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Why musician Steve Aoki decided to make an endless runner game for casinos

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Steve Aoki is a famous electronic dance musician and producer who spends an awful lot of time in Las Vegas. He’s also a gamer, and he is launching Steve Aoki’s Neon Dream, a musical endless runner game that will cater to young people in casinos.

The real-money gambling game will be made by skill-based gambling machine maker GameCo, and it will be on display at next week’s Global Gaming Expo, a gambling industry event in Las Vegas. Both Aoki and GameCo see it as an opportunity to bring millennials into casinos to play something beyond the slot machines that their parents or grandparents play.

Aoki said in an interview with GamesBeat that he played a lot of gigs at game events and made music for games.

“I’ve always been a friend of gamers,” he said.

Above: Steve Aoki’s Neon Dream

Image Credit: GameCo

In October, Aoki invested in his own esports team as he backed Team Rogue, which has professional esports teams playing Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

“I started to see how massive the interest was in esports and how much of an opportunity we have if we broadcast it the right way,” he said. “We can show the rest of the world how big it is, whether you are casual or gaming every day. It’s kind of our generation.”

Steve Aoki’s Neon Dream is scheduled to debut in casinos soon. It is inspired by Aoki’s 2014 album, Neon Future, and its underlying soundscapes.

“Jumping into this and doing something that redefines gaming and gambling is a natural fit, as I live in Vegas and work in nightclubs in the casinos,” he said. “I was definitely excited about this idea.”

As for the kind of game, he said that his favorite mobile games are endless runners. He also thought that playing for stakes — and adding real-money gambling — was always more interesting “so you can win something at the end.” And he wanted it to be a game of skill, where mastery pays off.

“That infinite runner model was part of the vision of what we wanted to do, and I wanted to tie in Neon Future, the concept that I’ve been developing since 2014,” he said. “My next album, Neon Future III, is coming out next year. Music is a big component in my life and a big component in gaming.”

Aoki said he provided concepts and helped develop how the game should look, and he worked with the developers at GameCo.

Above: Steve Aoki plays his Neon Dream game.

Image Credit: GameCo

“We did research on gamers and gamblers, and we saw the trends happening,” said Blaine Graboyes, founder of GameCo, in an interview. “This next generation is going into the casinos but not gambling. They’ve grown up playing video games.”

The first-person game takes players on a transcendental journey, flying over an endless track with lots of colors, shapes, barrier avoidance, and coin collecting. All the while, various house and electronic dance music titles from Aoki’s Dim Mak label will play in the background. Aoki’s most recent album, Steve Aoki Presents Kolony, debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes U.S. electronic chart on July 21.

Graboyes said, “We’re very focused on this business of bringing video games to casinos. Gamers are so stereotyped and under-served. Casinos are the epicenters of the VIP experience. A big part of our thesis is for the casino to provide the hospitality for this next generation of gamers. We see this as the future of the casino, now.”

Graboyes said GameCo will have a couple of stand-up versions of Aoki’s game, as well as a bunch of bar-top games. GameCo has other video game gambling machines on casino floors in Atlantic City and at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. Other GameCo games are based on licenses such as Star Trek, Mission Impossible, and Paranormal. Aoki’s game will debut at the Borgata Hotel & Resort in  Atlantic City.

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