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The Next Generation of Slot Machines

24 October 2000

The slot machine revolution continues to rage at casinos across the United States. You've probably observed it yourself. Traditional 3-reel slot games are being moved out, while glitzy video theme games with bonus features, enhanced stereo sound effects, and dazzling graphics are being moved in.

Don't be too worried if you're a fan of such traditional favorites as Double Diamond and Red, White, & Blue Sevens. They're not going the way of the bars, lemons, and oranges just yet. But the reality of the situation is that the research and development think tanks of slot machine manufacturers are making an appeal to "Generation X".

Similar revolutions have taken place in other areas of the entertainment industry. Board games are still popular with children and adults, but today they share the toy store spotlight with video game technology. Working with video terminals isn't new for an entire generation. They've never known a world without them!

So it is with slot machines. Traditional reel game formats offer too much of a one dimensional, "pull tab" experience to people in their 20s and 30s who are used to being bombarded with sensory technology. They want to be stimulated with sights, sounds, and colors, while also being given the perception of decision making.

The new slots are doing just that, particularly the "games for the new millennium" introduced by International Game Technology. They include such theme game formats as "I Dream of Jeannie", "Richard Petty Driving Experience", "The Addams Family", "The Pink Panther", and "The Munsters".

All of them share common characteristics: They are visually attractive, they offer a multi-dimensional and interactive playing experience, and the themes capitalize on characters that have been a part of baby boomer's lives from childhood into middle age.

The person primarily responsible for IGT's aggressive move into this new generation of slot machine play is Joe Kaminkow, the company's vice-president of engineering and design. "Cool Joe", as he is known among his colleagues, joined IGT in January 1999 after 13 years in a similar capacity with suburban Chicago based Sega Pinball.

Wonder where Joe's "cool" ideas for slot machine games originated? Consider the fact that while with Sega he is credited with having designed no less than 75 popular coin-operated games, including Harley-Davidson, The X-Files, Star Wars, Michael Jordan, Jurassic Park, Playboy, Titanic, Batman, Baywatch, and South Park. You've no doubt seen or even played some of them in amusement centers and arcades.

IGT knew an imaginative and creative individual when they saw one. They wooed him over to put his talents to work on developing a line of slot machines that has taken the gaming industry by storm and is well on its way to revolutionizing slot machine play, giving it the broadest appeal among gaming enthusiasts it has ever enjoyed.

"The combination of amusement game features and gaming machine technology is taking conventional machine play to a new level," Kaminkow said. "We're making creative use of enhanced sound and graphics, and incorporating multi-level bonuses as well as genuine entertainment value.

"We strive to build all the fun we can into every game from every angle, stimulating the senses with sights, sounds, unexpected bonuses, and sensory treats," Kaminkow added.

Does this mean that IGT's original "Golden Goose", the traditional 3-reel game formats that year after year are among the most popular games on casino floors across the united States, is destined to be phased out?

"By no means," Kaminkow responded. "I believe we are still a generation or two away from seeing any major changes. We realize we still have a large base of people dedicated to our traditional games and we will continue to be responsive to them. More than half of our research and development efforts remain geared toward the traditional line."

Next Week: My conversation with Joe Kaminkow continues as we take a closer look at IGT's new generation of slot machines.


For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:

Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp