Play dynamics on electronic gaming machines: A conceptual review

Paul Delfabbro, Daniel L. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Background and aims: This paper proposes that future research into electronic gaming machines (EGMs) is likely to benefit from conceptual and methodological approaches that capture the dynamic interplay between game parameters as well between the psychological needs of gamblers and their behavior. Methods: The argument concerning the importance of player dynamics is developed in two sections. The first involves an analysis of existing work, which investigates individual gaming machine features and then a discussion; the second reappraises the value of Apter's (1982) Reversal Theory as a framework for understanding behavioral dynamics and the interplay between gambler's need states and their play choices. Results: It is argued that existing methods based on the modification of single features are going to be limited and that differences in observed behavior may relate to measurable differences in motivational states before and during gambling sessions. Discussion and conclusions: It is concluded that a more dynamic and interactive approach to studying EGMs could be facilitated by innovations in Big Data and greater access to genuine player data. It is argued that such work may help to inform in situ research methods as well as clinical interventions for gamblers at risk or those already involved in interventions involving exposure and controlled gambling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-200
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Behavioral Addictions
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and
source are credited, a link to the CC License is provided, and changes – if any – are indicated.


  • Electronic gaming machines
  • Gambling behavior
  • Motivation
  • Play dynamics


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