Games have a universal appeal; self-conscious creatures will not need much convincing to start playing and will gladly find ways to turn everything into a game. No surprise there – playing is the most enjoyable path to learning something new or experiencing the world around.
Yet, two-legged creatures (also known as people) stuck to their well-known ‘push the envelope’ patterns and took gaming from the occasional fun, to a full blown industry.
- Tradition: the Gaming Design VS. Disruption: the Playground Design
Yes, psychology plays an essential role in designing casino interiors (the main differentiators since the games are more or less the same everywhere) which are aimed at keeping players engaged and wanting more. But gaming causes mental exhaustion which, in turn, translates to physical burnout. This is why casino layouts that enable ‘restoration’ – a state in which the effects of mental fatigue are counterbalanced against a sense of relaxation and stress relief – have started to gain serious momentum.
As a concrete example, let’s have a look at how conventional templates were re-interpreted by new-wave designer Roger Thomas at Bellagio Las Vegas, in Nevada.
Dealing with Time
What’s quickly obvious in traditional casinos is the effort to abolish time; no windows or clocks in sight to distract gamblers from ignoring odds and spending money. In contrast, playground design casinos display lush interiors where artistic timepieces (visibly) contribute to the luxurious feel of the room and light is permitted in through unobstructed skylights.
Dealing with Space
If you've ever been in a hotel where the casino was the first thing you saw upon entering the lobby, if it had low ceilings, almost no decor outside of tables & machines and a layout that would always steer the path back to the gambling area, then you've seen said gaming design in action. On the other side, playground design goes for elegant lobbies – filled with art and natural flowers (not penny slots) – and distinct sight lines (that simplify navigation) as a means to promote restoration. Adding specific scents to the mix is an inspired choice, such as proven by the 45% increased returns in odorant enhanced areas.
Dealing with Décor
Traditional layouts have gambling equipment as an almost exclusive casino décor; nothing should shift the players’ focus away from placing bets and pumping cash. The truth is this held steady for a while. But attention spans are limited resources and playground design bets on impressive decorations as a way to overcome anxiety and take on the (glamorous) characteristics of a room.
The evolution from maze to playground shows that gambler profiles and preferences are changing and that rings particularly true when we observe the rise of the virtual casinos such as conquercasino.com. It’s quite interesting to see how brick-and-mortar design priorities have migrated to the online. Comfort & engagement still top the list but having players already in a relaxing environment (i.e. at home or in a vacation spot) presents an important, additional advantage.
Just like real-world designers, online game designers focus on making the gambling ‘equipment’ look & feel as much like a game as possible and strive to move the player’s focal point away from the actual money spending. Plus, they have extra sound and colour power to work with in the process of keeping gamblers interested and connected.
No doubt about! Gaming is contagious and there’s no other place where this becomes crystal clear than in a casino, be it virtual or otherwise. So, the next time you find yourself ready to take the game on, test the theory – look around: are ever you alone?