What is so Great about Solitaire Games

For more than 20 years, since Windows 3.0 operating system, Solitaire games are still going strong and they are still included free on Windows 10. With only Minesweeper running a not-so-close second, at one point, Chris Sells of Microsoft declared Solitaire “the most used Windows application in the world.”

Interestingly, Solitaire isn’t the name of the official card game. Solitaire is actually used to describe a group of card games intended for one player. The official Windows application introduced by Microsoft in 1990—Klondike—is the most well-known and popular solitaire games to date. There are actually many versions and variants of solitaire, with newer versions popping up all the time.

When Chris Cherry originally wrote the code for Windows Solitaire, he included a “Boss Key” that would quickly change the screen to look like an official document so employees wouldn’t get caught playing the game at work. Even before its release, there was an inclination the game would become super addictive. However, Microsoft had Cherry remove the feature from the application before its initial launch.

solitaire games

Interesting Fact: The deck design for Windows Solitaire was created by Susan Kare, famously know for designing the personification of the original Apple Macintosh family of icons.

Solitaire on your PC

As time passed, other solitaire games such as spider solitaire were added to the application. FreeCell Solitaire, created by Paul Alfille, was introduced in 1995 and was an instant hit. Interestingly, despite the crazy popularity of all versions of Windows Solitaire applications, Microsoft didn’t originally include the solitaire package to encourage enjoyable gameplay, there was an ulterior motive.

The actual intention was to help people feel more comfortable operating a computer and their operating system. Many people were still trying to familiarize themselves with operating a personal computer, let alone manipulating a mouse. The game was designed to ease the intimidation and anxiety people experienced trying to learn how to point-and-click. It worked—oh, how it worked.

Before long millions of seemingly average working people were hopelessly addicted to the game. for many years it was almost an epidemic, causing employers around the globe to officially ban the use of the application during work hours. Although the “Boss Key” was non-existent, most people became quite adept at hiding (and getting away with) their gameplay from supervisors.

In a 1998 Time magazine interview, according to Clifford Stoll, “[Solitaire] is seen as the single biggest threat to office productivity facing this planet’s workers.” Granted, the craze over Solitaire has slacked over the years, but there are still millions of people staying up into the wee hours playing game upon game until their eyes a blood red and the world is in a haze.

There is good news, however. In a 2003 study, the University of Utrecht found that, is rationed properly, solitaire could actually help increase productivity. It served much like a coffee or cigarette break, and most who were permitted, opposed to those banned, to play Solitaire at work were happier about their jobs and were more productive overall.

Little did Microsoft know just how popular their Solitaire game would become world-wide. Amazingly, even with some pretty stiff competition from hundreds of new, also highly addictive, online and downloadable games featured on trendy websites across the internet, Solitaire is still the reigning champion.

Sadly, however, Solitaire is starting to see a decline in popularity, and may very soon find its long-standing boast as the most prevalent video game of all time coming to an end. People are finding more challenging ways to waste time during lulls throughout their workday and lonely evenings at home.

Venues like Google Play and Steam offer video game seekers thousands of paid and free games they can now choose to waste time playing instead of Solitaire. That has opened the door to many game companies to create their own versions of the game—even Vegas-style versions…table, group, and even electronic slot machines are now an option.

Solitaire tournaments are nothing new to the scene, but since the explosion of Facebook, competitions are gaining distinction on the video game food chain. Solitaire is not just for bored office workers, lonely singles, or the elderly—today even millenniums are riding the solitaire train. Speed solitaire is all the rage among competitors, while “last man standing” is still the tried and true form of tournament play.

Thanks to the ever-expanding connection the internet has brought the world, people never have to leave the comfort of their homes to play—hence, the growing interest in competitive Solitaire. Some versions of Solitaire even have entire websites dedicated to tournament play, such as FreeCell.net.

Interesting Fact: The first digital version of a solitaire was introduced in 1979 for the University of Illinois’ computer network. More interestingly, it was not Klondike—it was FreeCell by Paul Alfille making history.

Two Player Solitaire

Solitaire for two? That’s right—there is a form of the game intended for two people to play simultaneously. Known as Double Solitaire or, formally, Double Klondike, the deck is split evenly between two players, giving each a foundation pile. Four cards are laid face up in the middle to form the tableau. Each take turns playing cards from their foundation onto the tableau or opponent’s stock pile. Players compete to be the first to get rid of all their cards, foundation and stock piles.

To date Double Klondike is the only version of solitaire played by two. It isn’t extremely well-known among hard-core Solitaire players, but enjoyed by millions just the same. It is the only know solitaire designed for more than one player, not ironically, since Solitaire means “singular”.

People who enjoy Double Klondike are usually people who fancy all sorts of two-player card games, whereas Solitaire is generally played by the bored, the lonely, or those simply looking to pass some spare time.

Regardless of the growing video game genre, Solitaire games will always remain a staple video, and physical card game among millions of people around the world.