A gripping, insightful, and poignant analysis of the psychological power of machine gambling, read through the lens of an extraordinary collection of narratives and theoretical sources. Schull illuminates the multiple, intersecting logics of the industry as a sociotechnical assemblage, showing how casino design, gambling machines, and gamblers are drawn together into a kind of integrated circuit aimed at maximizing the gamblers' entrainment and the industry's profits. -- Lucy A. Suchman, author of "Human-Machine Reconfigurations" Addiction by Design is an extremely enlightening ethnographic account of a little-studied form of gambling. The ethnography is rich and deep, shedding original light on the significance of addiction and gambling in American culture. Schull offers a provocative and important study of the imperative some people feel to lose themselves in a machine. The story told in the book is absolutely riveting. -- Emily Martin, author of "Bipolar Expeditions"
Acknowledgments vii Note on Informant Anonymity xiii Introduction: Mapping the Machine Zone 1 Part One: Design 1. Interior Design for Interior States: Architecture, Ambience, and Affect 35 2. Engineering Experience: The Productive Economy of Player- Centric Design 52 3. Programming Chance: The Calculation of Enchantment 76 Part Two: Feedback 4. Matching the Market: Innovation, Intensification, Habituation 107 5. Live Data: Tracking Players, Guiding Play 137 6. Perfect Contingency: From Control to Compulsion 166 Part Three: Addiction 7. Gambled Away: Liquidating Life 189 8. Overdrive: Chasing Loss, Playing to Extinction 210 Part Four: Adjustment 9. Balancing Acts: The Double Bind of Therapeutics 239 10. Fix upon Fix: Recipes for Regulating Risk 257 Conclusion: Raising the Stakes 290 Notes 311 References 385 Index 42
Natasha Dow Schull is associate professor in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Winner of the 2013 Sharon Stephens First Book Prize, American Ethnological Society Honorable Mention for the 2013 Gregory Bateson Prize, The Society for Cultural Anthropology "Natasha Dow Schull, an anthropologist at MIT, has written a timely book. Ms Schull has spent two decades studying the boom in casino gambling: the layout of its properties, the addicts and problem gamblers who account for roughly half its revenue in some places, and the engineering that goes into its most sophisticated products. Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas reads like a combination of Scientific American's number puzzles and the 'blue Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous."--Christopher Caldwell, Financial Times "Addiction by Design is a nonfiction page-turner. A richly detailed account of the particulars of video gaming addiction, worth reading for the excellence of the ethnographic narrative alone, it is also an empirically rigorous examination of users, designers, and objects that deepens practical and philosophical questions about the capacities of players interacting with machines designed to entrance them."--Laura Noren, PublicBooks "Schull adds greatly to the scholarly literature on problem gambling with this well-written book... Applying an anthropological perspective, the author focuses especially on the Las Vegas gambling industry, seeing many of today's avid machine gamblers as less preoccupied with winning than with maintaining themselves in the game, playing for as long as possible, and entering into a trance-like state of being, totally enmeshed psychologically into gaming and totally removed from the ordinary obligations of everyday life... The book offers a most compelling and vivid picture of this world."--Choice