Game changer: How design techniques from online social gaming are transforming the slot machine experience.

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1 Game changer: How design techniques from online social gaming are transforming the slot machine experience. Daniel Lee Sahl Department of Sociology University of Nevada, Las Vegas

2 Research Focus How are the latest generation of slot machines incorporating structure and design elements from popular online social games like Facebook s Farmville and World of Warcraft? What are the potential implications of these new design elements for the study and treatment of problem gambling, underage gambling, and internet problem gambling.

3 Online Social Games: An Introduction Large, global populations Farmville: 47 million users in February 2011 World of Warcraft : 11 million subscribers in 2010 Surprising diversity in age, gender, and race of players Game play requires long-term commitment Advancement often requires many hours of sometimes boring, repetitive play in order to earn enough currency or points or achievements to unlock a reward (grinding) WOW players spend an average of 11 hrs/week playing (conservative estimate) Profitable Activision/Blizzard reported 4 billion in revenue in 2009 Zynga valued at over 5 billion

4 Motivations for Playing Online Social Games Nick Yee Achievement Social Relationships Immersion Successful Online Social Game contains all three of these elements Designers structure game play in a way that significantly intertwines these three elements The processes and actions required to maintain your character s progress and status in the world mimics the working world.

5 Plant and harvest crops several times a day to earn experience points and increase their farming level. Playing and working with friends on Facebook is necessary for timely advancement in the game. Over time, players earn currency that can be used to buy virtual items that act as cosmetic decoration or have utilitarian value. Players that want to advance more rapidly in the game can use real money to buy extra virtual currency

6 Players kills monsters and complete quests to level their character, earn currency, and win items of value. Social ties and friendships are vital to progressing through the advanced levels of the game A complicated and diverse economy with thousands of virtual items that can be farmed, made, discovered, bought, and sold. The most valuable and prestigious items usually have to be won or earned, they cannot be bought.

7 Online social games are strategically designed to encourage players to invest time in their characters for a potentially endless period of time Endless series of achievements to unlock and earn. Decaying rewards model (each reward takes longer to earn than the first) Rich and detailed worlds to explore. Designers are always adding new content High importance on virtual currency and commodities that are earned through sustained game play. Players can customize their avatars by winning or buying virtual items Social interaction and a network of friends is vital to achievement and advancement. Social interaction quickly transitions to social obligation.

8 How are slot manufacturers adapting these techniques to their games?

9 Method: Content analysis of EGM displays at the 2010 Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

10 Online social game characteristics in next generation slot play Achievement Bonus rounds (often multiple) Progressive goals earned through reel spins Non-monetary wins (bonus multipliers, steps towards a bonus round) Social Interaction Group bonus rounds Cooperative and mildly competitive group aspects Immersion 3d sound and visuals Branding Integration of animation, movie clips with game play

11 Achievement Bonus rounds have become significant (if not main) method of delivering wins Like online social games, there are a growing number of multiple bonus rounds to experience. The more bonus experiences offered, the more time commitment required to experience them

12 Some models are visually displaying player s advancement towards a guaranteed bonus round Other models allow players to collect non-monetary wins like multipliers or other enhancements that could potentially improve winnings if a bonus round hits

13 Social Interaction: Group Slot Rounds

14 Can be cooperative or competitive in nature Group bonus rounds are designed to encourage players to keep spinning the reels in order to last long enough to make it to the group event. Bonus rounds also encourage couples or other groups (family, friends) to each play machines simultaneously rather than observing one member of the group play. Much like online social games, the opportunity to trigger a bonus round or the potential win for all players is significant enhanced when all machines are being played.

15 Immersive 3d visuals and 3d animations provide a machineuser interface that cannot be replicated on a television or computer screen Speakers built into seats not only envelop players in the action of the machine but also create physical vibrations that allow the player to feel the action Video and animation clips from popular movies and television shows are synchronized with 3d visuals, sounds, and important machine events (wins, bonus rounds) to produce a highly stimulating and disorienting sensory experience

16 Content analysis of structural features at IGT showcase at Global Gaming Expo 2010 (21 unique machines analyzed*) Frequency % Group Events 4 19 Bonus Rounds Multiple Bonus Rounds 9 42 Bonus Rounds (5 or more) 5 24 Non-monetary wins 5 24 Branding d Visual d Sound 8 38 *excluding video poker machines

17 Slot Machines: The Next Generation New design and game play elements are significantly changing the EGM experience. What effect will these changes have on problem gambling?

18 Can we look at addiction to online social games for guidance? Pro: Online social games have been popular for over ten years. Anecdotal and clinical studies highlight cases of addictive time commitment with severe consequences to the player Con: Little research and even less consensus on the causes, the impact, or the diagnosis of online social game addiction

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