QUA 26 DE JUNHO DE 2019 - 12:48hs.
Raul Tabajara, leader of 3D team, Ortiz Gaming

Brazilian Game Developers need to start talking about Gambling

Raul Tabajara works on creating games for casinos in Latin America and Europe. In Brazil he became known as one of the founders of Carranca Games. In this column, describes his important experience as a designer in the market. 'It was a huge surprise to realize how big and full of possibilities it is. Unfortunately, Brazil still lives in a cloak that prefers to praise the harms of Gambling instead of bringing the discussion into the light of day,' he says.

Just one year ago I started working with Gambling, creating Amusement with prize games for casinos and gaming houses in Europe and Latin America. And in the meantime, besides devoting myself to my tasks related to my own work, I studied a lot about this market. After all, despite having completed 20 years working with illustration, animation and Games, I am Brazilian, and because in Brazil these games are prohibited, neither in college or in specialized websites I heard any reference on the subject. So, I had never imagined being part of that market and it was a huge surprise to realize how big it is and full of possibilities.

But before I start to talk about my experience and raise the voice for a healthy discussion on the subject, we'd better start with some important definitions:

Gambling is one of those words without a direct translation, but its concept is easy to understand: Gambling is the gaming market that pays cash to its successful participants. But let's not confuse Gambling, which is the name of the market, which contains a range of products and possibilities, with "games of chance" which is one of the categories of Gambling, and which in Brazil suffers from a great lack of information on the subject.

Games of chance are those whose winners do not need any skills to win or lose. The result of the game is linked to the chance of the dice, to the draw of the numbers and everything is decided through variables that the player does not control.

Although it seems that "games of chance" is a pejorative form to refer to gaming, the process was the opposite: they made the word CHANCE in something bad, because of the games.

"Azar" comes from "Zahar", which is the name of a flower that is born in the Middle East. Such a flower was used long ago in dice games. The number 12 of the dice (a dodecahedron) was the drawing of this flower and whoever managed to put the face of the flower up in a move, won. Over time "Game of Zahar" became synonymous with casual games that existed in that time and its pronunciation was changing until arriving in "Games of Chance". In Arabic and most Latin languages, "Chance" is not the opposite of "Luck". Azar means "randomness / chance". Thus, Gambling is a game whose player does not control the outcome, and can make money if successful.

But many types of games, including skill games, can be part of the Gambling market. One example is Poker. Today poker is recognized worldwide by various institutions as a "game of mind" alongside games like chess or GO. But within its rules there is in poker the moment of the bet, and this makes it a game within the Gambling market.

Gambling laws generally have a first division: digital games or not, and this first division already generates specific laws for each side.

As my area is the production of digital games, I can speak well of the sub division of this first group:

 Video lotery with prize: games where the user just pound a lever or press a single button and the math in the core of the game does the rest. It is the case of Slot Machines, where the player clicks and just watch the roulette of each vertical line spin and if it makes a certain sequence he wins. Video lotery can have countless variations. It can be a "scratch card", it can be to open a glass between 5 and see what is below (without seeing them be previously shuffled) or it may be to choose a number and hope that it is drawn. Here we talk about gambling.
 Video amusement with prize: games that start with a lotery, but the player has the possibility to continue the game by analyzing the first result. Eg: A machine where dice are played. You need to take the numbering of 15 to win by throwing two 6-sided dice twice and adding up your results. You play a first time and have the result of 10. The machine then asks: Do you want to pay more "X" and play the dice again? This way the player has a chance to statistically analyze the game and decide to continue. This also happens on roller machines when the machine is programmed to let the player choose to rotate one of the vertical lines again by a second payment. There is also the example of Video Bingo machines, where the player can first choose the numbers of his card, then say the value of the bet, then ask for the draw of maybe 40 balls and then pay for extra draws, if you analyze the statistics of the fills of his card. Thus, in this category the player has a minimum of interaction with the machine and can use his own statistical calculations to continue playing. Here are also the Video Pokers.

Skill based games with prize: games where the user uses his skill to win. The examples are simple: the vast majority of console games. You understand the rule of the game and your ability to handle events will make the player win or not. There is no draw form involved.

Video Bet: When an artificial intelligence controls the game and you bet on whether it will succeed or not, just as a player can bet on a game result. Here also enter the bets made for teams and eSports when made in terminals or applications suitable for this.
So we can conclude that any game can become a gambling game, its just reward being money, and in that way we can imagine just how comprehensive and fertile this space can be.

A market with new possibilities of art and technology.

It's true that all the old media never die when the new ones arrive ... Although I have joked that "rollers are the old people's casino game" they have been going through a rigorous process of transformation, in form and content. Just like in consoles games, large IPs are applied to these games, so one of the most recent roller hits is the "Game of Thrones" machine, which in addition to the theme is played on a high definition, vertical screen with almost 2 meters.

Another renovation was the digitization of turf games (horse races and dogs). Dog racing often even harasses animals and has a number of NGOs struggling against ... But this company decided to digitally model the racing dogs and using a super advanced artificial intelligence system, equipped each of the models with a unique personality.

Every virtual dog knows how to run, create new strategies and learn from their mistakes. Thus, when entering a casino and looking at a turf monitor, the bettor can choose a horse or a virtual dog and place a bet.

The artificial intelligence of this game has its code open to government regulators, so the gambler can rest assured: each dog has a name, and that Artificial Intelligence will not be used on another dog. The bet is placed on the dog that the player trusts to watch their races, or on the one who has been demonstrating recovery skills and can win in the next competition. But wait a minute ...

DOG? Okay, do not take too long. I would love to be with my friends in a casino bar, sipping my orange juice, eating a barbecue, talking about the common nonsense of a social gathering while on a turf screen running, REALTIME where the competitors are the kangaroo Taum Taum of Star Wars, the Final Fantasy Chocobo ostrich and Jurassic Park velociraptor ... I'd bet on velociraptor! And here I am thinking: how many themes can this system have and how many jobs for artists this can not generate, after all, each casino bar can have its turf system without having to have a mega race track attached to the side, and the races, in realtime, can happen at any moment without mistreating the poor dog runners.

What about Brazil?

Around the world casinos are no longer "a place of perdition with vicious people". The world of business and money understands that social gatherings give a lot more money than a compulsive gambler: it's best if a group of friends comes back and understands that bar as a nice place to play than a person who spends everything and never comes back.

That is why today, in Las Vegas, for example, ONLY 30% of the profit comes from the Gambling market. The rest comes from satellite opportunities: live shows, restaurants, meeting rooms, theater, cinema, corporate events, hotels, parks experiences ... to sum up, a lot of entertainment and salutary amusements, beyond the controversial gambling world.

Sadly, Brazil still lives in a cloak that prefers to elevate the mischief of Gambling instead of bringing the discussion into the light of day, and we, Brazilians Game Designer, need to start being part of this discussion, which is currently only in the deputies' chambers and the Senate.

It is a fact that there are several reasons to be against Gambling, but as much as to be in favor. So I will leave to the next text the subject of legislation, the pros and cons of this market in Brazil.

Raul Tabajara

Raul Tabajara works with Gambling and creates games for casinos in Latin America and Europe. In Brazil he became known in the games area for being one of the founders of Carranca Games, a game company that gained international recognition and published titles for public gamer and advergames. He creates 3D Art for animations (concept, modeling), Scripts for Rigging of Characters (MEL, Python), and coordinates the 3d art team (Instruction and Project Management).