From time to time you hear of some fellow which died in front of the screen playing World of Warcraft. Recently those started to die while playing Candy Crush. Do you realize that? All the little ladies from the selling points in the country are in danger.
Sure , the games aren’t meth made by Walter White. Those who died during the game had some other health problems but at least half of those which read this article now know a game addict and it appears that recently, gaming dependency is recognized officially and studied by psychologists.
The question is: There is somehow the chance that these games are intentionally made in such a way that you are made to play in a compulsive manner even you aren’t pleased by it? The answer is YES, a big one. And the methods that they are using are fairly sinister. You won’t believe the way they are create for the sole purpose to make us spend more and more time in front of the PC only to get that rare loot, finish that epic mission or whatever the heck you’d like to do. I’m one of you as well so let’s see 5 of them.
5. They put you in a Skinner box
What’s the purpose to sweeten the truth? No matter how I say it it’s still shitty. A Microsoft employee with a PHD in behavior sciences, having its purpose to create and study the games he wrote in an article, quote: “ Every step is a time arrangement, activity and reward, and there are an infinity of ways in which these elements can be combined to obtain the pattern of activity the player desires.”
1st observation is that the previous quote doesn’t contain the words: fun, delight or happiness. This is not his problem, he is more of like the pattern of activity the player desires. His theories are based on the observation labor made by B. F. Skinner who discovered that you can control the behavior of the animals, training them, using a series of impulses and rewards.
He also invented the famous Skinner Box, a cage in which there is a fucking rat who has to press a crank to obtain some food. Which is the problem? The games aren’t what they used to be. In the old times, when those were making a game you could buy it as it was and nobody was preoccupied of how much time you would have to spend in front of their game.
Having considered that all the money that could be obtained were already given, their only concern was for you to like the game enough to buy the next one. Meanwhile, the game industry has passed slowly towards a financial pattern based on subscriptions and payments during the game. MMO’s on the market are created with the sole purpose to make you play till you get blabbered.
The problem is that is no way that they can create a story so complicated and with so many levels that you can’t finish it unless you play thousands of hours. So they needed to change the game rules in such a manner the players to repeat themselves, the same actions, no matter if they liked it or not.
There comes the Skinner Box in action. It’s an important issue, discussed for a long time. Some of them consider the Skinner methods of designing the game are a form of human exploit. The issue is that not the games itself are fun, but they are made in such a manner that you play even if you are bored using of rewards carefully planned. Maybe you ask yourself as well how is it possible that a system like this is working having considering that these rewards aren’t fucking real, only virtually, they have no value in real life. This is cause :
4. The virtual little swords count
Most of the new games are basing on this factor. Your brain perceives the virtual goods as being real. Cause they are. May seem hard to believe but it’s true. If it requires time and skill for obtaining something, then that something will get value no matter the cost.
It has no importance if the object is made out of meat, diamonds or virtual making South Korea to treat the virtual goods as being real goods under the same laws and obligations. In the present moment the overall value of virtual goods had exceeded $5.000.000.000 and shouldn’t surprise us.
People spend huge amounts of gold and diamonds for the simple fact that the shine cute under the sun. Even if they haven’t any practical use. An armor from a virtual game can be as beautiful and shiny, and over that fact it even protects you from the orcs. In both ways you are paying for an idea. Ok, and what’s the problem? Of course most of the games that appeared in the last 25 years have virtual objects which can be collected in some parts of the game.
There’s nothing new or bad in this. The problem is that cause of the fact that gamers consider the objects real and valuable, the games that create dependency make you look endlessly such objects even if they haven’t not actual relation with the purpose of the game. The game developers are taking advantage intentionally from our instincts of gatherer, those developed on the course of hundred thousand years.
It is about the instincts that are making you collect something only to collect something. If you have the curiosity to read some statements of the game addicts you would quickly find examples of guys even if they had a nice girlfriend or wife besides them in bed they more likely preferred to collect virtual little swords until the gals were tired of waiting and they dumped them in the end. As like the guy from Microsoft said that the developers know that they use those elements as granules from China. And this is the whole idea.
3. They make you press the button
Imagine yourself the rat in the box or to sweeten the situation imagine yourself an adorable hamster in the box. The sole purpose is to make the hamster press the crank the many times as it is possible. How would you do that? If he gets granules every time he presses the crank he will relax pretty soon getting used with the idea that every time that he gets hungry all it has to do is to press the fucking crank.
If you really want to make him an addict of pressing the button you have to give him food in a random way on various presses of the crank, not knowing when the pressing will result in food or not. In this way the hamster will press furiously on the button, forgetting the hamster lady that is standing next to him. It is scientifically proven.
It’s called the reward tactics with variant rapport and in the Skinner boxes world it is the reason why lotsa enemies are dropping valorous objects completely random in World of Warcraft. The same principle it is used on the slots machines. You can’t end now cause the next one could be the winning ticket, or the one following the next, or the one after the after one.
The ZT Online, the China made MMO it is one of the most sinister ways of implementing the method. The game is full of treasure boxes which contain or not a fucking treasure. You must have a key to open them up in order to see that. But how you will find the keys? You buy them with real money of course. Straight slot machines. But wait, this is not all. ZT online takes the sinister tactics to another level cause it’s offering a special object at the end of every day to the player that opened the most crates.
Besides the classic addiction of slot machines it makes you enter the competition with all the rest of the players. It is a forming process, small rewards step by step. Let’s say you wanna have a Tier 10 from World of Warcraft. For this you will need 5 different pieces. To have the complete set you need 400 more Frost Emblems which you can collect 2 by 2 from different enemies.
Then you have to actualize every piece of armor with Marks of Sanctification. After that you need the Heroic Marks of Sanctification. To have all these you have to play the same missions again and again making the mouse click days in a row till no fucking end. In this point you can’t even say that it is a game. It’s like scratching a swelling with to end to your action. And it’s not all.
2. How they make you press that button endlessly
The difference between the hamster and a man is the fact that the man can procure himself something to eat and from other sources.
If a game is just one with random boxes at some point people renounce the game and searches another game. Probably similar. You need objectives on a long term that makes you continue the game and the game creators are aware of that. Here’s some of their techniques:
- A Glorious beginning – In the 1st stage of the game the rewards are endlessly, the hose is at its maximum peak, practically a river but while you advance in the game the rewards become more and more hard to get. That’s why is much harder to get to the next level in MMO’s. Once the player lived the advance experience right at the beginning of the game, the pleasure to advance in the future would be even greater. It appears that the players will be more and more passionate about the game while they are close to a new level.
- Don’t stop– Eliminate the occasions to stop. The simplest method to not exit the freaking game is to make you lose the whole progress of the game till that point. But this is a little bit frustrating so that a newer solution is to make exactly backwards, meaning a so short level is like eating a chips. In the Super Mario Bros, a level is so short that is less likely you’d wanna play the next one as well.
- Play of loose – it is probably the most frustrating tactic. Why reward the hamster when it pushes the crank when you can punish if it doesn’t push it. No? If you electrocute the hamster cause it passed 30 seconds when he last pushed the crank he will learn pretty fast to push not matter the reward. That’s why your mom takes her crops from Farm Ville, cause if she doesn’t they dry out. In Ultima online, your house or castle start deteriorating if you don’t visit the place regularly. In Animal Crossing the city is covered in weeds and your virtual house is infested by bugs if you don’t visit it constantly. That why cause of the most fucked up game designer made it the playing only not to lose what you earned so far. What’s the problem? The question is : Would the obsessive collecting of some rewards could it be named a freaking game? Till the end what’s a game? We are playing games cause there is a pleasure in gaining a set of knowledge even when it’s about something useless. Games help at developing the brain, especially when it comes to children. It helps us test our abilities without grave consequences if we don’t succeed. That’s why the brain rewards us with the fun sensation when we play. For that same reason games like Guitar Hero isn’t included in this kinda games from this article. Even if they also create a dependency it is absolutely normal to have fun, becoming much better in an activity. But the games that require you to push the button until you starve enters in a total different category. Their purpose is to make you continue the game even if you learned everything by letter. Even after you have nothing to gain from it. This is not fun anymore.
1. Make you love your box
You can imagine what’s this all about. It’s the reward in the game which attracts you more than anything in the world and give you still pleasure.
This is actually the design of the game itself that attracts you. Autonomy, complexity and the ratio between effort and reward being the key words when it comes to a decent game.