Tech and Trends:- There is a paradox with online games. In truth, it’s not restricted to either the internet or to games, but we’ll come to that later. Let’s stick with online games for now. The fact is that such games show that paradox in all its colours, and for that reason it is worth asking the question: what do we mean when we say that we need certainty and uncertainty?
Let’s start with the safe, the certain and the sure. If we’re playing any game we need to know the rules, and we need to know that the same rules apply across the board for each and every player. We need to be certain of these things before we can even start to think of what we’re doing as a game. Without that security we might as well call it real life and leave it at that.
OK, that’s point one. Here’s point two. When it comes to online gaming, especially the sort of online casino gaming that is enjoying such an amazing explosion in popularity currently, then there is more at stake than just the game itself. People need to know that their money and their account details are 100 secure. They need absolute certainty in that respect.
It has to be said that the large and established casino providers have delivered on this. Companies like 32red.com/jp and William Hill whose parent companies are listed on the London stock exchange have their own financial interests at stake in delivering that sort of water-tight security. If they are seen to let their clients down, their business will inevitably suffer.
Those organizations are fast acquiring an enviable record of reliability. Routine use of the 3D security warranted by Visa and Mastercard for every play ensures that casino gaming on the net can be as secure as shopping at Amazon, or banking online. The case for certainty with these well-recognised and respected providers is cast iron.
This brings us to the other side of the equation. For all that impressive security blanket, the games that such providers offer hinge on the nature of uncertainty and our entirely human and subjective relation to it. This is the essence of gambling.
Games of skill, just as much as games of chance derive their fascination – and it is a fascination as old as civilization itself –with uncertainty. It is an emotive area. Just think of what it means to have hopes, hunches or dreams. These are as much emotional as rational experiences. It is the play and unravelling of these deeply personal conditions that make gambling so resonant and so universally popular.
As soon as we have an investment in a story, whether in the form of a drama – because you like the character – or the turn of a card – because our money is at stake – it becomes immeasurably more gripping.
And it is the packaging and the presentation of this sort of uncertainty that the online gaming industry has been so successful at marketing. If Hollywood represented the selling of dreams, and Facebook now stands for the marketization of friendship, the online gaming industry represents the capitalisation of something that is equally common to us all: the urge to source pleasure from uncertainty. The paradox is, of course, that we need to feel safe, secure and certain of our surroundings to be able to do that.