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Doctor Who In The Gaming Industry
By Doctor Who Online

Doctor Who continues to astound and amaze with its popularity. Fifty six years after the first episodes graced our tv sets, the show is now Britain’s longest running sci-fi television show and the 8th most famous programme on UK television - one of only five fictional series to make the top 30. Episodes have been sold worldwide, with fan bases all over the world tuning in every week to catch up on the Doctor’s latest adventures. The 50th anniversary episode set a Guinness World Record back in 2013 when it was simultaneously broadcast in 94 countries and 1,500 cinemas, much to the delight of Whovians everywhere.

Obviously, with a brand this popular, everyone wants a slice of the action. Doctor Who merchandise is everywhere, from clothing to homeware, novelty items and even a cuddly Adipose. And the digital market has been busy too, with Doctor Who games quickly gaining in popularity. Let’s take a quick tour through some of those currently available and see just what the wider Whoniverse has to offer.

Unsurprisingly, the widest variety of games and activities are to be found on the BBC’s official Doctor Who website. There are quizzes to accompany certain episodes, as well as spot the difference puzzles and printable craft activities - these are obviously aimed more towards the younger fan. Also for young fans is a coding game that lets wannabe villains program their own dalek. Eager to take advantage of new developments in technology, the website also features a VR game where players can navigate a flying TARDIS through the time vortex.

It seems that Doctor Who lends itself well to the VR style, with not one but two new VR releases this year alone, both in the Oculus Store and Vive Port. The first, entitled Doctor Who: The Runaway, is a short 13 minute cartoonish adventure, following Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor as she travels across the galaxy to return a lost alien to its home planet. But it’s the second of 2019’s releases that fans are most excited about.

Attendees at San Diego Comic-Con were treated to a preview trailer of Doctor Who: The Edge of Time, a full-length VR game that will finally be released in September 2019. The developers have kept the story’s details a closely guarded secret, but they have revealed that players will wield their own sonic screwdriver as they battle enemies and solve puzzles in their search for the missing Doctor. The graphics look amazing and the prospect of being dropped straight into the Doctor’s world is very exciting. I can only imagine how terrifying it will be to come up against a Fallen Angel that you can reach out and almost touch.

So far, Doctor Who gamers have had to endure a 30 year run of disappointing games and tie-ins. From fuzzy platforms games to licensed copies of famous match-3 and maze games, and lacklustre adventure games, nothing game designers have brought out has seemed to capture the energy, excitement and magic of the Doctor’s world. A world brimming with possibilities, so much so that it’s hard to believe there hadn’t yet been a successful game to add to the franchise.

The world of Doctor Who is so rich and full of detail that it can lend itself to almost any situation. Yet the BBC seems very unadventurous in the ways it uses the brand, and even now, sticking to the VR arena, seems a limiting choice. While many enjoy VR games, the market is still in its infancy. Many gamers don’t view the expensive hardware as a necessary purchase and others are holding back until there are more high quality games available. Will The Edge of Time be the game they buy the system for? Unless they are die-hard Who fans, probably not.

But fans love to play games based on characters and stories that they love. So while many Whovians might be left cursing that The Edge of Time doesn’t have a standard console release, there are very few alternatives to consoles themselves with. And this could be where the BBC is missing a trick. If they were willing to license the brand for copycat app games like Doctor Who Infinity, why not consider licensing the game for an online slot?

Online slot machines are growing in popularity, especially amongst younger adults under 30 – one of the main fan groups of Doctor Who. With so many online slots on the market nowadays, it can be daunting for a new player, faced with a page of choices, to know where to start. But having a helping hand with some introductory codes will certainly help put a smile on the face. As an extra bonus, you can click here for some more codes. :)

Because there is a high demand, online slots have branched out to include extra features in order to appeal to players. One of these features that would work well for Doctor Who is the unlockable mini game. This would allow players to win bonuses by playing a mini adventure – and there are so many different games you could design. Whether it’s a Cyberman shoot-em-um, a race to collect escaping adipose, or escaping from the encroaching Vashta Nerada in a maze, a mini game is sure to appeal to fans.

With so many series and stories to choose from, you could even offer customisable skins so that players could choose the designs they want to see on the reels. This way, only one engine would need to be designed, and then just like changing the wallpaper in the TARDIS, everyone who plays can choose their favourite doctor to spin. And personally, I’d love to see a Captain Jack-pot, where a screen of smiling John Barrowmans gleefully announces that you’ve won!

With a brand as popular and powerful as Doctor Who, there are so many opportunities for tie-ins that would delight the fans. Let’s hope the BBC starts to move into the digital sphere and gives us some proper games to play soon, because there is definitely a demand for it.

© Copyright Doctor Who Online, 2019.
Page Updated: 29/10/2019

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