In 1895 Charles Fey invented the first slot machine, The Liberty Bell. No doubt he would be surprised to see the evolution of his invention and the game’s popularity.
For a great deal of their existence slot machines were looked upon with a bit of derision by “serious gamblers.” The stereotypical image of a slot player was that of a solitary player, typically female, that sat at the machine quietly playing in search of a relatively small jackpot.
That image began to change dramatically in 1975 with Walt Farley’s invention of the Fortune Coin video slot game. Players at first were a bit skeptical of the new technology. However International Game Technology, IGT, saw the potential and purchased Farley’s company the next year. Today IGT is one of the largest video slot game companies in the world.
Walk into any casino in the world and you will see an amazing array of video slots. The game themes include current and classic television programmes and films, super heroes, board games, and creative original games. Just as varied as the game selection is the type of players you will see playing the games. According to a University of Las Vegas dissertation the modern slot player is almost equally likely to be male as female, is college educated, and a home owner.
The reason behind the popularity
Part of the reason for the popularity of video slots lies in the variety of games available. The features of the games are definitely something that Charles Fey would never have imagined.
One of the factors that greatly contribute to the popularity of video slots is the advances in mobile technology. Video slot games consistently rank as one of the most popular apps for smart phones and tablets. Online casinos allow players to play video slots with no download. The developers behind the online and mobile games are many of the same as those developing games for land-based casinos. This makes the games familiar to players regardless of whether they are playing at their local casino or on their laptop, smartphone, or tablet.
The graphics and sound are amazing. Video slots include animated reels, high-definition video clips, and theatre quality sound.
The game play choices are incredibly varied. The old days of having a maximum of three pay-lines is long gone. Today’s video slot can have more than 3,000 pay-lines. Bonus spins, payout multipliers, and free spins (which can sometimes number in the hundreds) are a staple. The games also take inspiration from the video game model where games within the game unlock new levels, bonuses, and features as players complete challenges and puzzles.
One of the main appeals of slot machines has always been the game’s fantasy aspect. No other casino game offers the player the change to win such a huge amount based on such a small wager. This is especially true with video slots. Stand-alone machines often provide jackpots that are tens of thousands of times the amount of the bet. Progressive jackpot games are offered on networks of games that can include machines in that particular casino, throughout the city, or in the case of online casinos, across the world. These machines offer jackpots of life changing proportions that can total tens of millions of dollars.
Slot play is no longer necessarily a solitary experience. The social aspect of many casino games, especially craps and blackjack, is one of major reasons behind their popularity. Video slots often have banks of games which are connected and have players complete challenges and compete as a team, with a win for one player being shared among all of the players.
The future of video slots
Each year one of the major highlights of the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas is the introduction of the new video slot games. The graphics and sound of the game continues to improve, with more 3D games and surround sound games available. One of the biggest changes is in what developers are calling “skill-based” video slots which add an entirely new dimension to the video slot experience.
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