When Sittman and Pitt created a gambling machine back in 1891, there’s almost no way they assumed that in 125 years or so that their invention would be a virtual reality hit. Although the early drum-based betting machine only formed the basis of what we now call slot machines, the same premise present then is still in play now.
Back in 1891, the machine devised by Sittman and Pitt saw five mechanical drums spin 50 playing cards in a random way when the bet button was pressed. Charles Fey took this concept of spinning drums and random card combinations and created Liberty Bell. Hitting the market in the late 1890s, this game was the first true slot machine and featured three reels. With an automatic payment method in place, players could spin the reels and try to match symbols.
The Core Concept is Crucial
Unlike today’s modern slots, Liberty Bell had just five symbols (horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts, and a Liberty Bell), but, as was the case with Sittman’s and Pitt’s game, the concept stuck. Indeed, when you stroll through any bricks and mortar casino today, slot machines pay homage to these early inventions in more ways than one. Indeed, on top of using the same process of spinning reels working to align matching symbols, many games still contain the traditional images used by Fey.
In fact, it’s not just in the live arena that this tradition lives on. Go online and you’ll see a similar level of tradition running through the most modern machines. For example, William Hill’s online slots range from such as the 20p Slot which boasts three reels to something more complex like Rainbow Riches Reels of Gold with five reels and interactive mini-games. However, even in among the flashing lights and quirky animations you’ll still see some nods to Fey’s Liberty Bell.
Inside 20p Slot the link back to Fey is in the classic three-reel structure. For Rainbow Riches Reels of Gold, the anchor is card symbols such as hearts and diamonds. Essentially, what we’re seeing here is a direct lineage from today’s online slots to the early instances of these games. Now, in our opening we suggested that the original slot pioneers wouldn’t have been able to envisage their ideas as virtual reality hits and we meant it.
Traditional Features Still Present in Modern Tech
Even though online casinos don’t currently offer virtual reality slots, it really is only a matter of time. With virtual reality gaming set to be worth $22.9 billion by 2020, software developers are already vying to get ahead of the game. In February 2017, NetEnt released a preview of its latest concept: Gonzo’s Quest VR. Based on the popular Gonzo’s Quest, this virtual reality prototype sees players take a first-person view of the action in a bid to win prizes.
However, even in the very midst of the latest gaming technology, there is still a direct link back to the past. Sure, the reels don’t spin this game (they fall in random formations), but the process of trying to align matching symbols is still the same. In essence, slot machines became trendy in the early 20th century and they’ve never fallen out of fashion. Even though their form has changed over the years, the core features have remained the same and that’s not only something players love, but it’s a testament to how enjoyable these games really are.