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Today, we’re going to step away from video games and take a closer look at a game type that has been with us for over a millennium - card games. Since Tang Dynasty China, cards have proven to have quite the staying power spawning a countless variety of games as well largely influencing gaming culture, particularly in games like Poker within the gambling industry and also more recently in trading card game communities around games like Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon TCG, and Magic: The Gathering.

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Hi, I'm Andre Meadows and this is Crash Course Games. Today we're gonna be talking about playing cards, gaming artifacts that have truly stood the test of time. These simple, small pieces of paper have been entertaining people for over a millennium. There's a countless variety of card games, from Go Fish to Yu-Gi-Oh! to Solitaire, which you've probably played once or twice on your computer when you're supposed to be working.

And if you need more proof that they're an unrivaled phenomena, we even have a gaming mecca in the middle of the Nevada desert thanks to to the popularity of gambling card games. There was even an entire family of cards that branched off hundreds of years ago and became the modern fortune telling cards we know as tarot. The 20th and 21st centuries have seen a rebirth of the card game; Magic the Gathering helped create the trading card game craze and games like Dominion helped popularize deck building games.

So let's shuffle into the history of card games and see why they're so popular and what effect they have on people and culture.

*intro music plays*

I want to start with a story (1:00) of a man, Seth Manfield. Seth had  a particularly great 2015. He played a life-changing card game, winning the title of World Champion and walking away $50,000 richer. During the game he commanded 4 siege rinos, 3 din protectors, and even tassiger the golden fang. That's right, Seth was playing Magic the Gathering. And just like Seth, Joe McKien also had a great 2015. Joe won the world series of Poker that year. The 24-year-old from Philadelphia walked away with a cool $7.6 million after winning his first ever world series of Poker.

So how do we reach a point where people make a living playing card games professionally? Well it turns out that many cultures and civilizations have always enjoyed a good game of cards. 

Let's go to the thought bubble. Most scholars agree that playing cards were invented in Imperial China as early as the 9th century Tang Dynasty. These cards were originally based on the paper currency of the time. Because using real money was inconvenient and risky, they substituted play money known as money suited cards. There were two varieties: Lut Chi from the south of China that used four suites and (2:00) Kwan Pa'i that had a heavy focus on coin imagery. 

By the 13th century, the Perians had Ganjifeh, which was probably introduced by the mongols or traded on the silk road. And then the Mugals brought these cards to India in the 16th century. In India the cards took on a circular shape that kind of looked like the game Pog from the 90's.

And moving further west, the Egyptians had a card game known as Mamluk, which arrived sometime during the 12th or 13th centuries. These ornately hand-painted cards were of Islamic origin and named after the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt. A complete 15th century pack contained 4 suites: polo sticks, coins, swords, and cups and three additional court cards, king, vice king, and second vice king.

Gaming scholar David Parlet claimed that, "Egypt's Mamluk entered Southern Europe in the 14th century." Which is just one of many theories. What we do know for sure is that France's King Charles the 6th purchased 3 packs of playing cards in 1396. These cards featured similar imagery to the Mamluk cards with cups, swords, coins, and batons, but also had 22 extra high cards that eventually became tarot cards used by mystics for divination.

And as playing cards traveled to many European countries, their suites evolved with them. The Italians had cups, coins, clubs, (3:00) and swords and the Germans had hearts, bells, acorns, and leaves. But it was the French who created the established suites we know today: hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades. Thanks Thought bubble.

So what about that Joker we usually see in a deck of cards. Well, the US was responsible for that. The card started out as the highest trump card in euchre, and then it was adopted into Poker as a wild card and re-named the Joker.

Poker is one of the most well-known betting games. Poker can trace its ancestry back the 16th century with the Spanish game of primero, nicknamed Poker's Mother. By the17th century, the French had  a popular betting game known as Poque and by the 18th century Germans had a similar game called Pochen. These two games established betting and bluffing mechanics that would become a key component to modern Poker.

French colonists brought Poque to Canada, which then followed immigrants as they traveled down the Mississippi river to New Orleans. It eventually spread throughout the country in gaming parlors on river boats. It was gaining rapidly in popularity and in 1834, (4:00) Jonathan H. Green (different John Green) wrote that this new cheating game was dominating the boats and replacing the popular 3 card Monty games and went on to coin the term 'Poker' in his book on gaming. And the game of Poker continued to spread, becoming a staple in Western saloons. Poker had continued to increase in popularity, spawning versions like 7 Card Stud and Texas Hold 'Em, solidifying its place in the gambling community.

Now, before I reach modern times, we should also briefly cover the origin of trading-card games.

Trading card games are defined as games that are mass produced to be purchased and incorporated within a player's deck for strategic play. The first real trading-card game, or TCG, was the Baseball Card Game, published in 1904 by the Alleganey Card Company. The game consisted of 104 player cards that deck builders could supposedly collect to compete within the game. But because this game was only a prototype and never mass produced, the deck building component was never fully realized.

1993 saw the first modern trading-card game: Magic: The Gathering. Invented by game designer and math professor Dr. Richard Garfield, the (5:00) entire original 2.6 million print run sold out within the first month. Encouraging the publisher "Wizard of the Coast" to print another 7.3 million cards before its official release.

Another 35 million cards would be printed between 1993 and 2007, and as of 2015 there are 13,651 different cards in 11 languages attracting an estimated 20 million players.

In 1996 the Pokemon trading card game was released in Japan by Media factory. Now there were other Pokemon sets before this but this was the first set based on the Pokemon video games and would eventually brought to the US in 2003. As of 2015 there are a total of 125 Pokemon trading card game sets and nearly 15 billion of these game cards have been produced worldwide. There is even an official Pokemon league, where players can compete against others in their community.

And the Pokemon card game is so popular that it switched roles and became the inspiration for several Pokemon card game, video games, including Pokemon TCG online and Pokemon card gb2.  

So what makes the TCG so popular?  Well, Mark Rosewater, the head designer from Magic: The Gathering stated that it was the player's ability to customize and personalize their decks with a near endless supply of cards for success.  He said, "If you compare it to something like Monopoly, every time you play, you're getting a pretty similar experience, but what's neat about Magic is that the game itself keeps changing. It's about exploring and you get to constantly rediscover it."   And people have certainly continued to discover it.  According to 2008 sales data, trading card games earn around 800 million dollars just in North America! 

But it's not just the sales and prevalence of these games that make them significant.  They are also having an impact on our lives.  Human computer interaction assistant Professor Geoff Kaufman from Carnegie Mellon conducted a study in 2015 that used a new research method known as embedded game design in a series of card games.  Kaufman wanted to see if he could decrease gender biases in people by including pro-equality messages in card games without making those messages too blatant.  He found that his games encouraged people to have increased social identity complexity, which is basically a measure of tolerance in groups.  Players tended to think more broadly and inclusively about social groups.  They also had stronger and more assertive responses to multiple kinds of social bias.  Basically, the games encouraged participants to embrace diversity.  

It may not always be as obvious in a game like Pokemon TCG or Yu-Gi-Oh, but the study helps to show the small role card game may play in bringing people together.  Playing cards and their games have continued to have a hold on the public and players.  There are many major card games we didn't even have a chance to talk about, like Blackjack, Gin Rummy, even Uno.  Oh, draw four.  And of course, trading card games like Yu-Gi-Oh TCG and the classic Legend of the Five Rings.  And while you play games with physical cards with people in the same room, one unique aspect of the modern age is the digital card game.  

In Blizzard's Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft, players go online to play and collect TCG cards as they would in real life.  The difference, of course, is that there's nothing physical to own, but the cards come with animations and sounds.  The game is increasing in popularity and shows the merger between modern tech and traditional gaming mechanics.  Regardless, the point is, cards and card games have forever changed gaming, even in the modern age.  They show no signs of stopping and are even responsible for some of our video games.  Remember those century old Hanafuda cards that was made by that company called Nintendo?  Who now has Pokemon?  Who has card games and video games?  That's full circle right there.  Isn't that right, Eevee?  You are Eevee, right?

We'll see you next time.  Thanks for watching.

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