Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 | 2 a.m.
From the very beginning, slot machines — with fast-spinning reels and the sound of coins clattering into metal buckets — were designed to excite the senses and hopefully drive players to bet more. Today, slot makers are hoping new technology will make games even more immersive.
One example is IGT’s new 4-D Sphinx slot, placed on casino floors for the first time at Station Casinos properties on Wednesday.
Of course, 3-D, in which objects appear to float and move in space, isn’t new; 3-D movies were popular in the ’50s. The technology is not even new to gaming. IGT’s 3-D Sphinx game, which does not require glasses, went live on casino floors in 2014.
In 4-D Sphinx, the video slot reel symbols and other images float off the screen just like in the movies and the 3-D version of the game. The innovation, the attributes that make it 4-D, is that users can actually move, and sometimes feel, the jewels, rings and butterflies hovering in front of them.
The game is able to track the location and movement of a player’s hands in front of the screen, and those gestures are integrated into the game. While spinning the reels and making bets, players use their fingers to make five “drawings” that are incorporated into the action, including:
• Drawing a circle in the air with a finger creates a circle that floats in the air and also changes the on-screen scene from night to day.
• Drawing a figure 8 creates a figure 8 that floats in the air and changes into a butterfly that flies away (alternately they can “touch” a butterfly as part of the game.
• Drawing a triangle in space creates a floating triangle and graphically electrifies the reels for a few spins.
• Drawing a heart causes flowers to grow around the reels.
• Drawing a crown places the player in an expert “Pharaoh” mode.
In addition to being able to create and interact with floating objects, players can also feel like they’re touching them through something called haptic technology.
The game’s chair has built-in speakers that rumble, pulse, shake in sync with jackpots, bonus rounds and other events in the game.
“It’s about the player being able to take more control of the game,” said Dallas Orchard, chief product officer with IGT. “We were watching players on the 3-D game, and they were always reaching out, trying to move the objects.”
In a sense, 4-D Sphinx sits on the continuum between old slots, in which pulling the handle was the only player interaction, and new interactive skill-based games offered by companies such as Gamblit and GameCo.
The theory, proffered by both those companies, is that younger people have grown up playing video games and are used to controlling game play — something players can’t do on traditional slots.
But in Gamblit and GameCo offerings, a player’s skill alters the chances of winning or losing. Player interaction In 4-D Sphinx alters game play, but those changes do not affect the jackpot outcome.
The game is being offered in all Station properties. Members of Station’s players club were invited to one free play as part of 4-D Sphinx’s debut in the past week.