Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Global Gaming Expo - Day 1

If you haven't gleaned from my previous posts, the Global Gaming Expo, or G2E is the premiere trade show event for the GAMING industry. That's gaming, NOT gambling, mind you.

The American Gaming Association is quick to assert that Gaming is entertainment, and gambling, well, that has connotations of high risk and ruined lives.

A rose by any other name still smells as sweet, and the fortunes made by the house are sweet indeed. The thorny issue of problem gambling, (note that when "gaming" stops being fun, it becomes "gambling" and therefore a problem -- I say, it is only a problem when I'm losing!) is a PR issue the mighty AGA is only too eager to tackle.

But enough about that, what about the new SLOT MACHINES!!!

Before I headed into the main exhibit hall, I picked up my badge and enjoyed the F&B (Food and Beverage) exhibits. As I mentioned in earlier posts, trade shows are all about the freebies, and G2E certainly does not disappoint.

I stuck with mini roast beef deli sandwiches, hot dogs, a nice merlot and beer. There were plenty of more gourmet inspired options, but sometimes simple is best.

With my strength and spirits rising I headed into the big hall and the WMS and IGT pavilions. I was instantly overwhelmed.

I naturally gravitated toward WMS and looked over a new version of the "Life of Luxury Progressive." A lovely young lady in a very little black dress was happy to show me the bonus round. Of course I was more than familiar with the Life of Luxury free spins, but she couldn't figure out how to queue up the bonus round unique to the machine. No matter, we went around to the other side and she demonstrated the new "Happy Days" Machine for me. She was very pleasant considering she had been standing on very high heels for a very long time, and I thanked her and moved over to the new Clint Eastwood "Make my Day" machine.

"Dirty Harry" and the Sensory Immersion (basically a Bose stereo chair that vibrates) technology is a match made in slot machine heaven. Similar to "Top Gun" in it's macho appeal, the shoot 'em up car chase through the streets of San Francisco in the bonus round, takes the marriage of slots and video games to a logical and exhilarating match. Oh, and I just love Clint.

While trying it out I got to talking to one of the audio techno guys responsible for the creation, and he was quite charming, and only a little bit nerdy. I told him of the popularity of "Wizard of Oz" over "Top Gun" and he offered that "Top Gun" was rather aggressive and testosterone driven, while the "Wizard" was a softer approach. Well, Glinda the Good Witch is all well and good, but Flying Monkeys, and Wicked Witches are only slightly softer than F-14s in my book, still I understood his line. I asked him who did the voices for Clint and John Wayne, and he told me that they had guys they used that were approved by Mr. Eastwood and the Wayne family.

So there you have it. That is not Clint Eastwood making your day, but an approved impersonator, or perhaps "Tribute Artist" as they like to be called.

I couldn't tarry long with Clint, as there were a slew of other new machines waiting to be discovered. I quickly checked out "Harlem Globetrotters" similar to "Dukes of Hazzard" in line configuration and the new "Rotating Wild" machines.

I found myself at the "Slot Machine University" kiosk in the WMS booth, and cut right to the chase with the attendants. I asked them about the function of the RNG in bonus rounds. They both admitted that they had asked the same question themselves and had never gotten a straight answer. I then asked them where the party was. Like I said, time was a'wastin' and I had a whole exhibit hall of new machines to conquer. They offered that the parties were at the House of Blues and Tangerine, but they were ticketed affairs. These dudes didn't seem to have access to tickets, so I thanked them and moved on.

The largest display in the IGT booth was the "eBay" themed machines, and a new version of "Star Wars" -- that's right, I said "eBay" -- if monopolizing online auctions wasn't enough eBay wants access to your wallet on the casino floor as well. I am very active on eBay, but honestly the concept just does not translate into a slot machine. I was quickly bored with the look, and that whole "Community Gaming" thing, similar to the "Monopoly" and "Press Your Luck" machines by WMS.

It was nearing 5pm, so I fanned out over the floor to take in the offerings of Atronic, Bally, and other lesser slot machines companies. I grabbed a beer from the roving cocktail servers and walked the aisles. Nothing really jumped out at me, and I decided to call it a day.

As I was headed toward the Hilton skywalk, the "Gaming Hall of Fame" booth caught my eye. It had an affiliation with UNLV, and featured luminaries such as Frank Sinatra and Merv Griffin alongside lions of the industry.

Basically, a two dimensional (the panels of the booth featured photos and bios of select inductees) representation, a real live human did stand in the middle, so I asked him about the display.

On thing led to the other, and I asked him if he knew that UNLV gaming research guy, what was his name? Um, Schwartz . . . David Schwartz? He said "I am David Schwartz," in a polite and unassuming way that made me laugh, and not feel the least bit embarrassed.

I'll let the good Doctor Schwartz's (he's a PhD) accomplishments and endeavors speak for themselves through his website "The Die is Cast"

Peruse his site, and his insight, he's written three books on gambling and casinos, and is the director of UNLV Gaming Research Center.

I especially like his gallery of casino carpets, that's just the sort of quirky visually detailed kind of stuff I thrive on.

Even though I would consider Schwartz a sort of "Rock Star" at the crossroads where academia and casinos meet (yes, I think there is such a place, and we can thank folks like Schwartz for it) he appears to be an affable, down to earth guy.

If ever I can tear myself away from the slots, I'll be sure to read his books . . . I've been meaning to, but like Bette Davis says in "All About Eve" I'm a girl who "reads book reviews like they were books!" I'm sure Schwartz's offerings are probably perfect for a lazy afternoon by the casino pool. They have been on my radar screen for quite some time, I need to start zooming in.

I walked through the Hilton, to get to my car, updated my slot club info, and played the "Gold Lame" penny Elvis slots. Shockingly, I hit a couple of bonus rounds, left $20 up, and cruised down the strip to Mandalay Bay.

The party at the House of Blues seemed difficult to sneak into, so I played a little "Monopoly Super Grand Hotel" drove to Silverton for a free buffet, and rounded out my evening by picking up my free turkey platter at South Point.

Now I'm off for G2E - Day 2!

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