The great secrets of the electronics industry await to be discovered by journalists from around the world at CES. Deep within the Las Vegas Convention Center are wonders of technology and entertainment, waiting to blow the minds of people hopeful of getting a glimpse into the future. But I, as the intrepid ever-thoughtful reporter, I have discovered the true secret of high technology out here in the desert—and it isn’t in the convention center. No, the most impressive display of next generation tech can be found in those wonderful devices occupied almost constantly by 60 year old hopefuls—Vegas slot machines.
As team Icrontic walked through the Venetian to see the unveiling of Food 2012, a shimmering slot machine caught my eye. Now I am no gambler, but shiny things are always relevant to my interests. I walked over to the spinning, chiming thing and noticed two things. First, it was was an Alice in Wonderland themed game which, despite Brian’s smack talk, made it awesome. Second, the display technology was incredible. And I’m not talking about those cheesy video slot machine types that have animated sequences when you spin. No, this is real bleeding edge stuff. I’m serious—Alice in Wonderland Slots will blow your mind.
Alice has an impressive array of imagery tech. The top of the machine combines both physical and video effects, with cutouts of the characters moving about in a 3D scene combined with various video components that show animated sequences that change dynamically based on what is happening in the game. As impressive as the top portion is, the real killer is the spinning slot reels themselves. Using the traditional physical barrel reels, it doesn’t look like much at first glance. In motion, however, Alice is a game changer. Utlilizing a thin, transparent LCD overlay, win lines, elaborate bonuses, and snazzy animations are played on top of the spinning reels. The entire thing is quite impressive to witness, and it left all of us dumbfounded. This is alien technology. You can’t explain it.
And then there were the buttons. Oh, the buttons! Each of the greasy plastic buttons on the machine employed for placing bets had an LCD display beneath that changed contextually. Forget that Optimus keyboard garbage, this is real-life LCD buttons employed in a real-world use case. When your grandmother goes to bet on the Cheshire Cat, she’ll never realize that the miniscule button she’s pressing contains more technology within it than the original Gameboy had in its entirety.
We eventually walked away from Alice because Brian’s two dollars were gobbled up by the Queen of Hearts (OFF WITH YOUR WALLET, she shouted to us). We soon found a slot machine themed with the Ghostbusters. Hey, 25 years is the perfect time in which it becomes apropos to milk a classic franchise in a gambling environment. Drawn closer by the allure of Slimer’s green mug on the side, we walked up to the machine just to have our minds blown yet again. These slots, totally digital in function, used a dual-layer LCD display. It doesn’t sound all that fancy, sure, but trust me, seeing this beast in action was crazy enough to make you drop your balls. When you spun, everything looked normal, as if you were playing regular digital slots. But when the reel stopped on a bonus of any sort, the second layer came to life with an animated version of what had spun. It was 3D stereoscopy without glasses (the 3DS was late to the party, Ghostbusters Slots gets to say FIRST). It was a very subtle effect that added a lot to the experience in a way that no one will ever notice or appreciate.
Everyone at CES is so eager to see the latest in iPod cases, or mobile devices with Netflix, and cars doing techy stuff (Lamborghini can play Angry Birds now!) that they’re missing the most exciting advancements in display technologies! The capabilities of slots machines are mindblowing, and no one cares. We should be excited, writing articles that give props to these manufacturers who have dished out these fantastic machines. Despite all of their incredible capabilities, I fear that fancy slots are doomed to only be noticed by elderly people hoping to make easy money. It all serves to remind me that there is no justice in this world.