Designing the Gambling Experience

Last month, my fiance, sister, father and I spent a day at an Off Track Betting site in my old hometown about 2 hours away.  For those of you who are not familiar with OTBs, they are places where you can go to watch–and, more importantly, bet on–whatever horse racing tracks are running around the world.  I’ve been to a couple of race tracks (Churchill Downs in Louisville and Arlington Park in Chicago) where you bet only on the races running at that track and enjoyed them tremendously, but I’d never been to an OTB before.

It was an experience, because according to Dilthy and Bruner, was “distinguishable, isolable sequence of external events and internal responses to them”. While for the most part it was quite enjoyable (though I’m sure it could have been even more enjoyable had I left there a big winner ;) , there were some things that we felt could have been improved upon.  As my fiance and I were driving home that evening, the only thing we talked about was how we would improve various things, in essence, design our own personal gambling experience.  We didn’t talk about how much fun we had or how great it was to see my dad and my sister.  Even now, when I think back on the experience, the memory isn’t all that positive.  I first think about how some of the TVs were in need of repair, or how I couldn’t hear the callings of the races, or how I became easily confused because many races were running simultaneously.

In his Having An Experience essay, Dewey wrote “Experience is limited by all the causes which interfere with perception and the relations between undergoing and doing.” Reflecting on my OTB experience has helped me to understand what he means.

I had fun at the OTB, but I kept thinking things like, “I wish I could hear them call this race and not that race” or “I can’t see that race very well because the TV is too small or the contrast is too dark”.  And, the reason I had those thoughts was my only previous experience with the horse races had been at an actual track where the TVs are all in pristine condition and the calling of the race is piped throughout the facility.

So, I was comparing the experience I was having (the OTB) with one I had previously had (the actual track). I wasn’t experiencing the moment at the OTB.  I had predispositions, if you will, of what the OTB experience would be like.  I was limiting my own experience with my perception that an OTB would be the same at an actual track.  As Dewey said, there was “interference because  of excess on the side of … receptivity”.  This “unbalance blurred my perception” and “left the experience partial and distorted”.

Now, if only I could understand what the other 21 pages of Dewey’s article meant! LOL


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