Not many gamers know this, but one of the first games developed in 1968 included an AR head-mounted display, similar to today’s VR headsets. The game was The Sword of Damocles, created by computer scientist Ivan Sutherland. It paved the way for the first VR pursuits by NASA in the 1980s… and also instilled fantasy as a core genre in video games.
Since then, fantasy has become one of the top themes in video gaming. The world’s most popular and lucrative eSports league titles contain extensive fantasy elements, including Dota 2 (a spin-off of Warcraft), Fortnite, League of Legends, and Hearthstone. Each revolves around otherworldly challenges, whether related to character powers, settings, or, like Fortnite, fantastical beasts like zombies.
The emphasis on fantasy also rings true for games played out on a smaller scale, including casino titles. The more online slots a casino has, the more likely it is to attract a player—and one thing a player always looks for is the diversity of themes, from action adventures to ancient myths and legends. One of the most popular genres found on any platform is fantasy.
For example, LuckyLand Slots offers titles like Enchanted Fairy, Dragon’s Den, Money Monsters, and more. The games include imaginative characters and storylines that play out across a spinning reel, representing a broad interest in fantasy. Clearly, fantasy and games are a match made in heaven…. But why?
Before games tackled fantasy, the genre was largely the realm of folktales and, literally, fairytales. Authors like the Grimm brothers revitalized interest in forgotten stories in the mid-19th century, which helped inspire 20th-century fantasy writers like JRR Tolkien and George MacDonald. These early stories helped usher in an era of unbridled creativity.
In other words, storytellers started to invent their own worlds and ways of being in the 20th century. They could buck tradition entirely, use fantasy to comment on contemporary topics, or re-explore a period in history through an imaginary new lens. The sky has always been the limit, and the freedom of creativity has led to some truly unforgettable stories and worlds.
A New Twist
Fantasy remains at the forefront of storytelling because it’s constantly evolving. The range of video games mentioned above displays this tendency, as games like Dota 2 stemmed from the success of previous fantasy titles like Warcraft.
For example, Garena Free Fire is a battle royale game released by Vietnamese developer 111dots Studio in 2017. The game borrowed from other action-adventure titles with fantasy characters, such as League of Legends. Developers added a new twist by creating characters based on Southeast Asian cultural heroes.
These include characters based on Manny Pacquiao (a boxer from the Philippines) and Joe Taslim (an actor from Indonesia), to name but a few. In this case, fantasy is used to highlight and preserve culture while adding exciting new twists.
Variation in Sub-Genres
Clearly, fantasy and action-adventure pair well together as genres. However, one of the most enduring features of fantasy is that it couples well with just about any genre. In fantasy fiction, for example, one of the most popular subgenres is ‘romantic’, which combines romance and fantasy themes.
Let’s cover a few examples to highlight how varied and layered these sub-genres are. Assassin’s Creed blends elements of factual history within its story, making it a historical fantasy action-adventure. A title like Marvel’s Spider-Man instead sticks more wholly in the action-adventure genre… but, as a superhero project, is also considered fantasy.
Meanwhile, the Legend of Zelda falls into the category of high fantasy action adventure due to its open-world concept. This closely mirrors other successes like the Final Fantasy franchise, which is considered a fantasy role-player action-adventure series.