While DISCOVER was in Las Vegas last week covering the Consumer Electronics Show, I noticed two science-fiction themed slot machines. The Star Wars machine has been out for about 18 months, the Star Trek machine was only unveiled about six months ago.
Even though my perfectly reasonable request to DISCOVER’s powers-that-be for a small research fund to investigate these machines was mysteriously refused (it’s all office politics here), I still felt obligated to try them out on your behalf, loyal readers, so I pulled up a chair and stuck in my hard-earned.
In operation, both machines work pretty much like any other modern slot machine–insert money to buy credits, select how many lines you want to bet on, along with how many credits you want to bet on each line, press the button, and away you go. What makes them different are the little themed events that happen whenever you win on a line, with sound effects and video from each franchise. Interestingly, for two new machines, both of them are firmly rooted in the classic Star Trek and Star Wars of 40 and 30 years ago–there’s no Next Generation, or Phantom Menance, here, which says something about the staying cultural power and nostalgia factor of both original franchises.
Of course, it wasn’t long before both machines had eaten all my credits, plus any and all additional credits I had won along the way. So, on the one hand, yes, these machines are designed to sucker science fiction fans into spending more money than they would on a generic slot machine. For example, I expended a lot of credits (albeit penny credits) on the Star Wars game because I really wanted to hit the bonus round where the Death Star mounted in a plastic bubble above the screen lights up and spins around to determine the payout.
On the other hand, realistically, you’re not going to win big in Vegas. The house always wins. So, if you’re not getting your entertainment dollar’s-worth out of the gambling process itself, don’t spend your money. When a fan plays one of these machines, they’re probably getting vastly more entertainment per cent than a person playing at one of the generic slot machines. To us, on some level, if it’s accompanied by a little video of Han Solo uttering one of his trademark laconic quips, a 10-credit combo payout is worth more than a bland 50-credit bonus. Other slot machines promise the chance of winning mere money–these machines give you Scotty and Kirk and Jawas and Darth Vader as well. Who can complain about losing the wager of a few dollars for that?
Links to this Post
- Science Fiction Goes Vegas, Baby! | Lorrd dot com | January 15, 2009
- Science Fiction Goes Vegas, Baby! | MamentoMori | January 15, 2009
- A TARDIS Of Your Very Own | Science Not Fiction | Discover Magazine | January 26, 2009