip. He wanted to invent a game that could be a competitor to chess but was far less complicated. So he came up with the very original "Power Game" and it was a huge success and sold a million units in the mid seventies. At a chance meeting at a digital games convention in Ireland in 2013, the now 72 year old McCarthy pitched his idea of digitalizing the game and now it has been reborn as an app for mobiles and revolutionized for the digital age.
 
"The Power Game" was one of the most successful board games ever when released across Northern Europe in the mid to late '70's. Now it has been brought up to date and relaunched as a superb digital version of the game. The game was one of a range of 4 ‘Thinking games’ invented by McCarthy and its appeal centered on it being very quick and easy to learn but not so easy to win. It has only four rules of play - the first rule being that white always goes first. The playing pieces were gears that intermeshed with each other with the end result being the turning of your opponent’s Master Gear before your own Master Gear was turned. The game enthralled the young game developers from Atom Split Games who could remember their fathers loving playing it when they were young. A deal was quickly struck and, within a year, the digital version has arrived - complete with sound, light and great movement. While the Power Game broke new ground as a board game back in the 70's by using gears as playing pieces, it breaks new ground again as a digital game with the purchasing limit for all in-game goodies set at €19.99 when everything is automatically unlocked. This is a response to the serious questions being asked of some game developers who are cynically leading young people to make unlimited purchases (usually with their parent’s credit cards) which have been known to amount to many 100’s of Euro. Because it is a game which rewards strategic thinking instead of the speed of one’s reflexes, the in-game purchases are focused only on changing the play environment rather than affecting the actual play - so no play advantage can be bought!
 
The Power Game was a huge success when first introduced in the 70's and it's digitalized version looks like following in its footsteps nearly 40 years later. What makes this version different to the original is that the game was a finished product when sold as a board game, whereas this new version will become an ever-evolving one.  The game looks good and plays well and, even though I have never played the original, its obvious why it was so successful. It's a game that takes some thought - like chess - but is accessible to all ages because of its simple game play. The Power Game is an old school game that is enhanced by the digital age.



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