Big Brother Slot Machine
Game design firm Endermol released the Big Brother video slot game in 2011. Inspired by the British reality television show that has been exported to dozens of other countries, the game uses motifs such as cameras, sensational news headlines, and kissing couples to remind players of just why they watched strangers interact on the telly in the first place.
The screen play area is designed to look like a common flat screen high definition television set. You almost want to reach for the remote to adjust the volume or some other setting.
How do you design a slot game around a voyeuristic television show? Endemol relies on symbolic translation of the show's main themes. Not surprisingly, just as there are different versions of the show in many countries, there are different versions of the slot machine game. The details provided below are intended to be generic, not definitive.
About the TV Show
The Big Brother television show is the brain child of Dutch production firm Endemol, the same people who made this slot game. The concept is loosely inspired or freely adapted from George Orwell's dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-four, in which "Big Brother is watching" was an important catch phrase. Orwell's Big Brother was the government spying on its own citizens. Endemol's Big Brother is just the television show and its audience.
Several people are brought together as housemates or house guests in an isolated home. The show's producers assign them tasks. Every week the guests secretly nominate one person to be evicted. Audiences vote on the evictions by telephone, social media, and other means. The show has come to emphasize drama, romance, and secrecy. It also plays with the cultural taboo of spying on your neighbors.
Gameplay Features and Mechanics
Big Brother is a 5-reel, 3-row video slot game with 25 pay lines. Prizes are awarded from left to right and only the highest possible prize per line is paid to the player. The game also features Bronze, Silver, and Gold progressive jackpots. Symbols are based on concepts (such as "watching eyes") or aspects of the show, including cameras, arguing couples, kissing couples, and more.
The game's Wild symbol is the Big Brother emblem, a multicolored eye which substitutes for all other symbols except the Scatter. Any winning combination in which at least one Wild symbol appears pays double the normal prize.
The Scatter symbol is an eye-shaped lens. When three or more Scatter symbols appear one of the random bonus games is triggered. The Scatter symbols pay a prize based on the total wager made.
The game's high value symbols are as follows:
- A camera
- A Jacuzzi
- A pink heart with a kissing couple
- A blue star with an arguing couple
Other symbols include a keyhole, a newspaper, and a picture of two people sharing a secret.
The low value symbols are the usual "A", "K", "Q", and "J".
The game controls are grouped below the television screen and from left to right allow you to configure the number of active pay lines, configure the bet per line, spin the reels, set up an Auto Spin game, and load the pay table screen.
The Pay Lines and Bet Per Line controls both use up and down arrows to adjust the settings.
The Total Stake is computed and displayed between the Bet Per Line and Spin button.
Any prizes you win on a spin are tallied up and displayed between the Spin and Auto Spin buttons.
A status bar just below the television screen, and above the controls, displays tips or describes which pay lines paid a prize and how much.
Triggering the Bonus Round
The Housemate Task Bonus game brings up a screen with nine choices. You pick three tasks and reveal their prizes. You keep the total combined prizes.
The Housemate Hunt Bonus is the free spins bonus game. This bonus starts with a detailed diagram of the Big Brother house. You choose 3 rooms, looking for male and female housemates. Male housemates increase the number of free spins you win for this bonus. Female housemates increase the multiplier that is applied to prizes you win from the free spins.
Depending on which version of the game you play you win 5 free games with a multiplier of 10, 10 free games with a multiplier of 5, 15 free games with a multiplier of 3, or 20 free games with a multiplier of 2. The picks (if your version offers them) increase either or both of these criteria to make the bonus game more rewarding.
The game's graphics are relatively simple. In fact, the game design has a low budget feel to it the way reality television shows do. Some of the symbols are designed in a chrome style. The soundtrack uses synthetic music.
Older versions of the game use simpler graphics.
This game was really designed for die-hard fans of the television show. It does not have much about it that should appeal to hard-core slots enthusiasts. You'll want to play it at least once just so you can say you did.
Estimated return to player is 94.63%, which is not very impressive although better than older slot games.
The pay tables are not well designed or organized. The inconsistencies between different versions of the game make it difficult for even an experienced player to figure out right away which symbols pay the most. The heart should be the best paying symbol.
The progressive jackpots are a nice feature but you don't even see them on the reels. At least one non-progressive version of the game exists.
Seriously, if the best thing you can say about a slot machine game is that it is better than older slot machine games, something must be missing. This will probably not make it to your list of top ten slot machines to play before you die.
And US players who are curious about the game will have to wait. The software blocks you based on IP address.