The visual language of iGaming: An interview with a casino graphic designer

Of all the components that have helped the casino industry thrive in the digital age, you could make a solid case for the graphic game designer being the most integral. The internet has provided a fantastic platform, but without innovative designers constantly working to make games that look and sound better than the games that came beforehand, nowhere near as many people would be attracted to the industry.

You may have heard stories about the ingenious methods these graphic designers use to bring the latest games to your phone. However, have you read a sit-down interview with an actual casino graphic designer who has been instrumental in bringing innovations to millions of gamblers worldwide?

The casino graphic designer we’re featuring today once said: “I have complete faith that the casino graphic designing industry will continue to grow in strength. Our world is moving closer to a mobile-centric environment. Casino graphic design is one of the leading industries pushing this exciting charge forward into fresh, unchartered waters.”

We couldn’t be more excited to pick the brain of one of the top Norwegian casino graphic designers. He is one of the best in the business, and he’s with us today, answering some of the big questions about how the industry works. He will also explain how casino graphic design is becoming a billion-dollar business as a standalone industry sector and how big this flourishing, unique sector could get by the end of this decade. Without further ado, let’s learn more about the casino graphic design industry with one of the best in the business, Are Eirik Nielsen.

Are Eirik Nielsen

Hi, thanks for giving us some time out of your schedule. We really appreciate it. Why don’t you start by providing us with some insight into how graphic designers operate in the casino industry?

“There are many different things graphic designers do in the industry, whether it is designing games and levels or how the music and graphics can interact with specific triggers within the game.”

What is it that you do on a general day-to-day basis?

“I’ve been in this industry for over a decade, so I am well-versed in what works and what doesn’t. That said, I don’t sit on my hands all day and stick to the blueprint of what works. Part of the magic of graphic design is incorporating new ways of working and seeing what works for other people in the sector too.

I keep things interesting by mixing it up with a casino review or two. Even though I enjoy the behind-the-scenes look and tightening the nuts and bolts of the game, so to speak, there’s also great enjoyment when it comes to witnessing how the final product looks and what the end user sees when the design has been fully completed.

I am most proud of my work on Norske Spilleautomater, where we have been able to blend the most innovative computer gaming graphics and immersive casino features to build a product and a website that works.”

Sounds really interesting Are. I imagine no two days are the same. How did you get into that?

“Well, as a graphic designer, I have a passion for improving the display of games. Maybe a decade ago, I noticed that many companies that used graphic designs in their games had flaws. So, I contacted them directly and managed to get a few on board. Once they knew I could improve their sites and, more importantly, improve their customer’s experience, word soon spread, and I was able to turn my passion into a full-time freelance role.

After I’d refined my skills and became one of the top graphic designers within the Norwegian casino graphic design sector, I started bringing my expertise to Norske Spilleautomater with fantastic results, using a specific design on the visual language of iGaming.

However, I still strive every day to get better at what I do, and even though I’ve discovered so much I love about the casino graphic design industry and how I can make the customer experience even better, I also enjoy looking at it from another angle and reviewing games.”

The visual language of iGaming? What does that entail?

“It might sound like a fancy phrase, but it’s relatively simple. Visual language in casino graphic design works as it might in a film or a book; it’s how you bring an image to life to enhance or complement the original design. So, in the world of casino gaming, the best example would be slot machines. However, you can also apply it to blackjack, where you can create certain sounds and graphics that are triggered when you hit a specific number.

In slot machine gaming, you have more at your disposal, so visual language can cover and support the slot’s theme, whether it is fruit, Egyptian, Greek or Irish. I’m adept at designing graphics that work for a wide variety of different slot games.”

So how does the casino industry use graphic design to its advantage?

“The industry is innovative, and I’ve found through my experience that graphic designers are now moving into the sector because of how much money is involved. However, it would be unfair to relegate it just to money. Healthy competition is brewing in the industry, cultivating an atmosphere of ingenuity and innovation at a rapid speed. This is arguably the most vital factor causing so much money to avalanche into research and development in the sector.

We could break it down game by game, but the most considerable advances have been in slot machine gaming. Some people might not realize there are several different types of slot machine games, each requiring a different design.”

In what sense are slot machines a more significant industry for casino graphic designers?

“Let’s look at video poker, for instance, which places more emphasis on the design and look of the game than any other type of casino venture. 3D slots are a brand new, exciting feature all to themselves. As a result, video game designers have frequently used graphic designers for the best projects. I’m sure you know some megamoney projects that have unfolded over the last 20 years in the console gaming sector.

Although this sector is still highly profitable, the scope for profit in the casino industry is much greater, as there’s a potential for these games to generate more money more often. In addition, ensuring that the game’s design is of the utmost premium quality is a lucrative market that requires skill, so it challenges graphic designer skills to the max.”

Is there a trend of more graphic designers moving over from other industries?

“Yes, I’d say so at the minute. The casino industry is riding a wave of looser legislation in colossal markets such as the United States, creating a more lucrative avenue for designers to direct their talents towards casino gaming.

Also, another thing that people may not realize is that these companies are much more prolific, you could be working on a big console game project for a year or two, but slot machine games typically need to be designed and ready to go in short order because the industry is so non-stop. So, the challenges are different but more exhilarating if you seek this type of challenge in your day-to-day role.”

What are the most significant changes you have seen as a casino graphic designer?

“When I started as a freelancer, I could identify areas of casino graphics that needed improving and how to improve them. This used to excite me, and I felt I could change the industry in Norway and help providers deliver a fantastic all-around experience for gamblers at the end of the process.

There are two big things that I would say have changed in the industry over the last decade. Firstly, the number of graphic designers looking to enter the industry has exploded, especially in the past five years.

As the industry experiences the sort of boom we saw in the tech industry in the early 21st century, many incredibly talented graphic designers have decided to switch from whatever industry they’re in to attempt to try their hand at designing unique and new innovations within the sector. The boom you’re witnessing and the incredible, intricate designs in some graphics are a direct result of this.

Secondly, the number of components we now have at our disposal is much larger. Ten years ago, graphic designers worked with a much smaller number of tools. However, as the money has been pumped in and the resource and development sectors have exploded, an avalanche of innovations has again created a fantastic working environment for people like me and also resulted in a better customer experience.”

Well, this has been such an eye-opening insight into a world that is highly discussed but usually not by the experts who drive the innovations within it. We’re so glad to have interviewed you today to find out how the industry looks from the inside and how underrated the work of casino graphic designers has been.

“Thank you so much; being here and fielding your questions was fantastic. Hopefully, we can do it again sometime!”



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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]

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