Why we still love slot machines after 100 years
The sentimental bond between Brits and traditional arcades at the seaside has now fully transcended into a digital world – so why do we still love to play slots?
A new bid to bring back the ‘good old days’ of Cleethorpes Pier has attracted buyer-interest from around the world. A guide price of £400,000 has been pinned to the Lancashire landmark. It comes as no surprise as the venue and its attractions represent nostalgic seaside fun at its best; ice cream, music, fish and chips…
Amongst all the pier’s triggers for happy memories is the fruit machine - the ever-present enticer in any casino or fairground setting. Nothing compares to the enjoyment a quick jackpot can give us – even if it’s only £5.00. This age-old excitement factor attached to the fruit machine has travelled with it in its migration to the realm of online gaming…but why is that exactly?
History of Land-Based Slots
The first mechanical slot was created in the late 1800s and was basically an automated version of poker. Gum, not money, was awarded to winning players but still the game was popular. Players sought to match three ‘Liberty Bells’ in a row for the jackpot – those bell symbols are still used in the majority of slots today.
In 1963, the first electromechanical slots were rolled out in casinos all over America and became an instant hit. Players could bet more and, in-turn, win bigger prizes – they were soon overtaking table games as the most widely-played on casino floors.
Still, the real catalyst for slot machine popularity came in the 1980s, when microchips were introduced. Though initial concerns were raised about the technology’s trustworthiness, this upgrade made the reel outcomes even more random - adding to the appeal.
The science behind slot machine fascination
Winning, or even coming close to it, has long-been argued as the reason we love to play. Researchers break our fascination down into a simple science:
- We play to win jackpots
- Winning jackpots makes us want to play again
- Not winning jackpots makes us want to keep trying
- Especially if there are a few small victories along the way
- Almost winning jackpots is one of the biggest motivators to play
- There is an attached sense of ‘pride’ to defeating the game and sharing stories
Beyond this theory is the element of pure fun attached to the ‘gaming’ side of slots; which could be attributed to why online variations have succeeded too.
Online Slot Machines
With the ‘playing to win theory’ in mind, it is easy to see how the DNA which makes up an online slots game matches that of a one-armed bandit at Cleethorpes Pier. Immediate access to a type of enjoyment that we naturally associate with fun days out at the seaside, is understandably appealing to people at work, studying at home or even just passing time on a night in.
Still, there are players fully dedicated to online slot machines and like to keep trying out fresh new games soon as they come out. These hard-core fans can make some serious cash doing what they love and perhaps this is the ultimate reason why slots have upheld their appeal after 100 years – money.
Whether it’s the prize on offer, the hunt for that prize or the seaside memories that hunt brings with it, plenty of us in Britain are drawn to the slot machine for some reason. As mobile and tablet versions are developing by the day, the future looks even brighter for a device that started out as a complicated gumball dispenser.