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All For One, One For All

 

Community-style slot machines turn players into neighbors, encouraging cooperation (and sometimes competition)

 

As they travel around the Monopoly board, players take turns selecting game cards. Pick a 20-credit card, and you’ll probably hear a collective groan from your community. Pick one for 500 credits, and you’re a hero.

“Community-style slot machines”–it has a kind of a down-home ring, doesn’t it? The community pulling together, helping a neighbor out….and in this case, perhaps passing “Go” together and collecting 200 credits.

Pulling together, however, isn’t the only thing communities are known for. Sometimes neighbors are competitive, having that urge to keep up with the Joneses. Sometimes they just happen to occupy nearby spaces; they may be neighbors, but the most interaction they have with each other is the occasional nod and a grunt.

And so it goes with community-style slot machines. Sometimes players win and celebrate together. Sometimes they’re competing for a piece of the pie. And sometimes they’re just watching and waiting for their moment in the sun.

No community, and no slot machine, can be all things to all people. And you have a choice. There’s a strategy to moving into  a slot community; a neighborhood “comparison shop,” if you will. You can weigh the game features, size up the amenities, and pick the style of play that matches your desires.

Shared Facilities

In your community, the park, the schools and the library may belong to everyone, but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to use them all at once.

With their pioneering community game  Wheel of Fortune Super Spin, manufacturer IGT utilized this concept. Essentially, when the game goes into bonus mode, the game focuses on the achievement of an individual while the others look on. The enormous wheel at the center of the game “belongs” to all nine players who sit around it, but they don’t all go to the bonus round for one big community spin. It’s possible for two or more players to win spins of the wheel at about the same time, and get in on the same spin, but much of the time it’ll be a single player on the wheel while the community watches.

That’s also how A.C. Coin likes to structure its community games. The game Empire plays off the classic single-player Empire slot machine, which features a top box with a giant ape climbing the Empire State building. The higher the climb, the bigger the bonus. The community version of Empire has six players seated around a central column, and within the column is a six-sided Empire State building. You have your own ape and tower; I have my own ape and tower; and everyone else has their own apes and towers. We can go to the bonus event separately..

Or take Phat Cats, which is part of A.C. Coin’s Double Play Community Series. This is a community of two, with a pair of IGT five-reel Double Sizzling 7s slot machines sitting side-by-side as the base game. Overhead is a big screen with animations of fun cartoon cat characters on cascading reels. As you get paid on matching characters, symbols are eliminated and the rest drop into place to form new combinations.  When the bonus hits, one player participates while his neighbor watches–cheering the bonus player on, or perhaps feeling a little envious and hoping to keep up with the Joneses.

A Team Effort

Sometimes everyone in the community has to pull together. That’s how it worked in Monopoly Big Event, which in 2006 kicked off WMS Gaming’s Community Gaming line. In this exciting game, players take a trip around a giant Monopoly board together, all rooting for the same results. If one lands on Boardwalk, all land on Boardwalk. (And who doesn’t want big property values for their community?)
It was a nice start to the concept of winning together, but WMS has added plenty of community intrigue since then. Monopoly Big Money Spin Bigger Event, which WMS calls its first “Collaborative Gaming” slot, requires players to make decisions that affect each other’s winnings. It features multiple bonus events, including a “Play the Board” round that incorporates that long-time favorite feature — a trip around  the Monopoly board.

As they travel around the Monopoly board, players take turns dragging the dice on their screen and letting ’em fly. In another event, the twin 52-inch screens over the bank of machines display a selection of game cards face down. Players take turns selecting game cards. Pick a 20-credit card, and you’ll probably hear a collective groan from your community. Pick one for 500 credits, and you’re a hero.
Getting Competitive

Being part of the community can mean pulling together for common goals, like landing on Boardwalk. But in any community, there will be moments of competition–when my Little Leaguer is trying to beat your Little Leaguer, or when Sam’s putting for 19th hole bragging rights over Larry.

The competitive side of Community Gaming is the showpiece of WMS’ Reel ’Em In: Compete to Win. The three shared bonus events are all competitions, such as the Fishing Contest. Each fish is assigned a point value, and when you see a big-value fish swim onto the twin 52-inch plasma screens overhead, the anticipation builds as players wonder if it’ll bite–and whose fisherman will reel it in. Everybody wins bonus credits for the 3-to-6 fish they reel in, but the player with the most points at the end of the round not only wins the accumulated credits, but gets an extra bonus reward for winning the derby.

Or try the Boat Race, where each player hooks a fish and their boats race across the screens. The first fisherman to tow a fish across the finish line wins the race, and the biggest prize. All other boats then stop to reel in smaller fish.

Aruze’s Paradise Fishing is another competitive fishing derby. For starters, the game looks gorgeous, with six machines under three 60-inch high definition LCD games showing scenes from the deep sea or coral reefs. The “hook” here is the controller, which uses Aruze’s Reel Feel technology. Grab hold, and raise or lower your worm. When a that marlin strikes, you can literally feel it! The fish struggles and fights while you try to land it, and sometimes it gets away.

IGT also takes the competitive route in recent titles such as The Dark Knight. As part of the Center Stage line, which has huge 108-inch screens hanging over the banks of machines, The Dark Knight has the natural element of competition between Batman and the Joker. Perhaps you’ll play as Batman, careening through the streets of Gotham City on his Batcycle, chasing the Joker in his truck (which bears the message “Slaughter is the best medicine”). Drive through targets for bonuses, earn extra credits and checkpoints, and see who’s first to the finish for credits–and community bragging rights.

Konami, meanwhile, goes competitive in “a day at the races” fashion with its  community-style Beat the Field. This is a four-level mystery progressive, available in both reel stepper and video formats. The main bonus event is a horse racing “run for the roses,” with players allocated horses based on bet level. The winner in each race brings a progressive jackpot, while other players win consolation credits. Everyone wins something together, which is always good for boosting community spirit.

Close-Knit Communities

All of this playing together, and competing together, is all well and good…but what if you prefer a less crowded experience, and just want to kick back and do your own thing?

Bally Technologies caters to a community of two with DualVision. It comes with a bench wide enough for two, and two sets of video reels on the wide, Cine-Vision style screen. There’s just one bill validator, though. Spouses, friends or significant others play from the same pool of credits, though they can wager different amounts on each spin. Game play is independent; each player gets his or her own results. But when one triggers a bonus, both play a bonus round. Should both trigger a bonus at the same time, winnings are doubled.

Do these games offer something for everyone? It sure seems that way. It takes all kinds of folks to make up a community, and these days it takes all kinds of community games to make up a slot floor.

  All For One, One For All – Slot.

 

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