What is the mystique of the one-armed bandit? What is it about it that makes us keep hitting the button and hanging on to see what the next spin will bring? Although it’s pretty common knowledge that there are better ways to beat the house, this is the one game that makes players go on and on and come back for more. Why?
As casino players, even though slot machines take up a lot of our play time, it seems that we never took the time to unveil the mystery of their appeal. Let’s take a closer look at this game and the interaction we experience during play.
Whenever we try to crack the secret behind the success of a certain product, company, or individual, we usually look for a rational reason. For example, a chain store succeeds because to low prices, a car becomes popular for its performance and safety (and price of course), and blackjack games are well liked because the players can significantly improve their winnings with strategy.
But when it comes to slots, it looks like there is no rational foundation to its mass popularity: The only game strategy we know is based on quitting while you’re ahead, the payoff percentages are lower than table games and video poker games, and sometimes we get too lazy to click that button every few seconds! So… what’s the secret?
It’s not about rational well thought out logic. It’s about the experience of the game that takes us back to a more impulsive and self-indulging time, back when we used to spend most of our day just playing around and having fun.
How can playing online slots for real money take us back to that happy place? After watching many players in brick and mortar casinos from around the world, I can say that the slot machine experience is based on three factors – psychological, physical, and emotional. Those factors combine into a unique event that doesn’t happen in other casino games. We can find any of these factors in other games, but not together.
Slots are Psychological
Slot machines require very (and I mean very) little thought. It’s brain therapy, or a mental massage if you like, to clear our mind of all our grown-up worries. No card counting, no calculations, no rules, no fuss, just pure fun and games. Here we simply roll with it, play it out as it comes, as careless as we want. And then we win (with little effort on our side, let’s admit it…) and suddenly the machine congratulates us in all sorts of cool ways like getting applause or even a bow from a character in the game, complete with horns, confetti, fireworks, or whatever the designers thought of. Well, you never see a dealer clapping you on a nice bet in a table game, and it sure is nice to feel appreciated…
Slots are Physical (unless they’re online)
In an offline casino, slot machines are pretty much the only game where the players dominate the game without the interference of a dealer, other players, or anyone to remind us that we’re grown ups. This also helps us feel in control over the machine and the main cause of endless superstitions regarding the right way to tilt the bandit’s arm or hitting the button. In online casinos, video slots are the most colorful and imaginative games, with funny themes and amazing graphics that make our senses come alive, just like the old video games we grew up with. And when you win it gets even more dazzling, and everybody likes pretty moving pictures. Isn’t that why they invented television?
Slots are Emotional
Playing slot games brings to the surface all our secret beliefs about luck and fate. Specifically because this is the most random game, we tend to project our feelings and superstitions on the outcome, and ascribe all kind of mystical meanings to our winnings. And let’s not forget the jackpot. Blackjack makes us work hard for our money, but the slot machine is just waiting to pour its fortune on us in one big bang. In a single spin of a slot you can earn increase your money ten times and much more than that, and even multiply your bet 10000 times! And you can win several times in one play session. Knowing in our hearts that we’re lucky, having this dream to strike it big so at hand – this wish and this thrill, these are the fuels that keep us running.
Should it really matter why slots are so compelling? After all it’s the freedom that the game offers us that makes it so alluring; The freedom of play, the freedom to dream, and of course, the kind of freedom only winning a huge jackpot can give.