Published on 11 June 2015 by Sebas
Wild symbols are part of the ‘special game features’ of all Netent video slots (and even some Netent video poker games). Therefore in this second part of a series of articles about the illustrious ‘Wild One’ we look at its (long) history.
Wilds: a brief introduction into a long history
Other than Free Spins and Bonus Games as special features in modern day video slots, the substituting Wild symbols can boast a history which dates back (at least) about 150 years. Around half of the 19-th century the from Germany originating card game ‘Euchre’ (or ‘Jücker’ in German) introduced the Joker as a standard extra playing card into the card playing decks of that time, while simultaneously both this game as well as poker became increasingly popular in the United States of America.
The extra Joker card from Euchre was quickly used by poker players as a ‘Joker Wild’ to ‘spice up’ their poker gameplay a little bit. The joker could serve as either a ‘Fully Wild’ (able to substitute for any other symbol to form or complete a poker hand) or a ‘bug’ (substituting only as an Ace or only allowed to complete certain poker hands, normally Flush, Straight or Straight Flush).
Later on also the ‘Deuces’ (the 2s in a deck of cards) were designated as substituting ‘Wild cards’, which is the reason why nowadays we have the Netent video poker games Deuces Wild and Joker Wild, both based on those forms of poker that use a substituting ‘Wild card’.
Wilds in slot machines
Slot machines were invented at the end of the 19-th century and were based on the poker card game. On the (3) reels of these first ‘one-armed-bandits’ the symbols were Hearts, Diamonds, Spades, Bells, Horseshoes and, on the 3-rd reel, a star. Prizes were won with 3 identical symbols (Bells, Hearts, Diamonds or Spades) on the sole win line, while 2 Horseshoe symbols granted the lowest payout (2 cents), and the second lowest payout (4 cents) was formed by 2 horseshoes and a star-symbol.
So in a way the very first slot machine, the famous ‘Liberty Bell’ invented by Charles Fey, already featured a ‘Wild’ symbol, being the Star symbol completing a Horseshoe win line.
When slot machines gradually evolved from mechanical into electro-mechanical, electronic and digital video slots and eventually went online in the ‘90s of last century, the possibilities to experiment with special game features, and thus also with substituting Wild symbols, became virtually limitless, which eventually resulted in the ‘Wonderful World of Netent Wilds’ this article is all about.
The functions of Wilds in Netent video slots
The original function of the ‘Joker Wild’ in the poker card games and later on as Wild symbols on the reels of slot machines was (and still is) of course to:
“Substitute for other symbols or cards to create the highest paying winning combination”
But with the advances in computer-, animation- and internet technology of the last decades, and the subsequent appearance of slot machines as digital and online video slots, the designers of these games suddenly not only could let a Wild symbol look like whatever they wanted, but also let it do whatever they desired (which formerly was restricted, for example, simply by the fact a symbol needs physical space on a ‘real-life’ reel).
Software (and specifically RNG casino software, the ‘soul’ of any online video slot) allows game designers to transform Wild symbols into (or engage in) any other special game feature they like.
Besides Wild symbols becoming more versatile as special game feature ‘providers’ also their traditional ‘core’ activity in slot games, ‘substituting’, changed influenced by slots becoming completely ‘powered’ by casino software instead of ‘mechanics’.
Not only can they now come in all sorts of shapes and sizes (such as ‘stacked’, as a block or even as a ‘flock’) they also can have all sorts of different ‘behavior’. At this moment there are Wild symbols in Netent video slots that can stick, walk, expand, spread, multiply, link, pay out, transform, win a multi-million jackpot prize and still… substitute.
Learn about the different functions Netent Wilds can have
So besides being the most used special game feature in Netent video slots, Wild symbols also have the longest history. But it wasn’t until the introduction of digital (video) slots before they became the ‘multi-functional’, versatile symbols they represent today. In the 3-rd upcoming article in this series you can read everything about the different functions Wild symbols can have to (most generously) spice up your (and our) Netent video slot game play.