Worth the effort.

I was in the bar last night watching somebody playing on a fruit machine. There were the typical revolving reels with various images on them, though instead of just showing the three front symbols the machine displayed a grid of nine. From what I was able to ascertain you could win not only on rows, but also on the diagonals and through various other combinations I didn’t entirely understand.

In addition there were at least six separate buttons along the base of the machine, all with obscure names, and a second spinning reel mounted above the main three. What struck me most was the total lack of any rules of explanatory diagrams on the machine itself. Instead the entire surface was covered with flashing images and icons labeled with a variety of monetary puns. None of them served to explain the purpose of any of the buttons or the secondary reel.

This total lack of accessibility didn’t stop several people playing over the course of the evening, all of them seemed to either already understand what was required, or not have a problem learning the purpose of the multiple reels and buttons. Of course there is a benefit to learning how to successfully play the fruit machine, if you do so you could potentially win money.

It seems that complicated interfaces are not a problem for people if the rewards for mastery are valuable enough. Players will be willing to learn a complicated interface if they believe what they get out of the game is worth more than what they put in.

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