How often do you leave the sound on when you’re playing your favourite game? Or any other game for that matter? Is moving the mouse towards the mute button more important than clicking the spin button whenever you load up an online slot? This is an issue which tends to divide slots players between those who don’t care about the sound and have no problem with and those who want nothing to do with it.
So let’s have quick look back at why this situation came about and why many slots retain frustratingly bad sounds when there are plenty of alternatives.
The original sounds were of course those of the mechanical workings of the machines; the action of pulling the lever, the physical movement of the reels and – hopefully – the torrent of coins when you hit the jackpot. With the advent of electronic games in the 1960s and the replacement of moving parts by circuit boards , artificially added sounds became important – the player needed to hear something to accompany their gameplay.
These games formed the basis for many of the classics and through various generations of improvements, the sounds remained the same; blips and beeps became the norm, long past the time when it became possible to add more sophisticated sounds.
When online slots first hit the scene in the late 1990s, the trend continued with very few developers opting for anything other than the most basic noises. The good news for annoyed players though was that at least you could turn the sound off; additionally you were playing in the comfort of your own home and were not disturbed by someone on a neighbouring machine.
Moving on a few years and the developers are beginning to realise that putting some effort in to the sound effects can make for a better and more memorable player experience. Check out Net Entertainment’s Aliens for an example of what’s possible. It’s also worth mentioning that music and sound effects can play a part in the psychology of a game, building up an atmosphere of excitement which makes it seem as though a big win is on the way (read more here) and keeping the player on the game a little longer.
We would argue that making an effort with the sound during the development process pays off both for the designed and the player.