Celebrated slots

Jul 6, 2004 5:54 AM

Heading to a casino to play slots? Be prepared for many of the machines to resemble the listings in your TV guide. In addition to perennial favorites such as Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! (both of which come in spinning reel and video versions), you could find I Love Lucy, The Beverly Hillbillies, M*A*S*H video slots, The Price Is Right, and a number of television-themed slot machines.

Entertainment themes are not confined to just TV, either. The movies weigh in with American Graffiti, Austin Powers, and Diamond Cinema which comes in several versions celebrating the Golden Age of Hollywood: Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman-Humphrey Bogart, James Dean and Frank Sinatra. In the music industry, the charts are topped by Elvis, but you can also Catch A Wave with the Beach Boys, "know when to hold ’em" with Kenny Rogers, and rock along with Wild Thing by The Troggs. In the celebrity/personality category, Beetle Bailey has recently joined Evel Knievel, American Bandstand and the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

So what gives? Joe Kaminkow, IGT’s vice president of game design, says several factors are at work. "We are, first of all, in the entertainment business, and we see slot machine games as the mini-movies showing at your casino multiplex," says Kaminkow. "Playing slots is not just about wagering. Players also want to have fun, be amused by the bonus rounds and, yes, they hope to win."

Familiarity is another reason IGT has developed games drawn from popular culture. "We’ve found that players identify with many of these themes," Kaminkow says. "They like the show or the performer and transfer some of this affection to the game. Think of Barbara Eden as Jeannie, or Regis Philbin. People like them and want to play their game."

IGT has introduced several games that take theming slot machines even further: Harley-Davidson, drawn from the legendary American motorcycle, and Spam, the all-purpose canned meat. "These brands are perceived to be icons in their respective fields. They conjure up clearly understood images, and we have just extended the brand into slot machine games," Kaminkow explains.

Popular board games are also showing up as slot machines. Othello and UNO will make their way to casino floors in the coming months. Even Magic 8 Ball is destined to be a slot machine — but we can make no promises about the accuracy of its predictions!