As he launches a new Facebook game with a Wizard of Oz theme, we thought it was time to look back at the work that slot machine wizard Joe Kaminkow has so far contributed to the gaming industry, as it is quite a significant body. He has already been recognised for his work in the glory days of the pinball arcades, having been inducted into the Pinball Hall of Fame in 2004, thanks to games that he created based on titles such as Star Wars and Jurassic Park.
He then worked on slot machine games with popular game makers International Gaming Technology (IGT), and is responsible for many of their most loved machines such as Ghostbusters and Sex and the City. You can certainly count him as one of the most important people in slot machine history, with more than one hundred and fifty patents to his name and a whole slew of different themes and designs. “If you’ve ever gone to Las Vegas and used a slot machine, there is a high probability you’ve played a game I invented,” he says.
It has been a varied career for him, as he has interests in all kinds of directions, having also had a hand in Broadway plays, reality television shows, and even a minor league baseball team. Whatever he does, though, it is always entertainment. “I am so not the norm in the social games industry,” Kaminkow quips. “I don’t come to work on a skateboard. I feel like I am in a Tom Hanks movie where there are these old guys who get together and say ‘Let’s show these young kids how to do it.'”
Along with Gary Stern, Kaminkow was the co-founder of Data East Pinball, which has since changed names a couple of times to Sega Pinball and finally Stern Pinball. He left in 1998 to become Vice President of Product Development for IGT, and since then has contributed hugely to the modern slot machines that we all love to play now that they are available – all thanks to his work in the field.