There’s always been something elegant about games within games and the idea that your in-game character indulges in a little gaming of his own. It’s a concept that has been around longer than many of today’s gamers might realize. Way back in 1984, long before anyone had heard of a PlayStation, never mind an Xbox, Firebird Software released an 8-bit game called The Wild Bunch. In between the gunfights and the other adventures, there was the opportunity to win your character money by playing a simplified version of poker in the saloon. 

It’s a theme we still see to this day. Casino-style challenges are perfect for games within games on a number of levels. For one thing, they can advance the narrative by earning your character in-game money or prizes. But also, casino gaming is immensely popular these days, as the range of real money platforms listed on sites like AustralianCasinoSites (https://www.australiancasinosites.com/pokies/ ) demonstrates.  It means that most of us are already familiar with basic casino games, and it’s not necessary to explain the rules.  

Nobody’s thought of rereleasing The Wild Bunch for Xbox, more’s the pity, but there are other games that have casino-themed minigames within their story arcs. Here are three of the best.  

Grand Theft Auto 

For years, Rockstar Games taunted us with the sight of the derelict casino with its “reopening soon” signs. At last, the Diamond Casino opened its virtual doors in the summer of 2019, and it instantly became one of the game’s most popular attractions. It almost seems disrespectful to call it a minigame, as the level of complexity make this a genuine casino sim. As well as providing the opportunity to win in-game currency, the casino forms the backdrop to what is perhaps the best heist in GTA history. The arrival of the Diamond Casino dispelled any fears that GTA was losing its edge, despite having been around for almost 25 years.  

Red Dead Redemption II 

We said earlier that you can’t play The Wild Bunch on Xbox. That’s not entirely true, as Red Dead Redemption II bears more than a couple of distinct similarities. There’s the Western setting, the imaginative narrative and – the gambling! There are actually a handful of different casino-style games you can try out, but the poker is the game that most players find themselves returning to time and again. It dares to be more complex than most poker minigames, so you’ll need to invest a little of yourself into getting to grips with the rules of Texas Holdem. But it’s well worth the effort.  

The Witcher 3 

It’s impossible to leave it out. Gwent became such a popular aspect of The Witcher 3 that it was released in stand-alone form for the Xbox in 2018. The game might look complicated, but essentially it is just a turn-based card game that requires a delicate blend of skill and luck. Play a few hands and you’ll soon understand what all the hype was about.