For those who simply love the slot-playing activity, Game Show Network’s Digital division has the answer
by Frank Legato
You may have heard that online gaming is illegal in this country. While that may be so (for now), those of us who simply love to play slots can do so at home for free.
Welcome to GSN Digital, the online division of TV’s Game Show Network. Found at www.gsn.com on your internet dial, GSN lets you play games with your mouse that have all the bells, whistles and play characteristics of a video slot, and it’s free.
Here’s how it works. You go on the site and sign up, and you’re awarded “virtual currency”—basically a bank of credits, called “tokens.” From there, you can play slots, video poker and video bingo, adding to your credit bank with winnings. If you run out, you can buy more.
There’s a reason they’re called “tokens.” GSN works kind of like an online amusement arcade, only with slot games.
The Game Show Network’s new slot games are an outgrowth of the TV network having placed some of its most popular game shows online in buy-in tournament form. This, in turn, grew from GSN’s sister company, Worldwinner.com.
Worlwinner.com hosted online tournaments involving skill-based games, explains Peter Blacklow, executive vice president of GSN Digital. “We offered skill games like Scrabble, Bejeweled, and even Jeopardy! in a tournament format,” he says.
After joining Worldwinner around nine years ago, Blacklow says he realized the skill-tournament format—entry fees and cash prizes—would work well with online versions of the shows on the Game Show Network, which was owned by the same parent company as Worldwinner. “The concept was that the experience of watching Wheel Of Fortune or Family Feud on TV was similar to the games on our online game site,” Blacklow says. “We started to launch all of the game show titles on the GSN website, to allow players to be their own contestants.”
From there, Blacklow says, it was an easy transition to slot games, which provide the same type of what he calls “lean forward entertainment”—meaning you lean forward in your chair to become part of the game instead of leaning back and just watching. “Whether competing for virtual currency or real cash prizes, both entertainment experiences provide that same thrill of winning,” he says. “There’s not a large distinction between (winning tokens) and winning $3 or $5 on Wheel Of Fortune. It’s really all about the entertainment experience, not the cash prize.”
The content for GSN’s slot games is all developed in-house, although you will see a lot of the same game mechanics and styles of bonus event that you see in your favorite video slots. One more extension of that casino-style play can be found on mobile devices, with GSN apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android smart phones, and even on the “Games” app on Facebook.
Speaking of social media, there is a definite social element to GSN.com. “Whether playing skill-based or chance-based games, there is a sense of community on our site,” Blacklow says. “members are looking for their friends on our site, much like they would go and look for their friends in a casino.”
But mostly, he says, players log on to simply enjoy the experience of playing a slot game—and they enjoy the experience. “If players are motivated by a cash prize, they should find the skill game they’re good at and compete for cash,” says Blacklow, “but if they are more motivated by the actual mechanics of winning, our virtual casino will appeal to them. We provide the same thrill of winning as a land-based casino, particularly on mobile devices. When you play this on an iPad, it’s exciting. It’s a rush when you win, even if you’re winning 2,000 tokens.”
Just like at the arcade.