It’s hard to believe it but the slots we all enjoy today had their origins more than a century ago when people first discovered the thrill of popping a coin in to a machine, pulling the handle and hoping for the princely jackpot of 50 cents – admitted worth rather more then than it is today.
The very first slot was designed by a young electrical engineer called Charles Fey in California in 1895 and was called the Liberty Bell. The machine was made from cast iron and when you did hit the jackpot a bell sounded to hail your win. It was an immediate success and demand was suddenly so great that Fey gave up his job with the state electric company to start full-time production.
Jumping forward 121 years to thevamped up and immersive online slots we play online today and, while the basic principle may be the same – a random collection of symbols come up and you either win money or you don’t – the games themselves are as different as a Model T Ford is to a super-sophisticated electric car.
We’ve the sudden and huge popularity of online gaming to thank for this incredible evolution that has led to the slots of today. With a real hunger amongst players for more exciting and immersive experiences it’s led to slots designers having to raise their game on a very frequent basis.
Luckily, this has also coincided with a period of unprecedented technological advancement providing the tools they need to continually develop and refine the online slots experience. For example there is the software to create many more winning combinations than the traditional old three or four reel electro-mechanical machine could ever manage. The fact that the online slot is a video machine also means that everything from animation to special effects can be incorporated too.
So now devising new slots games is treated in very much the same way as video games are developed. Big teams collaborate to create games with particular players in mind and even include narrative themes with in them, not to mention different levels that players can try to conquer.
There has also been the emergence of games designed to tap into a particular interest or pastime. For example around big sporting events like the Olympics or the football World Cup a rash of sports-related games will always appear. Similarly the release of a big film will often not just include a whole raft of merchandise but an accompanying slots game too – one just has to look at the many games that tie in with the Marvel comics franchise to see this in action.
With the sudden explosion of virtual reality technology many think that this will be the next leap forward for online slots to take – so you may soon not just be playing a game, you could well become a character who’s actively participating in it.
So who knows what Charles Fey would make of what his simple invention has evolved into, or of the huge jackpots that can be won? One thing’s for sure though, he’d certainly enjoy the games.
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