Back in the 1970s and 80s, sci-fi was treated as a fringe interest in the entertainment sector. Though projects like Star Wars and Star Trek had extensive and dedicated fanbases, they weren’t nearly as developed as they are today. Today, few would argue that sci-fi (and fantasy) have gone mainstream.
While some might argue that this has led to a proliferation of bastardized sci-fi projects, from John Romero’s Daikatana to Bicentennial Man, others would say that modern sci-fi has evolved positively. Today, sci-fi is a common topic for some of the world’s most popular creators. Just look at James Cameron’s recent release for proof.
But sci-fi hasn’t just become a hot topic for creators. Because it’s become ingrained in mainstream media, it’s now a popular theme. That means it doesn’t have to be the primary subject of a creative work to add a fresh spin to it. In fact, some of the coolest sci-fi-inspired projects don’t rely on it as a central theme—instead, it shines in a supporting role.
Poker: Table Games in Futuristic Worlds
When it comes to online poker, PokerStars is one of the biggest brands in the industry. Most people associate the group with online poker tournaments of all stripes, which has made it a popular option for competitive players. However, PokerStars also offers VR play.â¯
And rather than just sitting around a poker table, VR players can choose from a few different settings, from futuristic sci-fi cities to undersea escapes. For users who normally sit at boring virtual or real-life tables, this sci-fi twist provides a brand-new playing experience—and it’s proved to be a hit with players.
Assassin’s Creed: Sci-Fi Meets History
If you’re even a casual gamer, you’ve probably heard of the action-adventure series Assassin’s Creed. The franchise has been around for almost two decades and is considered one of the best in the gaming industry thanks to its premise. The premise is set in the present, during which time assassins link up with a machine that sends them into the past.
Once they’re situated in the past, characters are charged with turning the tide in real-life historical events. It combines elements of both historical adventure and sci-fi—but it’s that sci-fi element that connects Assassin’s Creed to the modern day and, therefore, gamers who play it.
Little Shop of Horrors: Horror-Musical-Sci-Fi-Comedy
Back in 1960, the genre of sci-fi was still evolving. One of the most unforgettable sci-fi crossover hits was Little Shop of Horrors, which helped steer sci-fi and all of its various use cases. Here, viewers were treated to a horror-musical-sci-fi adventure… which was also a comedy.
The original film was inspired by 1906’s ‘The Flowering of the Strange Orchid’ by HG Wells, one of the fathers of sci-fi. That original story inspired 1932’s ‘Green Thoughts’ which led to the release of 1956’s ‘The Reluctant Orchid’, which, in turn, left its imprint on the film. Here, we see some of the first sci-fi roots taking shape in Hollywood, just with a bit of musical menagerie and laughs tacked on.
Moving forward from this 1960 release and its 1986 star-studded re-release, Little Shop of Horrors helped bridge the genres of sci-fi and horror. In fact, horror has been one of the most successful crossover genres for sci-fi, which includes projects like Alien, Resident Evil, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Special Mention: Sci-Fi Meets Fast Food
Not all sci-fi-inspired projects have to be focused on games or film. The more popular a theme becomes in the mainstream, the more applications it sees with other brands. One of the biggest fans of the sci-fi genre and Hollywood hits are Happy Meals and other branded meals at major fast-food chains.
A lot of this collaboration chalks up to marketing. After all, seeing a familiar character with every meal helps spread the message about a new release. However, it’s still interesting that chains like McDonald’s and Burger King include figurines and other collectibles that are tied to hits like Star Wars, or projects like Clockwork Orange and Blade Runner.