When asked where they work, most people in this business will say the “amusement machine industry.” Note that the first word is “amusement” while the second is “machine” That means we’re in the business of selling fun to the general public by asking them to manipulate a machine. Kind of like dancing with a robot while it sings to you or gives you a prize when the dance is over, only different. Note again that “amusement” comes before “machine,” meaning that the experience rather than the way it’s delivered is where our eyes should be focused first.
Over the many, many years I’ve been writing about this business. that simple fact has never changed. Like any show, or song, or book, or painting, or any other art form, the better games (defined by how often they get played) have the “fun factor” which many engineers have tried to scientifically categorize, but end up scratching their heads when their new game, loaded with features that were popular on a similar hit, end up in the dump.
If you ever get to visit our office in Los Angeles, we’ll show you a closet containing nine legal document boxes jammed with product photos we’ve collected since 1979 (I guess we tossed the ones we ran earlier). You can get a lot of razor blades into a shoebox and a lot of photos into those nine boxes. Most of those machines were quickly forgotten, and we could comfortably slip photos of all the hits from those files into just one of those boxes. Guess the players didn’t find most of them very amusing.
Bob Cooney, of Ecast fame, wrote an excellent story in this issue about Nevada’s new law allowing skill to be incorporated into future gambling machines. For the first time, players will be enticed to use the same sort of moves they now use on our amusement machines to affect the outcome. When that happens, it’ll be a whole different experience as it adds “fun” to the process of blowing your weekly paycheck.
According to Nevada’s applicable Reg. 14, a game of skill means “a game in which the skill of a player rather than chance is the dominant factor in affecting the outcome of a game as determined over a period of continuous play.” Note the use of the word “dominant.” I for one can’t wait to see this all play out. Do you think any of our manufacturers will try to get into this? Ya think?
In his story, Bob reminds us that any machine is fun to play when folks would actually play it even if it didn’t offer a free replay or a prize. Think about this when you check out the new games on display at the forthcoming Amusement Expo in Las Vegas. Walk a little slower around the floor than usual and play more of the new pieces yourself to see how high the fun meter goes. Sure, the quality of construction, visual appearance and price count. But the players at your game room and the other locations don’t care much about that. Like Cyndi Lauper might sing: “Folks just wanna have fun!”
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