The introduction of video games has met with mixed reviews. In the US, an ongoing debate focusing on the potential problems of video game playing has been taken up by parents, politicians and social scientists. A number of the concerns that have been raised about the playing of video games in the US are very similar to the concerns raised about the playing of fruit machines (slot machines) in the UK. This paper attempts to put the ongoing US and UK amusement machine debates into an empirical perspective and attempts a comparative analysis of video games and fruit machines by examining: incidence of play, sex differences and psychological characteristics of machine players, observational findings in arcade settings, the alleged negative consequences of amusement machine playing (i.e. increased aggression and addiction), and an appraisal of amusement machines' positive aspects. Future directions and an expanded version of Brown's (1989) developmental model of a pathology of man-machine relationships are also discussed.