The new interactive website Thank You for Playing invites users to discover the dark side of gambling by exploring how games of chance affect players who develop addictive behaviours.
Slot machines and other casino games are designed to manipulate players and their desire to play, eliciting a neurological reward/punishment reaction. When players win, their faith in a good outcome is strengthened; when they lose, they feel like they’ve been punished and try to redeem themselves. Without being aware of it, the player becomes a hostage to these two emotional states—and casinos know full well how to take advantage of this.
Thank You for Playing allows us to follow the personal stories of three players who recount their experiences of addiction and abstinence. Various experts (neurologists, psychologists, and addiction specialists) offer theories to help audiences understand the mechanism and source of the dangerous, drug-free addiction that is compulsive gambling.
Thank You for Playing follows the personal stories of three gamblers who recount their experiences of addiction and abstinence. Each story is divided into chapters that trace the stages of gambling and addiction. As we listen to these stories, we take part in a game ourselves, betting and amassing points, as this interactive doc sheds light on how the mechanics of gambling lead to addiction. Like the featured players, we find ourselves driven inevitably towards the wheel of misfortune. But all is not lost: we can free ourselves by breaking the cycle of addiction.
Meet Marie, Stéphane and Robert. Marie felt like the slot machine “understood” her, and within four years of starting to play she considered gambling to be her livelihood. For Stéphane, it all started with just one dollar. He thought he could win and hang onto his profits; instead, he suffered a series of losses and quit his job before he finally managed to stop playing. And Robert used gambling as an escape during a particularly difficult time in his life. He wound up going to prison twice and racked up two million dollars in debt, but the most painful part of it all was losing his wife, who left him. All three managed to break the cycle of addiction, some by joining Gamblers Anonymous, which gave them the support they needed. Robert and Marie no longer gamble, while Stéphane still considers himself at risk.
Thank You for Playing also introduces us to various experts who offer theories to help audiences understand the mechanics and source of a gambling addiction, which can afflict anyone. “We all react the same when we have a slot machine in front of us,” says Daniel Charest, a technician who maintains the machines at the Montreal Casino. Associate Professor Magali Dufour discusses the vulnerability of players and demystifies the feeling of satisfaction that comes with winning. And croupier Damien Bérubé reveals the illusion of control that’s at work, while neurologist Alain Dagher illuminates the physiological aspects of gambling: how the rewards it generates bring us pleasure and act on the brain’s dopamine system.
An interactive documentary by
Researched and Directed by
Design and Coding
© 2016 National Film Board of Canada (SOCAN)
Dr. Alain Dagher
Actors in reenactments (UDA)
Director of Photography
Amélie Lambert Bouchard
Offline and Online Editor
L.L. Bilingual Transcription Services
Sound Editing and Mixing
Source: B.F. Skinner Foundation
Advisors for Interactive Development
Marie Pier Gauthier
Alexandrine Torres de Figueiredo
Sophie de Champlain
Gamblers Anonymous Montréal and its members
Smithy Creative Group Inc.
Nicolas S. Roy
The names of the participants in this documentary have been changed to preserve their anonymity.
© 2016 National Film Board of Canada