Video slots are an onscreen, graphical computer ran by a computer program that represent slot machine reels. Most of the slot machines today are video slots.
When Charles Fey perfected the forerunner of the modern slot machine in 1895, the games were mechanical devices. The first games were limited to three reels and five symbols. This setup provided the upper limit of outcomes a mechanical device could track. The new form of gaming proved quite popular, leading game makers to look for ways to improve the excitement.
The advent of computers made slots the gambling juggernaut they are today. New computer chips transformed slot machines from mechanical cabinets into video games. The computer can track many more symbols and reels, allowing even higher jackpots. They’ve also made slots safer, more reliable, and more honest.
The major electronic innovation that makes video slots possible is the Random Number Generator, or RNG. The RNG is a special computer chip that generates random numbers every microsecond. It constantly generates these numbers, even when no one is playing the game.
Each of these random numbers corresponds to a specific outcome of the machine. The second a player presses the stop button, the RNG grabs the random number of that microsecond and compares it to an outcome list.
Whatever outcome matches the computer’s listed random number is the result of that spin. RNGs have made slot machines truly random games. Thanks to this microchip, each spin of the reels is unique. There’s no way to predict the outcome of any given spin.
Computer chips have also made slot machines more exciting. No longer is the number of symbols dictated by the size of the reels. The reels are now totally digital, meaning there can be as many or as few symbols as the programmer wishes.
The downside to this is higher odds of winning a jackpot, possibly as unlikely as 1 in 16 million. However, there’s an upside. With the odds of winning so high, slot machines can offer even higher payouts than ever before. Progressive video slots especially can hold jackpots of truly staggering size as the prize money grows with each spin.
More honest gaming is another perk from playing video slots. This is also thanks to the RNG. The RNG is the only thing that determines the outcome of a slot machine. Casinos have no control or contact with the computer chip. The microchip is programmed, locked, and installed by the manufacturer. The microchip can’t even be reprogrammed; if a casino wishes to change the payout percentage of a slot machine, it must replace the RNG. Replacement microchips are incredibly expensive, and most gambling regulatory commissions require lots of paperwork before the computer chips can be switched. Usually, casinos prefer to choose the payout percentage when purchasing the machines, and trust the manufacturer to install the correct chip.
There’s more to video slots than just watching reels spin, too. The games themselves have changed, in addition to the machine’s inner workings. Most video slot machines include bonus rounds, offering a new dimension of fun. These bonus rounds often take the guise of mini-video games. Game show episodes, matching games, fighting games, mazes – there’s no end to the number of forms a bonus round could take. These mini-games are not only fun, but they also offer even more chances to win money.
Progressive slots are possible through video slots, as well. Single machines can keep track of an ever-growing jackpot, but that’s not the only option. For even bigger progressive jackpots, multiple machines can be linked together. This creates one jackpot that grows from the money put into an entire group of machines, and any one of the machines can win the massive payout. Computers also provide more ways to win, with microchips able to keep track of more reels, more symbols and more paylines than ever.
Video slots have become the premiere form of the slot machine available today. It can be difficult even finding one of the old mechanical slot machines at a casino anymore. Video slots have larger jackpots and more to offer than the clanging reels of the original games anyway. With so much fun in a single machine, why go back to a traditional three-reel? It’s no wonder these video games have become the largest offering at most casinos today.