How did Jumanji Become Such a Cultural Phenomenon?

The Jumanji franchise has been going since 1991 and has raked in over $2 billion at the global box office. It all stemmed from a picture book of the same name released in 1981. At the time, illustrator Chris Van Allsburg would have found it hard to envisage that his fantasy offering would go on to have such an enduring impact on popular culture.

The recent reboots of Joe Johnston’s movie have brought Jumanji back into the forefront of the entertainment industry, and there is now a plethora of related media associated with the magical board game. The timeless narrative means that there’s endless potential for the Jumanji series: from reboots to spin-offs, prequels and sequels, it’s perhaps no surprise that Jumanji has become a cultural phenomenon.

Jumanji’s Influence on the Gaming Industry Has Been Impressive

Jumanji was never based on a real game, but it led to a vast number of titles since its release. There are now countless games on various platforms for fans of the series to enjoy. Many of these dropped recently after the series was rebooted in 2017. For instance, console gamers can play Jumanji: The Video Game, which allows them to explore the world from the new films. On mobile, there’s Jumanji: The Mobile Game, which was released alongside the blockbuster Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

One of the greatest indicators of a franchise’s popularity in 2022 is whether it has managed to permeate the online slots market, which is massively saturated with titles inspired by Hollywood movies and TV shows. Tellingly, one of the standout games at online casinos is Jumanji from NetEnt, which is often listed in the most prominent places on casino pages.

Developers in the industry frequently turn to these sources for inspiration because they know how powerful familiarity can be to new players. Fans of particular franchises will be eager to try something if there’s an affiliation to something they enjoy in another medium, e.g. the cinema.

Enchanted Board Game Seemed Like a Realistic Concept

Although it was highly fantastical in its subject matter, the look and feel of the board game in the original Jumanji was incredibly realistic. It was relatable to anyone who’d picked up a board game in their life, with the track, dice, and pieces all familiar to avid fans of games like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit. The only aspect that wasn’t so plausible was the fact that the pieces moved on their own. Oh, and the way in which moves in the game caused wild animals to burst onto the scene…

The recent reboots have found a way to relate to modern audiences as well. In Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and The Next Level in 2017 and 2019 respectively, the characters were sucked into a Jumanji video game. It was a retro offering played on a 1990s-style console, meaning that it was understandable for both younger and older viewers.

Augmented Reality Could Make a Real Jumanji Game Possible

Milton Bradley Company released Jumanji: The Board Game in 1995, an offering inspired by the 1991 picture. It was packed full of riddles and danger cards, and it proved extremely popular. So much so that the game received a contemporary update in 2017 where some of the messages were changed. Despite being enjoyable, the creators could hardly involve any of the magical elements in the picture.

This is something that could potentially be achieved with augmented reality, however. Certain AR games have already shown the applications of this technology, where digital elements are superimposed on everyday surroundings. Some of the leading offerings to have included it are Pokémon Go, The Walking Dead: Our World, and Jurassic World Alive. Players get to see the monsters, zombies, and dinosaurs through their mobile screens as if they are there in the room with them.

When AR takes off in the next few years, glasses that integrate the technology could become ubiquitous. At this point, it would be reasonable to assume that some board games with AR elements will come about. Perhaps players will be able to don AR glasses and play a game of Jumanji, complete with stampedes, monsoons, and all the aspects that made the original film so memorable.

It’s amazing that a film, which was never based on an actual game, managed to go on to inspire such a vast number of games and related media. Jumanji has been a cultural phenomenon, and it will continue to stay at the forefront of mainstream culture for many years to come. Perhaps when AR takes off, players will be treated to the most realistic Jumanji offering yet.