We all have our favourite slot games. Trying to figure out why we like this game over the other is not an easy task. We might have a golden win lingering in our minds, making that game our lucky game, at least until we have another big win in a different game, and then it’s this one that is our new lucky game. Sometimes we really like the graphics, or the world they portray. We love Gonzo’s Quest game because it reminds us of our trip to South America, or we have a weak spot for the South Park slot because we can’t get enough of really young children being super nasty.
Or maybe it’s the soundtrack that makes us really like a certain game, those sounds that keep playing while we play. Don’t disregard the importance of the accompanying music in slots. If you don’t buy it, try to play a few rounds with the sound turned off and you’ll see. You’ll get bored and uninterested really quickly. Same as with movies. If you ever saw a movie during post production, before the soundtrack was added to it, you know what I’m talking about; the movie just sits there awkwardly, rolling forward with a lack of purpose – really hard to be engaged with.
Sound Affects Us
Julian Treasure, a renowned sound consultant, says there are four ways in which sound affects us. First, physiologically, sound waves penetrate our bodies and cause our cortisone levels to increase and our heart rate to react as well.
Secondly, sound affects us psychologically. Music soothes us, bird singing reassures us. These reactions are embedded in us, since for thousands of years when birds sang it meant everything was alright, it is when they stopped we knew something was wrong.
The third way in which sound affects us is congnetively. Our brain has a narrow bandwidth for sound processing. An example for that would be our difficulty to listen and comprehend two people speaking simultaneously. When working in an open plan office our productivity can drop by as much as 66% due to background chatter.
And last, which is the most interesting one, is behavioural. Sound affects the way we do things and act. Consider a car with fast-pace hard rock music exploding through its rolled-down windows. Would you expect that car to drive at a 20mph? Probably not.
Listen to the Slot
Which brings us back to the background sounds, the soundtrack of slots. If you are an avid online slot player you’ve probably noticed that each slot has its own distinct sounds. If you taken that for granted, then you shouldn’t have. For almost a century, until the 1990’s, mechanical slots produced the same rolling and bell clinking sounds. Think about that for a second.
But when video and online slots emerged, a world of possibilities opened up, graphically and audibly. The ability to customise each slot with unique graphics and sounds allowed for hundreds if not thousands of different slots to be created. We will never, ever, be bored again of seeing the same three fruits and four game cards symbols, or hearing the same ringing bells.
Studying the Effect of Sound in Slot Games
Recent studies conducted by the Department of Psychology in the University of Waterloo looked into the impact of sound in modern multiline video slot machines. I kid you not. They published a 13-page paper with the results of the research. It went like this: they took a group of 96 experienced slot players and divided them to two groups. For the first group, they simply let play video slots. But for the second group, they muted the sound of the slots, letting them play in silence. All players were of course monitored for their ECG signals and skin conductance levels.
The results were conclusive. Sound influenced the players greatly both psychophysically and psychologically, increasing their engagement with the game, their enthusiasm to continue playing and their overall enjoyment from the experience.
Until Next Time
So next time you play a slot game give some respect to the sounds that accompany the game. Pay attention the different sounds for a Big Win, or Stacked Wilds, or a Free Spin. A lot of thought and creativity went into every aspect of the game’s soundtrack. Who knows, you might even develop a new liking to some games for their exuberant soundtracks and cleverly chosen bits of sounds.
* The writer is the Head of Content for PrimeGaming