Quiz machine


Quiz machine

Quiz Machine is a term used in the UK for commercial coin operated video quiz games that offer cash prizes for winning performances. These machines are usually found sited in pubs, bars and other places of entertainment. The term quiz machine is often used interchangeably with the trade term SWP ("Skill With Prizes") although not all SWP games are quiz based.

History

The quiz machine first appeared on the scene in the UK in 1985. The first such machine was called Quizmaster which was made by the Cardiff based now defunct Coinmaster Ltd. This was rapidly followed by quiz machines from other manufacturers.

Over the following years quiz machines/SWP's became a regular feature of the British pub. Leading SWP manufacturers of the 1980s and 1990s were: Coinmaster, JPM, Barcrest, Bell-Fruit, Maygay and Ace-Coin. The themes of many SWP games were (and still are) based on popular TV quiz shows, board games or other aspects of popular culture.

Initially quiz machines were 20p play offering a £10 maximum prize per play. This was increased to £12 in 1988 and £20 around 1991. Appearing in 1994 JPM's Monopoly SWP was the first 50p play machine. It was also the first machine to use touch screen technology instead of buttons.

In the late 1990s a few quiz machines/SWPs offered £40 jackpots. Although many new quiz machines during this period actually offered lower jackpot prizes such as £5, and had gameplays and payout structures that seemed designed to frustrate professional players. This approach however seemed to make the games less interesting for all players. In 2000 the quiz machine market did find new life however with the arrival of the highly popular Who Wants To Be A Millionaire quiz machine.

Professional Quiz Machine Players

The arrival on the scene in 1985 of SWP/quiz machines quickly led to the existence of a cohort of professional and semi-professional players. These were people who became highly skilled on particular games being able learn and memorise nearly entire questions sets for a particular machine. They could then make substantial incomes from touring many different quiz machine locations and extracting money from the particular types of machine in which they were skilled.

Over the years the size of quiz machine question sets has steadily increased, with the extensive use of "spoiler" questions to make large multiple wins difficult or impossible. Since the mid-1990s gameplay formats have also become a lot less "Pro" friendly. Today it is still possible for very skilled players to make worthwhile money playing SWPs but it is much harder than in the past.

The Quiz Machine/SWP Today

A fundamental change occurred in the nature of SWPs in the early 2000s. Single games in stand-alone cabinets were discontinued and replaced by multi-game terminals. Some of these can run a choice of up to 25-30 different games on the same machine. Some are also able to provide services other than gaming. These units can be managed and updated remotely through an ISDN or ADSL network connection.

Leading multigame terminals and their manufacturers at present are:

* itbox made by Maygay Ltd and used exclusively by Leisure Link
* Paragon made by Games Warehouse
* FatBox Slim made by Fat Spanner
* Ind:e and Indego made by GamesMedia/Channel1
* Gamesnet made by GamesTec

Today most SWP/quiz machine games offer a nominal £20 jackpot for 50p play and a few offer £40 for £1 play. But on present day games the payout is carefully controlled and manipulated by the software. Payout levels are set at lower levels than previously.

See also

* Slot machine

References

* How to Develop a Perfect Memory - Dominic O'Brien, Pavilion Books 1993


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