Gambling-machines and the Automation of Desire

César Albarrán Torres
2014 Platform: Journal of Media and Communication  
This paper deals with the relationship between gamblers and Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs), which leads to the automation of desire through procedures. "Pokies", as EGMs are known in the Australian context, are both desiring­machines (Deleuze and Guattari) and cross­platform media where digital gambling and videogame conventions and procedures intersect. I make a case that, as desiring­machines (entities that are defined by their connections), pokies and gamblers form couplings that generate
more » ... assemblages, which are "passional", "a composition of desire" (Deleuze and Guattari). I also argue that pokies share aesthetic and procedural similarities with videogames and that the gameplay's objective is not always to merely win money, but to fulfil a desire to accomplish missions and embark on adventures. I also argue that these "missions" are related to chasing, the overarching procedure that defines EGM consumption and allows for the automation of gambler­pokie couplings. The aesthetics of most of these procedure­ images can be traced back to a postcolonial disposition over foreign lands, peoples and cultures ­faux Chinese and Aboriginal lore, exotic deserts, untamed jungles and Arctic landscapes that need to be conquered. This disposition echoes notions such as class­ related aspiration (desire) and exotica. I analyse the imagery in some of the pokies that circulate in the New South Wales (Australia) EGM market. This reading of Electronic Gaming Machines adds a ludic dimension to the analysis of a highly class­bound social practice that is part of a wider socioeconomic trend that points towards a new and contradictory consumption ethic. The application of videogame theory is absent in current discussions on poker machine interfaces and legislation, which generally focus on the figure of the pathological gambler and disregard the complexities of gambling platforms.
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