Award Date

August 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Bo Bernhard

Second Committee Member

Simon Gottschalk

Third Committee Member

David Dickens

Fourth Committee Member

Anthony Lucas

Number of Pages



This study looks at the incorporation of video game design and structure into contemporary slot machines. The investigation was guided by theoretical and empirical works from a range of scholarly fields: gambling studies, video-game studies, digital communication, psychology, and sociology. Two methodological designs were employed. The first phase used a content analysis that identified the distribution of video-game styles and design in the most recent slot games on display at a major industry conference. The second phase employed semi-structured interviews with both experienced and inexperienced slot players to assess the impact of different design elements on their playing experience and motivation to play. Findings indicate that current slot machines share some similarities with video game mechanics through the introduction of more complex structure and multiple goals or games within games. Slot machines can resemble the immersive elements video games with the use of sophisticated graphics and sound design as well as the incorporation of complex themes and interactive animated characters. Eight gamblers with experience ranging from novice to highly experience participated in in-depth interviews. The interviews suggest that, like with video game players, some slot players might be more attracted to complex game mechanics in slot machines while other players are more interested in the immersive elements. The implications for the future of slot machine design, the study of slot machine design on problem gambling, and the use of digital space to introduce play into gambling are discussed.


addiction; design; gambling; gaming; slot machine; video games



File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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Sociology Commons