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The Allure of Ancient Eygpt

Posted by THEPOGG on Jan 04, 2019

What is it about Ancient Egypt that draws slots developers like Pharaohs to gold? After some thorough exploration, I have yet to find a single slots company without their hands bound in the sarcophagus. I counted well over 20 Egyptian themed games released in 2018, only counting the most notable software developers.

Something or other Ra

Tut ‘n Something

Cleopatra something something something

Pharos’ something

Something involving the Nile

The Ark of the something

The number of somethings we could add to this list is would be excessive, and that’s without us even mentioning Anubis, Pyramids, Mummies and eh, Egypt…

Barely a month goes by without me having to sit down and plough my way through at least one Egyptian themed game. The problem with such an abundance of one particular type of game? Not only do a lot of them suck, but it is rare for me to stumble across anything I haven’t seen before. This leads to a lack of patience on my part and lower scores than is likely warranted. The one assurance you should have is that if we say an Egyptian themed game is awesome, it will be. If we say this is unlike anything we’ve seen before, then the ingenuity meter will be wigging out at 10.

I ask again, why? Why Egypt and not Greece? Why do the Romans not get the same coverage? Or the Celts, Vikings and Incans? Why do we find ourselves floating down the Nile, whilst the Amazon gets ignored? What makes the Pyramids so much better than China’s Great Wall or the views from Machu Picchu?

Any answers I give will be as thoroughly researched as anyone else’s with surface knowledge of Ancient Egypt and access to Wikipedia. Everything I know or have just learned about Ancient Egypt will be adequately applied to what I already know about slots games, leaving both you and me with a list of reasons that may or may not be convincing enough to answer the question.

Then, once I’ve (sort of) done that, I’ll be bringing you ThePogg’s most conclusive list of the best Egyptian themed games out there. There will be 10 games and each of them will have scored a minimum of 7 out of 10 on initial review. The only motive behind the list will be to find you be best slots games that Ancient Egypt has to offer.

Without any further stalling, here are the reason’s why we at ThePogg think that Ancient Egypt holds such a warm place in the hearts of slots designers all over the world:

Really Ancient

Let’s start with that word “ancient”. Egyptian “ancient” is about as ancient as old stuff gets. If you want to know just how ancient then check out this startling piece of trivia that someone much more qualified than me left on the internet:


We are closer in years to the time that Cleopatra ruled Egypt than she was to the time that Ancient Egypt was formed.

Let that sink in for a minute… Shakespeare wrote about her dalliances with Big Tony over 1600 years after her death. And let’s not forget that Shakespeare is so old that his writing can now be used as an effective form of torture for young people across the world.

Ancient Egypt existed for a thousand years longer than Christianity has. In fact, Ancient Egypt existed longer than the entirety of what we would now call Western civilisation.

The Ancient Greeks were nothing but young upstarts compared to the Egyptians, who had been kicking back beside on the banks of the Nile since 3100 BC. Something that old brings a level of intrigue (like watching your nan try to send a text message) that makes Ancient Egypt seem almost alien. It is so old and yet it was so advanced that it doesn’t tie in with our views of the past. Here in the west we were still figuring out how to turn mud into plates and living in houses that were little more than holes in the ground, whilst the Ancient Egyptians were building their pyramids and dining out on the plenty of their advanced farming techniques.

Part of the allure has evolved along with our own imaginations, spurred on by some Hollywood magic. An ancient world more advanced than many of the civilisations that would rise thousands of years into the future. To go back into ancient Egypt was the future. They messed with our perceptions of history and then we messed our perceptions of them. How could they have possibly built those pyramids with nothing more than the back-breaking sweat of slavery? Someone call shenanigans. Get Mulder and Scully on the case.

This version of Egypt, one of mystery, adventure and really old stuff that was actually really advanced has been exploited by some of the biggest names in Hollywood. From Lucas and Spielberg to Brendan Fraser, Tom Cruise and Gerard Butler (shame on you Gerard!). Hollywood’s imagination has been grabbed by the public and the appeal has seen it make its way into the gambling industry. Ancient Egypt is a world that is old enough for us to both know and to apply some poetic licence, making it the perfect backdrop for any form of 21st century entertainment.

Gold

Ancient Egypt might be really old but that is still not enough of an explanation for the industry’s obsession with it. Our next port of call along the Nile is with something that is at the centre of every single gambling venture since the beginning of gambling ventures: cash.

Ancient Egypt was extremely wealthy. A short 800-mile trip down the Nile and Egyptians could find stacks of gold in “them there hills”. The gold mined from Nubia was used to build an empire that shone like the sun god Ra. Gold was easy to mould and unlike other metals it did not discolour over time. So, not only did it fill the country with rivers of bling, gold also had some practical use.

5000 years down the line, not much has changed really. Gold means you’ve made it. Gold means you’ve worked hard or got lucky. Gold means you’ve got the power to know and that you’re indestructible. When you spin those reels you only want to see one type of coin cascading down the screen in front of you, and when you do, it’s jackpot time.

Along with the obvious riches we associate with gold, comes the colour. A colour that matches the sand, the statues, the buildings, the people and the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. Like the greenery a dancing leprechaun brings, the colour scheme for an Egyptian slots game is already assigned. Designers know what it needs to look like, what palate they should be exploring.

The golden tomb of Tutankhamun was one of the few not to be robbed by other ancient civilisations and was instead appropriated by a modern one, the British Empire. That discovery has fired the imagination of writers and filmmakers for decades, with the chance that we might have missed more of that ancient bounty. In a game where you need to unearth hidden jackpots and prizes, what better association than the golden tombs of Egypt’s long dead rulers?

Gods Hieroglyphics and Symbols

Gods are aplenty. Over 2000 in total. If there was a thing, there was a god to go with it. Mummification is a thing, and Anubis is its god. The sky is a thing and Horus is its god. Virility is a thing, a thing we’ve always been obsessed with and back then they celebrated it by having countless numbers of virile gods. Thing = God. God = Symbol in a slots game. Ra and Anubis are the staples but for all the other symbols there are lots to choose from.

And then you have hieroglyphics to make up the rest of the symbols. No thought is required, the symbols come pre-loaded, ready to hit those reels without designers having to sit and agonise over what they should use.

In short: Egypt is easy!

Mummies and Tombs

And when you thought it couldn’t get any easier along come the tombs. If you were important you were given everything you might need to take with you over to the other side. You were embalmed and preserved so that you remained perfect for the next life. Those tombs, laden with gold make for the perfect bonus feature. Chests and sarcophaguses await you in those special parts of the game. Find the gold, avoid the mummy and there you have it, a bonus game pre-packaged, ready to go, no thought required.

For designers who don’t want to think but want a bonus feature, Ancient Egypt makes it a walk in the park. What becomes difficult is finding a way to create bonus features that stand out. Paradoxically, it is the ease with which an Egyptian game falls into place that makes it so hard to come up with something innovative. For the software developers who want to stand out from the crowd, Ancient Egypt actually offers more headaches than it does solutions.

The Pyramids, The Nile and the Sphinx

Then you have to choose what significant features of Egyptian landscape to include in your game’s background.

Do you choose the Nile? Egypt’s life source. Without it, there is no Ancient Egypt. A god itself, the great river made for perfect living conditions. It is a slow-moving river, presenting a calmness epitomising what it meant to be an Egyptian. Pharaohs were expected to take on its characteristics; cool, calm and central to everything in the land they resided over.

The banks of the river were the perfect farming environment, allowing Egypt to store vast quantities of food, which meant that more time could be spent building, exploring and conquering other territories. No Nile. No nothing.

Then there’s the Pyramids, the last of the ancient wonders of the world left standing. Giant tombs built to house dead Pharos. Monuments to ingenuity and slave-labour, they are an icon of the country and its history and make the perfect background to any slots game that uses the theme.

At the end of the day, you are more likely to see the Pyramids or the Sphinx than the Nile, but there are a few games out there that like to get them all in. The point is that, like so many other elements that need to be considered, when creating an Egyptian themed slots game there are obvious backgrounds to use. Again, Ancient Egypt is just so much easier than just about any other theme I can think of.

The Curse of the Pharaohs

The great thing about Egyptian themed slots games is that most of the work is already done for the developers. They don’t need to think about the colours that they’ll use. They don’t need to think about the icons or the backgrounds that they’ll create. The bonus features are handed to them on a plate. Egypt is golden. It’s rich. It’s everything you want to associate with winning big bundles of cash.

Egypt is old, mysterious and full of an ancient wonder that we don’t fully understand. It is action and adventure. It is style and substance all rolled perfectly into one. It is bonus features and symbols without a single set of braincells needing rubbed together.

And yet, it is hard, oh so hard to take all of that obvious stuff and turn them into something that outshines every other Egyptian themed slots game out there.

Other themes can be different enough to allow the game to stand out. Something that has never been done before doesn’t need as much time spent on the bonuses and symbols. For Ancient Egypt to be good, it has to be very good. Our expectations will always be higher because there is so much to sift through.

That is the Pharaohs’ Curse that all slots developers must try to overcome if they are going to create a memorable game about the world’s most ancient civilisation.

Coming Up…

In the second instalment of our Ancient Egyptian odyssey we’ll be looking at 10 of the best Egyptian themed slots games out there.

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