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The Gaming Hall of Fame

2017 Inductee

Joe Kaminkow

Joe Kaminkow

Industry Leader


Joe Kaminkow (b. 19??) is an innovative game designer

Kaminkow became a legend in designing slot machines when he led the industry to develop slot games tied with licensing brands from movies, TV shows, quiz shows and even personalities. His works have become some of the most successful and much-loved games on the casino floor including Wheel of FortuneSex and the City, and more recentlyGame of Thrones and Britney Spears. Kaminkow began his career at IGT and has made a reputation pushing the envelope on art, math and style-making, as he says, "little movies" out of slot machines. Seeing the future of internet gaming on the horizon, Kaminkow founded his own online social gaming company before being tapped by Aristocrat to bring his games to the casino floors, and create thrilling gaming experiences with extraordinary content and new-age cabinets. Kaminkow also lends his gaming expertise to the free-to-play social slots industry. He is currently Chief Game Designer and Senior Vice President of Casino Games for mobile game developer Zynga, and the original creator of the company’s social slot machine games Hit It Rich! Slots and Wizard of Oz Slots.

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"Kaminkow grew up in Maryland, where his father worked in commercial distribution for companies including General Vending and Bally. After graduating from Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts, with a business and political science degree, Joe started a game development business called Logical Highs, and joined Williams Electronics to learn the ropes. Though his first game was the overlooked Defender, Joe quickly rose to prominence when he secured licensing rights from NASA that led to Williams' 1984 smash hit Space Shuttle. He left Williams soon afterward and briefly joined Game Plan, where he met Gary Stern, son of Stern Electronics' President Sam Stern.

Seeing a resurgence in pinball games in the mid-eighties, Joe and Gary started their own company in November 1986. After their proposal was rejected by Konami, the two found a receptive audience at Data East, who wanted to expand beyond video games. Though Data East Pinball started with original titles like Laser War and Secret Service, Joe rapidly leveraged his talents at securing licenses, resulting in a flurry of Licensed Pinball Tables such as RoboCopBack to the FutureThe SimpsonsTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesStar Trek, and Lethal Weapon 3. When Data East Pinball was bought out by Sega, Joe remained as Executive Vice President of Game Design, supervising parts, productions, and licensees.

Joe Kaminkow left arcade gaming in 1999 to join International Game Technology, where he revolutionized slot machines by the extensive use of licensed titles. He also co-founded Spooky Cool Labs, a subdivision of Zynga that designs social games for casino gaming and the Internet. Joe is also a founder of Back Lot Tour Productions, a studio specializing in Game Showsand Reality TV programs, and joined slot machine manufacturer Aristocrat Technologies in February 2013.

Joe Kaminkow was inducted into the Pinball Hall of Fame in 2004, and has been named one of the top ten most important people in the history of casino gaming.

He's renowned for being unabashedly zealous and over-the-top — he arranged for a man in a chicken costume carrying balloons to appear for an introduction of his friend and mentor Ed Cebula, and one of his first acts after joining Aristocrat Technologies was to give everyone in his department the title of game designer."

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Last modified Friday, 08-Apr-2022 11:31:07 PDT



This page last updated Friday, 08-Apr-2022 11:31:07 PDT .