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HIGH -TECH SLOTS

We’re entering another dimension

By Frank Legato

 

OK, things are getting scary around here.

As you found in last month’s cover story (New Slots 2017), some of the technology coming out of the slot manufacturers this year is mind-boggling. Case in point: lGT’s got something called “TRUE 4D.”

IGT has a bunch of TRUE 3D games out there, which are scary in themselves, because the 3-D effect is uncanny. You’re reaching out to grab coins in the air. You jump back as stuff juts out of the screen. You travel through the bowels of the Sphinx on a 3-D bonus journey.

“Bowels of the Sphinx.” It’s the name of my next rock band.

Anyway, the next logical step for IGT, having mastered three-dimensional slot play, was to add a dimension. Yes, a separate dimension. You can play these games and see your dead relatives. You can look into a parallel universe and see yourself. You can go back in time and tell yourself not to have that fifth bourbon. (Don’t ask.)

OK, maybe it doesn’t actually take you into another dimension. But it does let you interact with the slot game in a completely new way. It’s got something called “mid-air haptic” technology, and something else called “gesture recognition.” You can reach into the fourth dimension to grab an orb and drag it to the center of the screen for an award. You draw a circle, and it changes the scene from day to night. You gesture, and it sees you gesture. You flip the machine off, and it flips you back.

Yes, I made the last one up. The machine won’t see you flip the bird. Lf you’re mad at the game, you still have to manually put your fist through the screen.

But it does do all that other stuff. And it’s not the only mind-boggling thing you’ll find from IGT this year. On the new “Sex and the City” game, they’ve got something called “PowerSight,” in which you can select objects or characters or treasure chests by looking at them. You fix your gaze on something, and it reacts. Need to pick an object in a bonus game? Just give it a good look. Leer at Carrie on the screen, and she’ll call you a perv, and flip you the bird.

Not really, but it’s possible with this technology, right? You IGT folks reading this: Feel free to add the bird-flipping thing to the Sex and the City game. Sarah Jessica Parker said it’s OK. She said you should give me money for the idea, too.

There is a lot of other boffo technology coming from the slot manufacturers this year, like virtual reality attractions that will let you put on a helmet gizmo and battle aliens, Knights of the Round Table, evil clowns, longshoremen or anything else you can dream up. You’re tethered to the technology by a cable, so you can’t wander off to explore the imaginary worlds.

I suppose that’s just as well. You don’t want people walking around the casino bopping people in the chops with imaginary swords, thinking they’re charging Genghis Khan or sword-fighting with Errol Flynn.

While all this new technology is upon us, we shouldn’t forget that it comes with the possibility of glitches. Sometimes, these glitches can be disastrous, like what happened in California in August.

Patrons at the Graton Resort & Casino in Sonoma County were happily spinning the reels when the network controlling the ticket printers broke down. No one could cash out, and most of the players weren’t going anywhere until they got their dough.

The casino was faced with sending out fleets of employees to hand-pay everyone who had credits on their machines. That took nearly five hours. Some people eventually gave up and left, with one article quoting a patron who left $101 on his meter.

As you can imagine, that player was the exception. Most ofthe 1,000 or so patrons wouldn’t budge—according to one article, there were people waiting for $5.

I’m not surprised. During the deadly 1980 fire at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, they had trouble evacuating players from the slot machines. Smoke billowing through the place, and there were people waiting for their dollar tokens.

Hey, I understand. These were slot players who had won. They had just bucked that big slot-machine house edge, beat the odds and won. They weren’t going to let a little thing like a fatal conflagration keep them from collecting their winnings.

And those folks in California weren’t going to let a little thing like waiting for a hand-pay keep them from collecting their winnings.

Technology always changes. Slot players don’t.

 

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