This article discusses how noise is used in casino games. The noise discussed isn’t noise in the sense of sounds and level of volume, but rather statistical noise, that is to say what is sometimes referred to as statistical noise. Noise in this sense is a potentially novel concept to readers, so for this reason, let’s start by defining some of the core concepts relating to it.
What Is Noise?
Noise in the statistical sense discussed throughout this article is essentially synonymous with a concept called fraction of variance unexplained
, or FVU for short. When modeling a complex system or seeking to predict the behaviour of a variable given a predictor, such as how fast a vehicle travels depending on the amount of fuel used for example, any variation which is not mathematically predicted by the model forms the FVU. So in the example of using increasing amounts of fuel to power a vehicle and measuring how fast it moves, other factors might also affect the results, such as what surface it is driving on, the flatness of the surface on which it is driving, the ambient temperature, etc.
All these other factors that may affect a variable beyond the predictor being measured can be described as noise. They cause fluctuations to experimental results, minor changes to predicted outcomes, etc., and are often treated as if they were random variation simply for ease of avoiding to calculate or control for everything. Treating them as essentially random implies the assumption that whatever patterns arising from these other factors will essentially cancel each other out if multiple experiments or observations are made - because their effects will be randomly distributed across a certain range.
Different Kinds Of Noise
Interestingly, however, the pattern with which that random variation is distributed across a range can vary from case to case, and for this reason noise is described as belonging to a particular kind, usually described by a colour. The reason colours are used is due to the resulting colour that is produced when a particular shaped distribution is painted along the visible band of light. Although interestingly, coloured noise also has distinctive sounds
The most common colour used to describe noise is one that you have probably encountered before - white. White is the colour created when you create a random distribution across the visible band of light - so white noise is the kind of random variation that is distributed equally across a range, and this is what most folks think of as default in terms of statistical noise.
But sometimes the distribution of randomness is semi-predictable - in other words, while we don’t know exactly what is causing it or how it is appearing (hence its effects appear random), we do know roughly in what interval it will appear. This brings us to two other kinds of noise - brown noise and pink noise. Brown noise is randomness that is expected to be similar to the current or base state, but may vary slightly - its name owes partly to the colour band and partly to its similarity to Brownian motion
. Pink noise is randomness that is usually expected to be similar to the current or base state but may now and then produce a hugely different outcome, akin to the notion of a Black Swan event.
How Noise Is Used In Casino Games
Now that we know what is meant by statistical noise, let’s consider how they might be used in casino games. A great game to use as an example are Megaways online slot machines. Their design incorporates elements of white, brown and pink noise, each used to generate a particular kind of randomness. Megaways slots feature six reels with up to seven symbols per reel, which are spinned to generate randomly as players interact with them. This is a perfect example of white noise - the distribution of the emerging symbols is random and equally distributed among all symbols. The resulting experience is one of excitement and anticipation as the player simply does not know what to expect.
But Megaways slots also use brown noise in at least one or two ways. One way in which brown noise is introduced is by allowing players to freeze or lock certain symbols to “save” them for the next reel. This centers newly produced randomness closer to the current state, essentially creating brown noise. Another way in which this is achieved is in certain Megaways slots allowing the jackpot prize to periodically incrementally increase by chance as the player progresses through the game. This random but incremental directed shift is a perfect example of brown noise, which in the context of casino games is used to provide a player with an experience of directionality in their game towards greater winnings.
Finally, Megaways slots also use pink noise in their meta-design. The holistic experience of the game is one of small continuous winnings interrupted by occasional huge wins. This distribution of random outcomes is a great example of pink noise - most of the time within a small expected interval but with infrequent and notable exceptions! The resulting player experience feeds into the exhilaration of the game, as those big but rare events are what everyone hopes to achieve!
Statistical noise can be used in different ways to inform casino game design and each one translates into a particular experience in the psyche of players. The most successful games, such as Megaways slots, employ a mixture of different kinds of noise to synergistically create a fun engagement.