Thursday 4 July 2013

Understanding slots machine addiction

Slots machines are flashy, produce soothing sounds, flicker and occasionally, a jackpot that is life changing is won. However, just like all good things in life, there is always the negative side.  The negative side is that it can generate slots machine addiction. Psychologists who have studied the effects of slots machine on the mind of the gamblers have concluded that addiction occurs due to a combination of two factors: environmental factors, and through classical conditioning. When the two are perfectly blended, addiction will surely follow. We will analyze the two factors to see how they influence addiction.

Why slots are machines so successful?

Slots machines are one of the most potent machines today. Unlike other machines, they have the power of controlling the user. Slot machines, unlike other machines that are geared to facilitate work by making easier, faster and efficiently, are programmed to meet the objectives of the user by offering rewards.

But how?

To answer this question, it is important to go back to the 19th century when slots machines were purely a work of art and the machines weren’t sophisticated. Slot machines have since changed to incorporate vivid graphics, nice soothing sounds, and interactive choices aimed at making a player thirst for success through well-calculated near misses. In a research done to investigate, the effect of near misses and published by Neuron, fifteen volunteers played slots as their brain activity was monitored in a MRI scans. When the scans were compared, it was observed that near misses had the effect of drawing more blood to the reward regions in the brain such as the ventral striatu. These are the same region in the brain activated by rewards such as cocaine and chocolates.

A report published by Science NOW Daily News states that slot machine markers have perfected on the near-miss effect. The research established that the machines are programmed in a manner that players behaviour is induced to believe that there is a possibility of winning big, but sadly, this rarely happens. It is important to mention how reel stops are effective in maintaining reinforcements. Usually, when the first reel stops on a potential winner, a heightened state of arousal is activated. Symbols located below, and above the pay line unconsciously condition players mind which eventually leads to addiction.
Superstition by players also contributes to addiction. If you have visited a casino before, you probably have witnessed strange behavior by some gamblers when they are playing slots. Such behavior is manifested when: putting money in the coin slots, standing, pulling the slots handle and even rubbing the side of the slots machine. Such behaviors have no influence on the outcome of the game, but in a players mind, such behaviors only work to reinforce the belief of the player that they will win hence slowly the player becomes addicted.

Part played by the environment

Casinos floors have been deliberately designed to attract, and retain gamblers for extended periods. Sounds of bustling players, ringing bells, shouts of joy, and freebies all contribute in influencing players into believing that this is the right place to be.  There is a seemingly uniformity in all the players playing slots, all are interested in achieving the same objective hitting a jackpot. Screams of happiness will be heard whenever a winner is announced, such an environment is the perfect recipe for influencing addiction. A player subconsciously made to believe that it is just a matter of time before he or she is in a state of delirium. To many a player, such a moment is never realized, addiction is the reward.

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