This year the G2E Global Gaming Expo brought with it remote-control helicopters, Playboy Playmate Ida Ljungqvist, “CougarLicious” slot machines and enough continuous-shuffle automated blackjack games to make Ken Uston turn in his grave.
For me the highlight was the IGT Little Shop of Horrors slot machine. It features three-dimensional, man-eating Venus flytraps that grow from the reels’ edges and base. The plants say, “Feed me,” obviously, and they eat player-disadvantageous reel symbols. When they do, the machine makes a satisfying crunching sound and squirts more virtual blood than a Mortal Kombat finishing move.
It wasn’t the blood that drew me to these machines, though; it was my love of the movie (the ’80s musical, not the ’60s original). In middle school I owned LSoH on VHS, and the soundtrack on cassette. I once snuck the tape and a portable cassette player into class with me.
To the best of my knowledge, nobody likes Little Shop of Horrors as much as I do. So while playing the LSoH machine, I couldn’t help but feel IGT had designed it just for me. Intellectually, I know this isn’t the case; intellectually, I know it represents the culmination of broad demographic studies, intense psychological testing and probably focus groups. But I wasn’t thinking about that when I was playing the machine; I was thinking about how awesome the machine was.
And that gives me hope. Even though this year’s gaming revenues are down, if the industry can make more gamblers feel their enthusiasms have been understood and catered to, there’s still hope. Hope that Las Vegas will soon be somewhere that’s green.
Financially speaking, at least.