Pubs have always played an important role in British society — community hubs where people can relax, socialise, gossip, and network over a hearty meal. They’ve also given rise to some traditional games, many of which have become so popular that they’ve transcended the four walls of the local and become sports in their own right.
Darts is probably the best example, although its roots are apparent in the celebratory atmosphere of major events. But there are plenty of other games and activities associated with pubs, and some of these have made their way into the digital realm, available as mobile apps for on-the-go enjoyment. Let’s take a look at three examples.
No pub is complete without a ‘fruity’ flashing its lights in the background, and it isn’t rare to see regulars enjoying the machine in a group, trying their luck in a social setting. Fruit machines are perfect for mobile apps — brightly coloured and simple to operate, and they manage to evoke the atmosphere of a local pub even on the small screen. Closely related are slot machines, and these too have transitioned effectively onto the mobile platform.
Slots with various themes, as well as enhanced gameplay, immersive graphics and sound, are now widespread. One look at the array of online slots at Paddy Power shows just how many options are available, with all manner of bonuses and promotions to appeal to experienced players as well as beginners. From the Eye of Horus, Egyptian-themed games to popular Fishin Frenzy titles, it’s clear that slots have come a long way from humble beginnings in pubs and venues.
A game in the shuffleboard family, shove ha’penny was first played an extremely long time ago — in fact, an earlier name is “shoffe-grote” — a groat being an old English coin not widely used since the 17th Century. Despite its age, mobile users can find applications to enjoy the game on their phones and tablets, as well as other shuffleboard-style games.
The gameplay is simple — as the name suggests, players take turns to shove ha’pennies or similar metal discs, up the board, five at a time, in order to secure the highest score, determined by where each coin ends up. The game comes with its own highly developed rules and etiquette, detailed in the amusingly opinionated book The Shove Ha’penny Board Displayed, by author and painter Trelawney Dayrell-Reed.
For example, after shoving, coins must be counted by both players before removal from the board. Equally important are the surface, size, and layout of the board, which can vary from region to region.
Known to Americans as checkers, the game of draughts is a stalwart of traditional British pubs, and is a great way to pass the time with friends. Like chess, it has found its way to countless apps where players can compete against one another, or against AI opponents. Apps that help with tactics and strategy are also widespread, and there are also plenty of variations for fans of the game to learn.
Popular among these include Russian draughts, Turkish draughts, and Canadian checkers. Casual pub games are usually completed within around half an hour, although some epic matches have gone on for three hours or more. Draughts is one of the classic ‘easy to learn, difficult to master’ strategy games, which makes it highly playable for all levels. Its simplicity lends itself perfectly to mobile gaming.
These are just three of the many traditional games you can find in pubs. While the popularity of the games has endured, the advent of technology has introduced new ways to experience these classics, whether it’s down the local or in the digital realm.