Here is a fun game to play. Connect with the internet, in whatever means suits your fancy. Think of one of your favorite TV shows, movies, art pieces, time period, musician, game show, board game. Type that in the search engine and after it type “slot machine.”
For example: “Breaking Bad slot machine”
Search results: Heisenberg Chronicles slot machines on eBay Breaking Bad Slot Machines – YouTube – Breaking Bad Slot Machine. Features music and voice clips from the show, backlit reels, Saul Goodman …
Let’s try it again.
Search: “Jurassic Park slot machine”
Results: Jurassic Park” Slot Machine from IGT –YouTube, G2E Bringing A Whole Lotta New Slot Machine Themes You Already Know
If you click on the G2E article, you will be directed to a site called Vegaschatter.com. The article goes over new slot machine themes which hit the big casino convention this year – Jurassic Park, Bridesmaids, Walking Dead, and of course, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – and has either links to YouTube videos of the slots in actions or Microsoft Paint renditions of the slot machines.
The crude computerized sketches of the slot machine, though, are enough to set off the gambling itch. Each slot machine represents a possibility of hitting a jackpot, of making money – magic, free money! In addition to the hope of winning against all odds each slot machine drawing conjures up, it reminds me of my time working as a slot attendant, the time when I first contemplated the creation of a slot machine – from the inception of the theme to the presentation on the casino floor.
I became a slot attendant because I had made a series of life choices which ended with me in need of home and job. I had applied to several jobs around Northern New Mexico, at times not even knowing which position I was interviewing for, but I was first hired as a slot attendant. My job was to clean the casino floor, fill the drink cart up with sodas and take it for a tumultuous spin, fix minor errors with slot machines, and hand-deliver the big jackpot wins. Every night, from 5:30 to midnight or 1 a.m., I spent amongst the sounds of real and digital spinning reels, with dings and flashing bonus rounds. Toward the end of my three months as a slot attendant, I’d wander the rows of slot machines in a trance-like state, distracted by the flashing screens, and for the first time, I’d read the slot’s names: Sex in the City, Wheel of Fortune, Kitty Glitter. Renoir Riches had paintings of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, his “Mademoiselle Irene Cahren D’Anvers,” “Young Woman in a Straw Hat,” “Little Girl with a Watering Can,” “Self Portrait.” And they’re all on tumbling reels – whenever paintings line up on a spin, they shatter into gold dust, the reels fall down, intertwining Tetris with slots. Renoir Riches is a slot machine by IGT, International Gaming Technology, a company specializing in slot machine gaming both on casino floors and on-line. Their annual revenue is around $2 billion. And Renoir, it turns out, is not the only well-known painter IGT has converted into a slot machine.
“[We have] DaVinci Diamonds, which is available in land-based (casinos) as well as on social and mobile. It’s one of our most popular games and features the works of DaVinci,” IGT Public Relations Representative Shanna Sabbet says. DaVinci Diamonds may be recognized on the casino floor by an image of the Mona Lisa next to diamonds. How did this transition take place? Of admiring the beauty of the Mona Lisa to hoping for five in a line to hit a jackpot? Richard Valiquette is the chief creative officer at IGT, and he says for his team of game designers, the world is there for the taking of all ideas and reapplying them in the shape of a slot machine. “We actually take inspiration from anywhere,” Valiquette says. “We look for themes that resonate with people. Art is inspirational for so many people and creates a personal connection. Images of older art, such as Renoir and DaVinci, are also in the public domain, as well as the Bible for games like Noah’s Ark slots. So for these slot machines, replicating images of art work for the game is easy.
However, the creation of a game goes beyond artwork. Sounds, bonus rounds, free spin activations must all be thought out in an effort to ensure player engagement. “Bonus rounds are a great way to add another layer,” Valiquette says. Within his office of creative design for gaming, Valiquette says he tries to add as much fun, new and interesting features to each game, not only in the casino, but in every platform the game is offered. Recreating the “in the casino” experience is brought up throughout the interview by Valiquette and Sabbet. “We want a player to be able to go online and have the exact same experience as if they were in a casino,” Sabbet says. IGT offers the opportunity to hit slots through apps, online gaming casinos, or, if online gambling isn’t legal in your state, through Facebook sans monetary investment. Valiquette adds, “Online there is only one screen, which is a challenge.”
This confinement – as opposed to the now two to three dedicated screens to certain slots along with a chair with surround sound stereo that shakes during a bonus round – incites creativity in the game designers, Valiquette says. Shaper imagery may be added or different screen manipulations during a bonus round. “Every platform is unique.” For the more pop culture slots, those involving the name and scenes from major motion pictures and favorite TV shows, he says the process is lengthier and involves legal teams. “Generally, there is a lot of back and forth.” And most of the time, he adds, the marketing team from the movie comes to IGT and requests a slot machine. For all cases, besides the sound clips and screen shots, Valiquette says all the art is created by IGT.
“Our team is dedicated to make sure our games are current and entertaining. We are constantly doing research. One of my favorite things about my job is I work with one of the most creative teams and people. Some of the most creative and bright minds are on the team, and they are always finding new way to push the boundaries of gaming and finding meaningful ways to resonate with our player base.”
According to Valiquette, human ingenuity is the pulse behind each flashing light, each symphony of dings and dongs produced by the casino floor’s labyrinth of slot machines. As I wandered the labyrinth in the last days as a slot attendant, perhaps my trance-state was induced by being overwhelmed by the boundless depths of the human mind manifested in a machine ultimately designed to make a company a large profit. “We are constantly researching what’s new and what’s innovative,” Valiquette says.
And I couldn’t disagree with Riachard Valiquette.
From slot machines based on fine art to Bible characters to Judge Judy, IGT dedicates itself to bringing each player into the gaming experience. And for those aimlessly walking, like I was at my 3-month gig, the games bring us easily into that labyrinth.