In our continuing coverage of gambling and casino technology, we take a look at the evolution of slot games.
Slot games have changed so much over the years and come so far that it could be argued that they have evolved more than any other type of game. Even Charles Darwin would be impressed with the way that the hand-operated clunky machines of the late 1800s have led to the advanced online slot games of today. But what about console games you say? Yes, consoles have come a long way, but the kinds of games played on them have also changed over the years. Slot games still stick to a reel format, which is exactly the same as The Liberty Bell in 1895. In terms of a singular game’s evolution, there is no comparison.
The first slot machine ever made was The Liberty Bell by Charles Fey, an American car mechanic. It featured three reels that were operated by a lever at the side, hence the nickname “one-armed bandit.” The idea was simple, players had to spin the reels and hope for matching fruit symbols. Various symbols such as cherries and lemons paid out different values. A lot of the modern slots of today still feature these fruit symbols as a tribute to the game that started it all, whereas others have taken on themes from popular culture. The slots at Mr Green, for instance, range from Batman, Joker, and other cartoon themes, to classic characters like Jekyll and Hyde, and Sherlock Holmes.
But before they got to this stage in their progression there were a number of significant developments on the slot timeline. The one-armed bandit format was a mainstay for many years, and it wasn’t until technology advanced a lot further before slots could enter the next stage in their evolution. It was during the 1960s that the first electromechanical gambling game came about, which was called 21 and built by Nevada Electronic. This led to electronic dice, horse racing, and poker games, but it wasn’t until 1975 that the first electronic slot machine was developed by the Fortune Coin Company.
The major change at this point was that in most machines the levers were replaced with buttons. The use of computerisation also brought about predetermined outcomes that were based on probability. Machines were more reliable because they had to pay out at a win percentage that was displayed. The fruit machines gained even more popularity when they began to show up in most pubs, and became more advanced with various features and mini-games involved. The machines also had different themes at this point, such as Pots of Gold and TV shows like Bullseye.
The final and most recent stage in the evolution was for slots to be represented online, with all the advanced side games and video features that players enjoy today. But after seeing how far they have come since Fey’s early invention, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them change even more in the near future. There will almost certainly be some developments in virtual reality (VR), with the next stage in the progression perhaps involving more engaging and skill-based side games.