How to Play a Free Addicting Slot Game

Spend any amount of time exploring your smartphone’s app store, and it is almost certain you will come across casino-style games that are both free to play yet potentially addictive – many designed following similar principles as slot machines.

No wonder people become hooked on these games: they offer fast action with plenty of attention-grabbing rewards. In addition, these games are designed to keep you playing by rewarding you with smaller wins that feel like jackpots; this constant reinforcement makes it hard to stop playing and is one of the primary components of addiction (as we shall explore further below).

Natasha Schull is an associate professor at MIT who has dedicated 15 years to studying slot machines. In her book Addiction by Design: Machine Gaming in Las Vegas she details how the industry applies psychological knowledge in making these games addictive. We spoke with Natasha about this subject matter.

These games rely on many of the same psychological principles that drive addiction in drugs or alcohol, including tension and release as demonstrated by B.F. Skinner in his classic experiment using pigeons and a lever-pressing box. Each time they pushed the lever they expected a reward in form of food pellets; when this occurred they found release and continued pushing it.