“Excuse me, ma’am, don’t you think you’ve gambled enough?” – Mr. Smithers
“No.” – Marge Simpson
“Okay. We’re required by law to ask every seventy-five hours. Get her another free drink.” – Mr. Smithers
In Nevada, video poker and video slot machines are everywhere from grocery stores to gas stations, and people play for hours on end, draining their pockets and bank accounts the whole time. The same happens everywhere else casinos have sprouted, from suburban New York and downtown Detroit, to reservations and river barges from sea to shining sea. And if the chance lords who run the big gambling operations ever get enough political juice to legalize their scam on phones and in homes, you can be sure people will do it there too. In the meantime, by combining regular video games with the technical and psychological tricks of video poker and slots, News Corporation (a/k/a FOX) and Electronic Arts have found the next best thing: The Simpsons Tapped Out.
“Tapped In: How EA Combined The Simpsons and Video Gambling to Make $130 Million (and counting)” is a 10,000 word mini-book that attempts to explain how “freemium” games like The Simpsons: Tapped Out have more in common with video gambling than they do with traditional video games.
Table of Contents:
1 – Quarters, Dollars, and Credit Cards: The Games We Pay (<- Click here to start reading the mini-book.)
2 – Designing Addictively Rigged Games for Fun and Profit
3 – Chips vs. Brains and Machines vs. People: We Don’t Stand a Chance
4 – Domesticating the Beast: Video Gambling to Video Gaming
5 – Training the Beast: Fixing Mechanical Problems and Increasing Flow
6 – The Infinite Profit Margins of Colored Pixels
7 – Machine Gaming: Greed on a Tilted Playing Field
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A Brief Note on Citations: Roman numeral footnotes are references to specific sources that are listed at the end of each chapter. Asterisks (*) are asides to the main text and can be read in between paragraphs. I used asterisks instead of numbered footnotes because holy shit are asterisks easier to format for Kindle.
The entire book is available for free on the linked pages above. However, if you enjoy it or feel like supporting this site, you can purchase a DRM-free copy for your Kindle or Kindle enabled device for $2.99 at Amazon. Why $2.99? Because that’s the cheapest price Amazon allows if Lord Bezos is only to take a 30% cut instead of 65%.
One final note, I am not the least bit above making revisions should any of you fine Tapped Out fans out there discover that I’ve made any factual errors. My sources are all stated plainly, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t made an unfounded assumption somewhere or screwed up some important point. If you (yes, you!) come across something where I’m just flat out wrong and you can point me to some credible evidence of my wrongness, please tell me. It’s the only way I’ll learn.
People Whose Time and Labor Are Non-Monetarily Appreciated
“Homer, you don’t do things like that to be rewarded. You do them because a fellow human being needs a helping hand.” – Marge Simpson
“Marge, you’re my wife and I love you very much, but you’re living in a world of make believe, with flowers and bells and leprechauns and magic frogs with funny little hats.” – Homer Simpson
As always, thanks go first and foremost to my blogging partners Dave and Mad Jon. For good and ill, nothing on this site would exist without you two.
For once again keeping my grammatical embarrassments to a minimum, I am deeply grateful to my Dad and my friend Liz. Thank you still for paying attention in English class.
For valuable if sometimes cranky feedback, thanks go to my friends Michael and John. Nothing could ever be completely acceptable to both of you, but the advice is invaluable. (And serious bonus points to John for making the cover image.)
Finally, thanks to everyone who has ever started, maintained or visited a Simpsons site. The Simpsons went off the air a long time ago, and it’s nice to know that so many people still care. Special thanks to all the fine folks at www.tstogame.com for running a great Tapped Out site that provides some of the best analysis and criticism of Tapped Out anywhere on-line.