In the past two days I’ve been exposed to two different shows addressing slot machines. The first one was episode 78 of 99% Invisible in which they explore some of the history and psychology behind the common slot machine.

This is the first gambling-related post I’ve made and I’m usually hesitant to cover gambling issues as most time this issue comes up there is a poorly-framed debate on gambling versus other types of gaming. Still, the way the shows below talk about what they are doing with slot machines is fascinating and there are indeed similarities to other kinds of game design.

Like most things, it’s all about pattern recognition and flow.

The guest on the episode was Natasha Dow Schüll, and here is one of her talks:

The second show was from Cool Hunting and it’s a nice short video on game design from Bally Technologies.

Cool Hunting Video Presents: Bally Technologies from Cool Hunting on Vimeo.

From the video description:

Slot machines—games of purely random chance—are often seen as mechanical gambling devices and not much more. During a visit to Las Vegas, Nevada we got the opportunity to dig a little deeper with Bally Technologies’ Director of Game Development, Brett Jackson. He gave us some insight into the surprisingly complex innovation, psychology and design behind the slot machines that illuminate so many casino floors.