The Musings of ‘Evil Bastards’: Perspectives from Social Casino Game Professionals




gambling, game design, social casino games, free-to-play, stigma


Technology has blurred the lines between gambling and gaming. While the convergence can be witnessed on many different levels, social casino games on social networking sites and mobile apps illustrate just one example. Much of what we currently know about social casino games focuses on player behaviour, with little understanding about this genre from the perspective of social game professionals. This paper aims to fill the gap in our understanding of social casino games through interviews with the professionals who design them.

In-depth interviews were conducted with 14 professionals from the social casino games industry. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. Findings illustrate tensions that exist between the two fields of gambling and gaming; however, both are trying to separate themselves from the stigmatized ‘dirty secret’ that is gambling. Further, as a result of social casino games residing, for the most part, in an unregulated ‘grey area,’ findings illustrate the ethical struggle felt by social casino game professionals. This convergence has significant consequences, not only for players, but for game developers, designers, and researchers, and highlights the importance of game designer education.

Author Biography

Jennifer Reynolds, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Jennifer Reynolds is an applied researcher and knowledge broker. Trained in Public Health at the University of Toronto, she has over 15 years of research experience on the topic of gambling problem prevention, with an expertise in youth. Reynolds co-developed the first set of best practices for youth gambling problem prevention and has produced two documentaries, along with many other arts-based initiatives as gambling prevention/education resources. Her current interests focus on using participatory action approaches to engage young people in arts-based knowledge mobilization.




How to Cite

Reynolds, J. (2021). The Musings of ‘Evil Bastards’: Perspectives from Social Casino Game Professionals. Critical Gambling Studies, 2(1), 13–20.