The making of the addicted human: Electronic gambling in Japan

Abstract

Since the 1980s gambling market has undergone a radical transformation. Due to advancements in computer technology and in behavioural science, more immersive and more profitable gambling experiences can now be produced. Gambling environments have been redesigned, and new powerful gambling machines based on digital electronics have rapidly spread across many countries. The spread of electronic gambling has participated to the economical growth of these countries, creating jobs and strengthening state finances.

However, it has negatively affected the quality of life of a considerable part of the population. This is an inevitable consequence, since in a capitalist context increasing profit is the ultimate goal of every corporation, and from the point of view of gambling industry the most profitable consumer correspond to the addicted consumer. Gambling corporations adopt in fact strategies to increase players’ time-on-machine in order to make them play as long as possible. Strategies which eventually lead to addiction.

The present research investigates the connections between contemporary electronic gambling and the emergence of addicted players in Japan. Although widely neglected by academic studies on the topic, Japan is by far the largest electronic gambling market in the world. Influenced by post-humanist theories such as the one of Bruno Latour, this work conceives Japanese electronic gambling as a network. Addicted subjects emerges in and are part of this complex network, which consists of economical, juridical, geographical, architectonic, psychological, technological and various other dimensions. In order to properly problematize addiction, we consider how all these different dimensions mediate players’ experience and participate to the creation of new addicted subjects.

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