Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 11

Slot Machines and Player’s Memories 7 combines images o f a scarab, the Sphinx, a feather quill, and a tablet of hieroglyphics with a desert palette; the queen herseif greets the player as she opens a gaming session. Atronic’s Sphinx includes images o f coins, a jackal, the crossed Symbols o f kingship, and o f course, a pyramid. W M S’s Zeus iconic imagery includes a laurel wreath, a chariot, and a white bearded, elderly Zeus himself. These games have staying power, as they have been in play since around 2003, and a number o f copycat versions, as well as sequels, have appeared through the years. These games and their descendants are notable because the images are devoid o f the more complex ideas introduced to us in high school and beyond. Cleopatra has no political existence, nor any connection with Marc Antony; the Sphinx is never shown as a camivore; there are no images which reflect, for example, the single-branched trees o f some royal families, or the fact that mummies are preserved human remains. The images seen are those which first captivated the player’s imagination, the ones in his coloring books and in World Book, and they are meant to appeal to one’s inner child. More interesting, for purposes o f this discussion, are games which originally spoke to complex themes, but which manufacturers updated to reflect kinder, gentler themes, as if controversy or critical thinking simply did not belong on the slots floor. One such example is Atronic’s Mayan Magic, a disturbing yet highly entertaining game which first emerged around 2006, and frightened gamers until it was replaced in 2010 with a bright, bold, simply drawn version tam er than most G-rated games created for Xbox. Mayan Magic appealed directly to the Viewmaster-txamed imagination o f the typical Baby Boomer, presenting a mysterious atmosphere through its palette and use o f mythological icons. Steeped in deep greens, blues, and maroons, a player “met” snakes and lizards, and “read” runic Symbols which took him back in time, immersing him in a lost world. However, the horrors o f the game were true horrors indeed: themes o f conjuring and human sacrifice pervaded the bonus rounds, and the player was treated to the sights o f a hellish heart bound in thomy vines and a desiccated shrunken head. There was also a literal ghost in the machine, a spirit who appeared like a wisp o f smoke and then disappeared. Mayan Magic provided answers to the questions o f what exactly happened in the great, ruined pyramids choked by lush foliage in the Mexican jungle. It was also a game one did not play in the middle o f the night, after a few drinks, when one had to retire to one’s room later, down a quiet, deserted hallway.