I'm going to take a little ride in my mental time machine to a time, perhaps not so long ago though it mayseem like it, in which I was standing in our local pizza shop with what seemed an innumerable number of quarters in my pocket. I stood before a pinball machine, intense focus blazing in my twelve-year old hazel eyes and apparent in my fixed jaw, perhaps a few beads of sweat glistening my forehead as I got close to the score of the previous player, and if I were to surpass that score, not having to pay for the next game.
Winner stays, loser or challenger pays!!!
Those are the Rules, I didn't write them. Such is the natural of order of things, is it not? The winner is rewarded, he walks in with a pocket full of quarters, and when the shop closes, he leaves with a pocket full of quarters.
A slow rising of the flippers as I saw the ball careen through the chute on the right with a speed, I hoped, that would not cause it to jump over the flipper on the right to the flipper on the left. It absolutely could not go to the flipper on the left because my target was on the left, and if I were to hit that target, I would unlock the Bonus 10,000 points for hitting all like targets and my victory and continued playing would be all but assured.
I would still be the, albeit temporary, King of the Pinball Machine. The Divine One who the commoners would have to come in droves in further, hopefully vain, attempts to knock off of his exalted throne.
In the interest of journalistic integrity, I should mention that it was actually the Arcade version of Mortal Kombat...I was never really much into the Pinball game.
What if we could take that Arcade that existed then and use our time machine to move it into the now? The stakes would be higher, of course, as many of us would consider a pocketful of quarters more of a burden than a blessing and look for the nearest bank or retailer to turn them into paper currency.
But, the concept, what if the concept remained the same? Winner stays, loser pays. The natural order of life that we recognized even at that tender, barely pubescent stage, reinventing itself in all of its elegant simplicity.
Vegas Pinball 2047.
What a concept!
While I realize that our collective human attention span has been decimated by easy access to countless modes of information and entertainment alike, I would suggest that anyone wishing to fully understand and appreciate this game watch the following videos:
I should imagine that those guys can explain it better than I could ever hope to, after all, the good people of NanoTech Gaming Labs are the ones who invented it. They are, potentially, the pioneers of a new order of Gaming, an order in which player immersion and integration are at the forefront of objectives when creating a new game.
For those who do not care to watch the videos at this time, Vegas Pinball 2047 is a Gambling Pinball game in which the player first plays a game of Pinball and then has his or her bet resolved by a wheel in which landing in the Red section results in a loss and landing in the Green section results in a win.
There are multiple ways to play this game. For a player who does not believe she is very good at Pinball, she may choose to play a game in which skill does not matter at all. The default setting for a $100 bet on the game is an EV of 99%, so regardless of how this player performs on the pinball game, on an even money bet, 49.5% of the wheel will be Green and 50.5% of the wheel will be Red resulting in an Expected Loss of $1, ergo, the 1% House Edge.
However, to varying degrees, a player can opt to have skill be, in part, the deciding factor when determining the EV of his or her bet. A different player might believe himself to be very skilled at Pinball, and as a result, want skill to be reflected as much as possible. The player can customize the degree to which skill matters to such an extent that he might be playing with an EV Range of 75%-123% (because 75% is the minimum permissible return in Nevada). We notice immediately that the mean of these two numbers is 99%, and indeed, if the player plays a perfectly average game, (exactly 50th percentile) then the wheel will reflect 49.5% Green and 50.5% Red.
On the other hand, let's consider a player who is making an Even Money bet of $100 who plays the best game ever seen on the machine. That player will then achieve an Expected Value of 123%, which reflects an Expected Win of $23 (in a few minutes!) and the Wheel would reflect 61.5% Green and 38.5% Red.
The actual result of the wheel is subject to randomization, of course, but the player can actually improve (or worsen) his probability of winning any individual bet purely by way of his actions!
If that degree of integration and immersion isn't enough, fear not dear readers, for this game is even more customizable than that!
You see, the player is not necessarily restricted to an even money bet. The player could perhaps attempt to win less than $100 on a $100 bet thereby improving, in some cases drastically, the probability of winning. If we take the unskilled player into consideration again and want to achieve a 99% return for a player making a $100 bet to win $5, then roughly 94.285% of the wheel would need to start out Green and 5.715% of the wheel would need to be Red. Actually, just slightly more of the Wheel would need to be Green, but you get the point.
Alternatively, the player can opt to risk $100 with the hopes of winning $1000. In this case, 91% of the Wheel would have to start out Red and 9% of the Wheel would start out Green.
The skill-based player can attempt to go for a $1000 win betting $100 in this way and go a not insignificant way towards improving his probability of doing so with an excellent performance. For instance, a 23% advantage with the best game ever would yield a probability of winning closer to 1 in 9 rather than 1 in 11.
However, "Skilled," and, "Unskilled," are not the only options. In fact, the player can personally suggest the degree to which skill will be reflected in the probable result. Conceivably, a player could play with a return Range of 97-101%.
Many people out there are not going to understand the resolution process of this game or how the potential advantage of the game changes, but I think poker players will certainly understand.
Poker is a game of skill, but it doesn't have to be. In terms of pure luck poker, imagine a Five-Card Stud game in which two players each bet $100 and the dealer dishes out five cards to each player with, perhaps, the last card face-down for effect. The House will get a rake of $2 for dealing this game and there are no betting rounds because the best hand wins, that's it! The Expected Value for each player is 99% (slightly less if the House rakes on ties, but that's negligible) and one player will win and the other will lose.
While casinos would love it, even dealing only thirty hands an hour the House would be guaranteed $60, no such game exists because poker is fundamentally meant to be a game of skill.
Pinball, on the other hand, can be a game of either skill or fun in this case because the player may choose for skill to either be a factor or not be a factor. However, for the player who enjoys Pinball playing an, "Unskilled," game, the immersion factor is likely still there. Perhaps the immersion factor will be there to such an extent that, as the player feels that he/she is improving at the game, he/she will dial up the degree to which skill matters.
This is also not a game that requires a fixed default House Edge. For instance, if the House made the base return 98%, then, for the player who wants to play a maximum skill-based game, the return would likely range from 75%-121%. It's customizable on all levels for both the players and for the casino. There are limitless options.
The only possible problem with this game, in my opinion, is that players might not be ready for it just yet, or more likely, the casinos may not be ready for it just yet. I certainly hope it gets the chance because, while I have little doubt that Interactive Gaming has a bright future, the degree of success enjoyed by this game (and the casinos who offer it) could go a long way into determining how quickly players will find themselves with fully interactive gaming options.