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The History and Evolution of Slot Machines

The gaming industry and technology are changing rapidly, which means that games must meet modern requirements. The modern and high-quality design is the first thing that the player sees and what attracts him. A user-friendly interface, realistic animation, smooth operation – all this is the guarantee of the player’s trust.

Slots: Appearance Evolution

The earliest mention of a cash-win slot machine dates back to 1887 in the United States. In 1888, a Jackpot slot machine using the weight of coins was released there. In 1890, a five-reel slot machine appeared, simulating a card game.

The USA turned out to be an ideal place for the development of the gambling business. In 1893, a San Francisco newspaper wrote: “There are 1,500 five-cent slot machines in the city, and the number is growing.”

The well-known prototype of modern slot machines appeared in 1895. This ingenious machine was invented by 29-year-old mechanic Charles Fey and named it “Liberty Bell”. His submachine gun consisted of three disks arranged one after another with numbers on them.

The maximum winning ($ 5) was paid when the combination “4-11-44” was received. Other winning combinations have been listed in the paytable.

The first “one-armed bandit” was installed in one of the saloons of San Francisco. The success of this slot machine allowed Fey to open his own slot machine factory in 1896.

The replacement of a machine handle with a button was made in 1930 in Jennings’ Jackpot Bell electric slot machine, in which a wheel mechanism was set in motion by an electric motor.

In 1966, the Bally company released a slot machine with an automatic payout system (coins were poured into a special tray).

The triumphant march of slot machines around the world is largely due to the invention of the American company YGT of the progressive win system – “Jackpot”, which allows combining bets and winnings of thousands of slot machines in different halls and cities using a computer network.

The main principles of operation of slot machines, discovered more than a century ago by Charles Fey, have remained practically the same today. Only the technical possibilities of translating these principles into modern machines have changed.

Conditional classification of slot machines

  • by the type of game sensor: mechanical, electromechanical, and electronic
  • by the type of game display: direct (roulette, reel), screen, etc.
  • by audience: casinos, halls, “street”, internet
  • by type of payment: with direct payment, with payment through the cashier (operator)
  • by connectivity: individual, general (roulette), Jackpot, network
  • by the level of difficulty of games: elementary (clarity of the rules of the game without explaining them), complicated, complex (with bonus games, Jackpot, etc.), roulette
  • by groups of games: slots, poker, roulette, others

In the above classification, the word “street” means that the machines belong to a relatively new type of machines installed in shops, on the street, etc.

The abbreviation AWP (amusement with prize or amusement with prizes) is often used to denote this class of machines, although it means machines with limited (small) winnings. As a rule, these machines are cheap, which affects their design.

Most often these are slot machines of the “column” type, made of chipboard without any special decorations, which allows us to call them “firewood”.

Slot machine design

The design serves to achieve the target function of the slot machine: to attract and retain the attention of the players.

The first is achieved by using light and sound effects, the second – by the ease of use, interesting algorithms, and methods of attraction.

A special place in the design of slot machines is connected, first of all, with the fact that the gaming business is a rather expensive means of recreation and entertainment.

Therefore, “sticks of firewood” are rarely placed in the halls, and never in a casino. Although these machines were originally conceived to be installed outside the gaming areas of the casino in order to increase the utilization of the areas.

Factors influencing design

The main factors influencing the design of slot machines and their evolution are as follows: cost, audience, fashion, level of technology and technology (dimensions, materials), level of equipment, and personnel of slot machine manufacturers.

First of all, the design of a slot machine depends on what audience it is intended for: a casino, a hall, or a market.
The influence of the cost price is also supposedly obvious. Those manufacturers who put it in the first place as an objective function produce firewood columns that have no place not only in casinos but even in halls.

The technical level is the least visible part. The main technical advances (game algorithms, protection against external influences, self-testing, regulators, information boards) are hidden inside the slot machine.

Outside, the evolution of controls (from the handle of a “one-armed bandit” to buttons and touch screens) and visualization organs (the quality of mechanical wheels, the size, and quality of images on video screens) is noticeable.

The impact of technology is more visible. Modern information technologies have qualitatively changed the types of games, made it possible to combine together various slot machines (Jackpot, networks).

Technology has, even more, influenced the appearance of slot machines. New materials, methods of processing them, new paints appear.

Another factor affecting the production of equipment for the gambling business is the isolation of the manufacturer from the end-user (player), therefore, many manufacturing firms simultaneously participate in the operation of their slot machines.

Before the start of sales, we check each new slot machine at our gaming points, which allows us to detect and eliminate development errors, correctly assess the player’s reaction in various situations in order to increase the financial return of each slot machine.

Evolution of design

As in all spheres of the human environment (architecture, furniture, clothing …), the evolution of the appearance of slot machines occurs due to the opposition of technical possibility (style) and fashion. But, if in other spheres of life the modern style wins over “retro”, then in the gambling business the progress of the style is not so noticeable.

The retro-style (noble woods, chrome, massive elements) is more familiar to players than elegant small-sized designs dictated by the technical capabilities of micro miniaturization of electronics. And this is all the more noticeable, the higher the level of the gambling establishment.

The state-of-the-art design of slot machines

A competent developer of slot machines for their design uses a systematic approach, that is, proceeds from their target function, taking into account constraints (financial, technical, etc.). The objective functions of the slot machine are simple: to attract the player’s attention and then keep his interest.

It follows from this that slot machines should be bright, beautiful, neat, have light and sound means of attraction. They should be comfortable for the player. Games should be fun and even addictive. The recoil percentage of the machine must be high. The financial capabilities of the gaming machine manufacturer and owner are design constraints, as is the market environment.

An example of the unscientific design of a gaming machine is some “bars” made explicitly with one goal in mind: reducing manufacturer’s costs. This produces firewood of the “grandmother’s chest of drawers” type. The demand for such slot machines falls from the center to the periphery as quality products become available, causing their prices to fall.

The components of modern design: bright appearance, ease of use and maintenance, neatness of internal compartments, thoughtful design of the machine.

Today, more and more manufacturers are using full-color printing and additional dynamic backlighting of the gaming machine panels. So that it will be noticeable to those who have not yet tried it. To be recognizable for regulars. There is a noticeable tendency for the lower level of machines (“columns”, etc.) to be pulled up by their appearance to machines in halls and casinos.

The use of cheap constructive and technological solutions is moving away from the center to the periphery. The body of a modern slot machine is made of metal or on the basis of an aluminum profile. It can be colored using chrome or durable powder paint in various colors and shades. Instead of glass and plexiglass, polyester glass is used, which has increased transparency and strength.

We must not forget about the aesthetic impact on the ear of the player and those around him. Let’s call it audio design: a variety of background music, sounding the acceptance of coins and winnings with different melodies, emphasizing the sound of money falling out by using metal trays.

A modern slot machine, in terms of sound quality, turns into a musical apparatus. In the halls, and especially in outdoor slot machines, we use high-quality stereo playback of CDs.

A little about ergonomics – usability. The slot machine should be user-friendly. The location of the controls and controls on the game panels ensures the convenience of the game: we put the money receiving devices on the right, the buttons under our hands, indicators, and screens at eye level.

Another important element is the rules of the game. There are two ergonomic options: either the clarity of the rules without explaining them (for example, “columns” indicating the size of the winnings directly in the highlighted sector), or the use of a full-fledged user manual, which may be needed even by a sophisticated player. The latter is needed in complex games, which most often have a video screen, which allows you to display help “windows”.

Ergonomic requirements are imposed not only by the players but also by the owners of the machines. Indispensable is the separation of access to the functions and internal compartments of the machine for the operator and the owner, the use of resettable and fiscal counters, the sufficiency and clarity of the controls and controls.

The cost price of such a “column” is several times higher than that of the traditional “grandmother’s dresser”, but it is not a shame to install it not only on the street or in a store, but also in a slot machine room or even in a casino.

The electronic roulette body is filled with electronics only 50%, but it has a design familiar to the halls. At the same time, these machines are equipped with light, color, and sound means of attracting attention, ensure the fulfillment of ergonomic requirements, and are protected from external influences.

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