Back in 1895 when Charles Fey first created the Liberty Bell, the first slot machine that we would recognise today (although it was a one armed bandit more than a push button creation), there were only a few symbols to look out for, and they would be the same on every slot machine. These were the hearts, spades, and diamonds of a deck of cards, as well as lucky horseshoes and the Liberty Bell itself. There were only three reels and since each reel contained five symbols, only a few different ones were actually needed. On top of this, familiar symbols were chosen so that everyone would know where they stood in terms of winning – or losing.
In the early 1900s the design of these primitive slots changed. Gambling was banned which meant the machines wouldn’t be able to pay out money anymore. Instead, they paid out in gum. To symbolise this, the bar symbol was added, and the cards were replaced by fruit. Hence the term ‘fruit machine’.
Since the ban on gambling stuck around for a while, nothing really changed, and even when it was lifted, people had grown so used to the Slotzo slots and their symbols that designers and creators just stuck with the same tried and tested pictures. After all, if something looks strange and new, people might not be so willing to use it, but if it looks familiar they would feel more at ease and be more likely to spend their money by playing.
Of course, the internet changed all this, as it always seems to do. This ‘online revolution’ meant that more and more gambling sites were opening up, and they all wanted to compete with one another. They all wanted to stand out. Even back in the 1990s when this started, the need to be at the top of the search engine tables was understood.
At this point, designers started coming up with new ideas. They added themes to the games and made new symbols accordingly. For a new generation, this was not a scary or off-putting thing; it was instead something exciting, and far from turning them off, they wanted to play more and more.
So what should you be looking out for when playing online slots? Most of the time, no matter what theme you’re playing or even if you’re enjoying an old fashioned fruit machine, it’s the bonus symbols that are going to make the most difference.
Each game will have its own design of bonus symbols, so it would be impossible to list the tens of thousands of them here, but when you see them you’ll know what they are. These are the symbols that are different to the rest – some even have the word ‘bonus’ written on them to ensure you don’t miss them. These are the symbols that can boost your winnings or send you across to a bonus game where there is more chance of winning and where you have to use skill rather than luck in a lot of cases.