Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 9

Slot Machines and Player’s Memories: A Return to Eden Slot machines are the most populär o f all casino games, taking up roughly three quarters of a casino floor, and accounting for 70% to 80 % o f all profit in a typical casino (Previtti). The house advantage, or predetermined profit margin, for slot machines is tremendous— table game players would consider it ridiculous— and yet people get on buses or planes daily and ride hundreds or even thousands o f miles in Order to play them. So why do so many people play? The answer is that slot machines offer players other than monetary rewards. Common wisdom holds that slots have traditionally been marketed to Baby Boomers; according to an article on Caesar’s Entertainment at Vegaslnc.com, “Baby Boomers entering or exiting their peak spending years, including retirees with more time in which to spend their nest eggs, have long defined the growth and entertainment offerings along [the] Strip.” At the same time, however, the rewards slot machines offer to players are unique in the expectations they produce in a gambler’s mind. Many recently introduced games induce the 40-, 50-, or 60-something gambler to reach back into his memories for happier times, and then strive to keep him there. Slot machine designers and marketers have come to depend upon images that predominated in the books, television shows and movies shown to children in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The machines present a dazzling array o f characters and themes, from those associated with childhood board games, classic movies, and television shows to those based upon the kinds o f educational experiences which fascinated children and adolescents in those decades. There are actually two types o f Boomer Personalities to which designers appeal: first, the “average” Baby Boomer, whose “inner child” responds to those games, movies, and television shows and themes s/he recognizes from childhood and adolescence; and second, the Jungian Puer Aeternus, or “etemal boy,” an archetypal personality construct, manifested in a chronological adult who has never completely grown up— who, according to Marie Louise von Franz, “remains too long in adolescent psychology”(l). The distinction between these two is important in that marketers appeal to both the adult keepers o f compartmentalized childhood memories, which are usually pleasant and