Addiction by Design: From Slot Machines to Candy Crush

By Ted Murpy -, CC BY 2.0,

Natasha Schüll, M.I.T. Program in Science, Technology, and Society. Addiction by Design: From Slot Machines to Candy Crush.

Slot machines, revamped by ever-more compelling technological innovations, have unseated traditional table games as the gambling industry’s revenue mainstay. Along the way, they have earned such nicknames as “electronic morphine” and the “crack cocaine of gambling.” Does problem machine gambling stem from inside the device, from inside the gambler, or from the interaction between the two? Drawing on fifteen years of research among game engineers and machine gamblers in Las Vegas, Natasha Schüll will take the audience “inside the machine” to explore how contemporary slot machines—their game algorithms, their cash access systems, their ergonomic design—facilitate gamblers’ escape into a trancelike state they call “the zone” in which daily worries, social demands, and even bodily awareness fade away. Co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, the Year of the Humanities, and the DH Lab.