How Slot Machines Use Psychology And Design To Keep You Coming Back

How Slot Machines Use Psychology And Design To Keep You Coming Back

Anyone who has ever walked into a casino has felt the lure of the slot machine. The bright lights, inviting little stools, and the promise of hitting the elusive jackpot are ever-present. It’s hard to avoid, no matter what logic tells you about the terrible odds. This Cool Hunting video shows just how involved the development of those enticing machines can be.

It used to be that you’d pull a lever, watch some numbers and pictures spin, and wait for coins to pop out when you get lucky. But slot machines of the 21st century are of a whole different breed. Bally Technologies‘ Director of Game Development, Brett Jackson explains to Cool Hunting how much thought goes into studying what players react to when they sit down, and how they can be manipulated.

At first it seems quite devious — the level of complexity that goes into keeping customers glued to their chair as they shed dollar bills with only a slight chance of winning big. But this type of practice is inherent to most market ventures. Selling is often about appealing to people’s emotions and desires, whether they are at a slot machine, buying an Apple product or deciding what to drink. [Cool Hunting]

Republished from Gizmodo.


  • I think everyone who writes software for a living needs to think about the social implications of the work they do. You should also speak to Aristocrat games in South Australia who make some of Australia’s most popular slots.

    I’ve always thought of the process behind these machines as using man’s best (our grasp of technology, cognition and human-machine interaction) to do man’s worst; that is to take from people who don’t know any better.

    If the people behind these games would at least release the most popular games, even at cost, to the wider community to play at home, for fake money, and allow them to adjust the percentage return so that they could enjoy the gaming factor, come to understand something of the probability that underlies the payouts and most importantly minimise harm to the wider community, then at least they could have some claim to a legitimate business.

    As it is, such software is kept tightly under lock-and-key, specifically such as to protect the profits that these games make for the clubs and casinos in Australia from problem gamblers. Fact.

    In the long run, I see them as being somewhere about the same, if slightly worse than the alcohol and tobacco industries because at least in the other two, there is no illusion that what they output does have a huge social cost to the community. We’re still to come to that same conclusion about gambling as a society and I think it’s about time that those of us who write software think long and hard about the matter.

    This is from a software engineer who is also from a family with a long lineage of gambling problems.

  • I actually have a ‘system’ for playing these slots. It tips the odds in my favour but after sinking $2 into it I walk away. It won’t win me much but if it pays for lunch I’m happy. Personally it’s a mugs game and your better off aiming at a stock list, if you know how to read stocks, even better! Anyone who sinks more than $20 in a sitting into one of these is a fool in my opinion.

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