The Ultimate User Experience Laboratory

The ultimate laboratory for studying user experience would have the following qualifications:

1– Money is no object.  Whatever you need to spend for research, however long you want to spend…doesn’t matter!  The budget is literally endless.

2– The experience is *the* most critical aspect.  The better the experience, the more money will be made, the happier everyone will be.

3– Cutting edge.  New and advanced technologies are incorporated into designs, respected, and purchased for trial without a second thought.

4– Trade shows, conventions, and information sharing is at a premium.  Everyone works separately, and openly shares their results (to a degree).

5– No messy clients.  The user takes precedence.  Whatever they use, that’s what they client wants.

Ladies and gentlemen….welcome to the…


That’s right.

Casinos have endless budgets, they care about the user because revenue comes from the user, they engage in massive industry trade shows, they are highly advanced technologically, they are not the messiest of clients, and above all…..*experience* is the absolute most important aspect.

Casinos have rebuilt miniature versions of famous cities like Venice and New York, they provide free food to tens of thousands everyday, they give away free tickets, etc. etc. etc.

The Casino is the ultimate UX dream because they create positive experiences out of negative experiences.  This isn’t the internet or mobile.  The experience attracts you to physically enter a location, then systematically give that location all of your money, then walk out with a smile on your face.  There is nothing more pure than the UX of a casino.

This topic has been covered by many others over the years…from pumping in oxygen to the casino floor to security UI to problem gambling…and I hesitate to try to add to the scholarship on this issue because I’m not a casino expert.  Instead, I will hand the floor to the only UX expert I know of that deals exclusively with casinos.

Natasha Dow Schull is a cultural anthropologist, but I think she is far more of a UX designer than many of us who claim to be UX designers really are.  She has studied casinos for 15 years, and she is a great speaker!  I couldn’t more highly recommend a lecture.

So with no further ado, ladies and gentlemen — Natasha Dow Schull, PhD:

In Schull’s lecture, she mentions that addictive gamblers don’t WANT to win! They want to consistently keep a rhythm and flow to their gambling.  At first this sounded incredibly insane…you gamble to WIN, right?  Well, if you think it’s crazy, keep this in mind, when iPhone users are in the middle of playing a game and a call comes in, they are annoyed and bothered.  The issue of how to deal with incoming calls during gaming has been a complex and much discussed aspect of mobile gaming.  (A great primer on this issue is located here.)  The incoming call during a video game forces you to stop your concentration, answer the call, deal with whatever the incoming caller wants, then return to your game.  It breaks your concentration.  Part of problem gambling has to do with concentration, and the bells and whistles of winning in a casino can break concentration.  The same rule applies.

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