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Understanding Addiction-Based Game Design

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the i-can-quit-any-time-i-want-to-i-just-don't-want-to dept.

PC Games (Games) 308

spidweb writes "The common theory is that games like World of Warcraft are addictive. But what are the exact qualities that make it so? Are there specific elements of the design that can be pulled out, distilled, and used at will to give a game drug-like properties? Is it wrong to do so? A new article at IGN RPG Vault attempts to isolates the exact qualities that go into making an addiction-based design. From the article: 'If a game uses rewards of any sort to entice you to experience highly repetitive content, you should see what it's trying to do and which of your buttons it's trying to press. If you don't mind, that's cool, but you should understand it.'"

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Frost Posh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120929)

BHLAH!

Re:Frost Posh (3, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121521)

This raises the profound question of whether the presence of articles on Slashdot, with their opportunity for Freud Proust moments, is an enticement to "experience highly repetitive content".
Discuss, paying particular attention to the turtles below.

Subscription based addiction (5, Interesting)

Poobar (1558627) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120933)

If a game has me hooked, addicted, and I play it for hours at a time for weeks on end- fine. I'm getting enjoyment, the developers get money, everybody wins. But it seems to me that the games that pull me in the most are those I buy outright, not the WOW-alikes that are subscription based. Surely if you're paying monthly there's always going to be a pressure on Devs to create addictive play? If I'm addicted to a bought-outright game, it's because it's a good game. That can't always be said for pay monthly games- the grind, the acheivements, the high-level horsie you just have to own- do they really add to the game, or do they just feed your addiction?

Re:Subscription based addiction (-1, Troll)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122195)

ROFL, you definately havent gotten yourself atleast 1 character to lvl 80 on WoW, have you?
You would not be speaking about WoW (the most highly addictive game) like that.
If you feel confident enough with your statement, and feel you are strong enough to prove me wrong,
join our server, Terrokar, and start a character, we will help you along with development so that your character reaches
lvl80 in a week, then use it as you feel, but guaranteed you will want in every night on the heroic dungeon runs we plan,
and after about a year, when you have developed carpotunnel syndrome, and have put on 20 pounds on your gut...then we will see how NOT addictive WoW, is compared to other games.

BTW- this is not a caricature of myself, as I am one of the few that is uniquely strong in being able to put the controller down....and pick up the weights, or run a few miles afterwards.

Its the rewards. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120935)

As a wowtard myself i was addicted to the game for a while, back when it was still up and coming. I can say that, for at least myself, I was addicted to the time invested vs rewards you could achieve. I would pour my time into real life hobbies and the payoffs from those were far less interesting, and nowhere near as cool as those that I could achieve in WOW. Yes I was a social recluse, but that's life.
My /played time on my main toon, before BC was released, was over 200 days. Add to that 4 other 60's with about 10 days game time to level each, plus time spent in pvp with them, rep farming, yeah. It wasn't nearly as destructive as some other people report it was for them, but I was still addicted to the rewards I could achieve, because it was so clear how to do things, and how to get what you wanted. There are many other aspects to it of course, but that was the kicker for me.

Companionship is addictive (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120937)

There is a pretty funny theory that the vast majority of WoW players are well-respected professionals who play the game in their free time. Through the playing of WoW, they not only practice their leadership skills, but also organizational skills and planning skills. The idea is that the game reinforces and promotes cooperative game play while preserving a fun environment.

But we all know the truth. It's 30 year old lardballs who still live with their parents that play this game. The lack of friends and human companionship drives them to seek out online communities where they can be accepted as who they portray themselves as rather than for who they, unfortunately, are. Seeking companionship is one of the most primal of human urges.

I don't know how you can say the game is addictive, in that sense. I'm not addicted to breathing or eating, but I'd die without doing either of those. We are talking about something very close to the core of being a human, not a dependency developed through repeated exposure.

Is Virtual Companionship Good? (4, Interesting)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121079)

...Seeking companionship is one of the most primal of human urges.

I don't know how you can say the game is addictive, in that sense. I'm not addicted to breathing or eating, but I'd die without doing either of those. We are talking about something very close to the core of being a human, not a dependency developed through repeated exposure.

I think you summarized this quite nicely regarding the component of companionship within humans. However, is virtual companionship good for our race going forward? This may sound like a bad analogy (sorry, don't mean to take away anything from your UID ;-), but just how far away are we as a society from The Matrix? 20 years from now, will it absolutely be the norm to work out of our homes and become that same virtualized community, designing and creating from behind a computer screen, virtually representing ourselves in the corporate world? What if someone took the WoW engine and put an actual business behind it and started hiring on the basis that you would be represented within the company as your virtual self instead of a physical presence? If course, getting fired might take on a whole new twist, as your character gets killed by your e-boss.

The real question is what will happen to reality as we know it today?

At least we have the fruits of procreation that can't quite be replaced (yet), so hopefully they'll still be some reason to share physical contact in the real world in the future...

Re:Is Virtual Companionship Good? (3, Insightful)

setagllib (753300) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121417)

The kind of people who get consumed by online engagement usually aren't very successful in real life anyway. If they become successful in real life following a WoW addiction, very often it's specifically because they now value the real world so much more after being essentially isolated from it.

My belief is that technology, like all advancements, helps separate people further into their "natures". If someone is susceptible to addiction, avoidance and escapism, they'll have more advanced ways of doing that in the future, but well-adjusted people will just be the same well-adjusted people, but with fancier phones and whatever else fits into their lifestyle. They will be largely unaffected by the growth of MMOs, except that some of the people they might have hung out with before will now play games instead.

Re:Is Virtual Companionship Good? (2, Interesting)

FooRat (182725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122925)

If someone is susceptible to addiction, avoidance and escapism, they'll have more advanced ways of doing that in the future, but well-adjusted people will just be the same well-adjusted people, but with fancier phones and whatever else fits into their lifestyle. They will be largely unaffected by the growth of MMOs, except that some of the people they might have hung out with before will now play games instead.

I'm curious, why is there a value judgment of "good" for "real world" interactions, but "bad" for "online" interactions? Is it ultimately not just "bad" because it's stigmatised? If I think of some of the so-called "well-adjusted" people I know who crave a lot more real-world social interaction and aren't interested in computers, is it not equally arbitrary to pathologize and say that those people are "addicted" to "direct social interactions" which they crave because they get "psychological rewards"?

I've known plenty of people who are not very successful in life because they simply like going out and having fun with their friends a lot. Yet somehow we consider it more "well-adjusted" to be a fun party type in a McJob ("hooked on" going out, one could surely say) than, say, a highly successful financial manager who spends his evenings "hooked on" WoW.

Re:Is Virtual Companionship Good? (5, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121459)

What if someone took the WoW engine and put an actual business behind it and started hiring on the basis that you would be represented within the company as your virtual self instead of a physical presence?

Someone would jump out from behind the water cooler when you walk by, ram their envelope openers into your kidneys and dance on your corpse. Why're you asking?

Re:Is Virtual Companionship Good? (5, Insightful)

MetaPhyzx (212830) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121677)

There is no substitute for physical, in-person, flesh and bone companionship.

 

I'm a gamer and there have been times that I've set aside what I consider an extensive number of hours to play. One such time that comes to mind is the release of Rome: Total War in 2003/04 or so. I remember playing late nights for two weeks straight including, sleeping about an hour and then heading into work. After the kid was asleep at 8:30, I'd be back at it again.

 

When I was younger and had fewer responsibilities (pre-children), devoting that much or more time to a game would not have been as big of a deal.

 

However there is a limit. Yes, it may be no different than devoting hours to a hobby and just as tangible. Yes, using an online game as a fulcrum for social interaction for those that it does not come easy to (and for those of us whom it does as well) can be rewarding, same as a hobby would.
 

Yet it still can't beat having a beer or a glass of wine with your friends, or a good vacation, or that certain girl/guy with a twinkle in their eye. It can't beat watching your kid run the wrong way on the soccer field.
 

I'm not sure the phenomenon qualifies as an addiction; we are way too eager to classify anything we can as such. By this definition texting could be an addiction. Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, on and on. But it might be a harbinger something the parent alludes to, which is our willingness to substitute physical interaction and learning how to deal with people for virtual interaction and further stratifying ourselves.

Re:Is Virtual Companionship Good? (2, Funny)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121893)

What if someone took the WoW engine and put an actual business behind it and started hiring on the basis that you would be represented within the company as your virtual self instead of a physical presence?

I'd think people would

  • Work in the WoW business from 9 to 5.
  • Do boring, repetitive tasks which produce (or otherwise make available) a limited good.
  • Exchange the good for money

(You know, like a real job).

I have a great idea for a virtual business the two of us should get working on (but don't tell anyone). It's the greatest WoW business of all time:

Gold Mining!

Enjoy the perilous, adventurous quest for precious metal (and the handsome rewards that go with it), all from the safety and comfort of your own home.

I think this will revolutionize WoW. Let's pioneer this wonderful new business model!

Re:Is Virtual Companionship Good? (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122273)

Yeah, one problem, what if I have a few alts, that are all working for you without you knowing its just one person, then after awhile, some competitor offers me a big wad to bring you down, suddenly, 15 key position employees in your company outright resign, leaving you to scramble, and eventually go bankrupt because you did not quite know you had all your eggs in one basket.

I am all for working from home (being a software developer...i don't need to be in the office)...
but i do see pitfalls to what you suggest. The whole up and out process too, helps avoid shackfever.

Re:Is Virtual Companionship Good? (1)

timster (32400) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122541)

The Matrix? Seriously? With a great question like "is virtual companionship good for our race going forward" you turn to the Matrix? Not Asimov's Solarians?

Kids these days. Must be time to fire up my lawn-clearing robot.

Re:Is Virtual Companionship Good? (1)

FooRat (182725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122773)

I wonder how many posters here realise there's an odd level of 'meta' in this discussion; slashdot itself has some of the same properties ... the "virtual" social interactions, reward mechanisms (e.g. getting a post modded up), etc.

But why is a telephone conversation generally still considered "real world" but written discussion on a computer screen (like e-mail, or most conversation in WoW) considered "virtual"? Telephone conversations are ultimately also "virtual". Except at the retail level, most of the world's business interactions have already occured "virtually" via telephone for a long time now. The level

Most of the WoW players I've known, incidentally, were skilled and competent professionals who played the game in their free time - but there's an obvious selection bias in my sample, so that meaningless (that's the type of people I happen to mostly meet). I knew one guy who was so addicted he played all day and lost his job. A few others were definitely (and some self-admittedly) 'addicted', but still managed to retain competence in their fields and restrict it mostly to free time.

Re:Companionship is addictive (4, Interesting)

Lordfly (590616) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121225)

Anecdotally, my best friend from high school pulls down six figures at an international oil firm. He's an engineer, finds natural gas all day. He's one of the smartest guys I know. He pulls down 24 hour shift routinely.

What does he do in his very limited spare time? Runs raids in WoW with all of his fellow engineers. He has multiple accounts, each with multiple Level 80s on them.

Somehow I think your stereotype of "FATBALL LIVES AT HOME WITH MOMMY LOL" falls flat.

Re:Companionship is addictive (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28121263)

Anecdotally, my best friend from high school pulls down six figures at an international oil firm. He's an engineer, finds natural gas all day. He's one of the smartest guys I know. He pulls down 24 hour shift routinely.

"My friend works at the full service gas station. He collects anime figurines."

What does he do in his very limited spare time? Runs raids in WoW with all of his fellow engineers. He has multiple accounts, each with multiple Level 80s on them.

"He is so pathetic he had to create other characters just so he could have friends in the game."

Somehow I think your stereotype of "FATBALL LIVES AT HOME WITH MOMMY LOL" falls flat.

You didn't mention either way whether he was fat or where he lived.

Re:Companionship is addictive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28121345)

I am one of those WoW playing FATBALLS you insensitive clod!

Re:Companionship is addictive (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121347)

He's an engineer, finds natural gas all day.

Hell, I guess I will be seeing him at my place soon, especially after burrito night.

Re:Companionship is addictive (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121477)

The statistician in me says "if the number of items in a sample is large enough, you'll find an oddball that will serve as the 'see, it ain't so' example".

WoW has 10 million players. It's a given that you can pull any kind of sample even out of your ass and it will be fitting. I can, even without checking, say that the chance that there is at least one celebrity, one mass murderer, one nobel prize candidate, one illiterate, one billionaire, one terrorist... playing WoW ist ONE. The sample is big enough that it's near certain that ANY kind of group has at least ONE representative in it.

Whether your friend is the norm or the exception is another question.

Re:Companionship is addictive (2, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121559)

By the same token, we can find your lardball the same way.

I think if you actually studied the population of WoW, you'd find it heavily biased towards males... But little else. The rest of the population is probably represented pretty well.

Now, if you want to make the case that most of the people in the world are lardballs, that's a different story.

Re:Companionship is addictive (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28121623)

Now, if you want to make the case that most of the people in the USA are lardballs, that's a different story.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Companionship is addictive (4, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122063)

I think if you actually studied the population of WoW, you'd find it heavily biased towards males... But little else. The rest of the population is probably represented pretty well.

For values of "probably" indistinguishable from "wishfully".

According to the Daedalus Project, the average age of a WoW player is 28.3 years, and he (86%) spends 22.7 hours online per week. 38.3% of the players are full time students, while only 2.0% are retired.
How about marital status? While I couldn't find any stats particularly for WoW, for MMORPGs as a whole, 64% of players are single. Even more so for men (67.4%).
Income? The largest group of MMORPG players have no personal income, being either students, home makers or unemployed. The largest income bracket for those that DO have income is between $25,000-$39,000.

To summarize, the demographic Median Joe in WoW is a single male, 27 years old, either a full time student or working a single low-paid job.

(And that's including the statistics for those you know who are happily married and have six digit incomes. Subtract those, and the statistics get even worse.)

Re:Companionship is addictive (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122775)

I honestly don't know. But let's see what I'd expect...

I'd expect the average WoW player to be below median age, I'd expect him (him, definitly him) to be not dead broke, I'd expect him to be able to see and hear and use his limbs (arms at least), I'd expect him to have an IQ above 80, able to interact with the world and not be in a coma... Simply due to the average computer user being below median age, able to afford a computer and use it, coupled with the average computer player being below median age, able to afford...

That alone means that the sample itself (using "the population" as the basic population and universe of our statistics) isn't too well suited. You have a lot of items in your sample that simply CANNOT participate in WoW due to financial restrictions (can't afford a computer and internet connection), due to physical limitations (can't see or move arms, or be in a vegetate state... CAN THE JOKES over there, no flame war here!) or due to not being interested in computers in the first place.

Rather, I'd compare "the average WoW player" to either "the average computer game player" or even more specific to "the average MMO player" if I wanted to see whether WoW players share some common trait when compared to other groups of similar significance. It's kinda pointless to compare "WoW players" to "the population" and find out that it's almost exclusively young male computer users, which can easily lead to the conclusion that young males who own a computer are prone to "addictive computer playing disorders", because there are almost no cases known of post-menopause grannies with cataracts who fell for the "threat" of MMO addiction (the one oddball you might find is the statistical error, ok?).

When you want to do statistics, first of all choose your universes very carefully.

Re:Companionship is addictive (3, Funny)

bFusion (1433853) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122681)

Yeah, but I doubt that there's a WoW player that's a illiterate mass-murdering celebrity billionaire terrorist!

Re:Companionship is addictive (1)

WeirdingWay (1555849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121713)

Very limited spare time yet he has multiple 80s in an expansion that hasn't been out that long? Either he's doing something illegal (purchasing multiple accounts), or you're full of crap.

Re:Companionship is addictive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28121759)

With that cash i can also buy accounts at ebay

Re:Companionship is addictive (0, Troll)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121249)

Huh, rather long to be a troll. Just flamebait then?

Re:Companionship is addictive (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28121343)

Look, using these tired stereotypes about gamers is hardly productive to your argument. Clearly you don't know the people you are commenting on. I won't waste my typing on examples of educated, active, successful gamers with families, businesses and real lives. Suffice to say that your characterization is deeply unimaginative and flawed.
The question of addiction is also a bit of a stereotype, which I think is owed to the hobby-like space which gaming occupies. I believe gaming can more convincingly be compared to other multimedia entertainment, such as television, which rarely gets discussed as an addiction, owing I'm sure to the pervasive presence and acceptance which TV has in society.
The difference with gaming, MMO games in particular, is the they have the addition of a social element. For me, this makes them occupy a much more socially "connected" activity than watching sitcom reruns on the boobtube...

Re:Companionship is addictive (2, Insightful)

setagllib (753300) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121447)

People are infinitely more likely to spend long stretches of time watching television with others than alone. Having someone else there makes it feel more social and less pathetic, even if you're not saying a word to each other.

Online gaming takes this to the extreme, where there are always plenty of other people there to make players feel validated in their choice of activity, and so players stay on until the "real world" forces them out.

The social element is critical to immersion and addiction. There's nothing like tribe mentality, peer pressure and dependence upon external validation to continually fuel destructive behavior.

Re:Companionship is addictive (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121451)

If you're actually looking for "efficient management" in MMOs, you might have to look to other MMOs. I know of a few EvE guilds that are ran more ruthlessly than the worst (RL) corporation you've ever worked for. Where you're told when and where to be online, what ship to fly, what skills to learn, what equipment to outfit, if you're a fighter. Where you're told how much ore you are to mine in a given amount of time, if you're a miner. Where you're told what to produce and where to get it, if you're builder or transporter. All with levels of management who have to report what they're doing, with set goals that have to be met, and if you don't meet it, well, it's been a pleasure to work with you, you have 24 hours to leave our space before we open fire on you.

That's not playing anymore, though. That's worse than working a second job. That's working a second job and paying to do it.

Re:Companionship is addictive (1)

areusche (1297613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121487)

Games like WoW or Simcity for that matter have no addicting effect. This isn't like heroin or cocaine for that matter. I was "addicted" to Sim City 4, and guess what happened? I got tired of playing it. That doesn't tend to happen with most hard drugs out there on the street. To this day i refuse to play WoW on the premise that I only need to pay once (like a hit). I don't need a "prescription" of WoW.

Re:Companionship is addictive (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121905)

Heroin produces physiological effects when withdrawn, as do nicotine and caffeine. Cocaine does not, although subjects experience psychological addiction due to craving the positive effects that it had on them - just like with gaming.

Just so we we're clear on the Articles of War (on Some Drugs).

Re:Companionship is addictive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28122783)

Dear areusche,

If you don't like that hit of WoW, why don't you try me instead? Just one easy payment of $49.95 and you can play with me all you want!

Sincerely,
Guild Wars

Re:Companionship is addictive (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121663)

I doubt you can be a good leader if you are an asshole in real life.

In the same way as in real life, you have to know how to socialize in the game. If you don't know how to follow the rules and respect your team mates you are out.

Re:Companionship is addictive (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121763)

While for /.ers living in seclusion of parents' house basement may be true the rest of your theory (about seeking companionship) is probably less applicable. The article specifically underlines certain way 'computer gaming' in particular makes you addictive. Granted that you have to be at least interested in games in the first place but what happens next is another thing. Psychologist I saw once in tely claimed that by ensuring small steps (levels) and getting rewards after passing each is the best way to achieve addiction especially if really unpredictable and unpleasant things like death or prosecution are excluded from virtual world (in this sense you can start your 'life' anew if things go terrible wrong). That seems to be the same as what TFA claims.

Re:Companionship is addictive (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122247)

Yes, maybe some, no.
Yes, many develop leadership skills (of sorts good only in the virtual game space)
Maybe some are tub of lards, hell if you come over and think after running a raid or 2,
I am a tub of lard, I will show you how I can do laundry on my 6pack.
No, the game is highly addictive, the only thing stopping me from playing continuously,
is 3 things, a girlfriend that whines all the time, the dogs that need to be walked often,
and a scrooge side, that will not allow me to spend on a game I bought already (supposedly).
I play 2 months on, 2 months off.

Re:Companionship is addictive (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122549)

Personally, I don't care much for companionship in a game. I've never been much into multiplayer games at all. The game I find really addictive is Civilization. That and Nethack. The "Just..one..more..turn!" appeal of these games that entire nights, or even weekends can disappear into them.

I don't play much of either any more, I spend more time expanding my collection of classic consoles. But my point is, there's something besides just surrogate socializing that makes games addictive.

Re:Companionship is addictive (1)

Toad-san (64810) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122593)

I don't think so.

I'm FAR more antisocial and loner (with ALL my characters) in WoW than I am in the Real World. No guilds, solo everything, no instances, rarely do battlegrounds. Characters on three servers, all of which are PvE and not PvP. But the only role-playing I'll do is to have an accent. I used to give away low-level enchants and bags to lowbies, but don't even do that any more. Yep, antisocial as hell. Because that's not the part of the game that attracts me.

So I for one definitely don't play WoW (for years now, and a LOT of hours weekly) for the companionship or society of others. And I fit the first part of your description (professional playing in offtime for entertainment, relaxation, escape), rather than the second.

Re:Companionship is addictive (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122637)

But we all know the truth. It's 30 year old lardballs who still live with their parents that play this game. The lack of friends and human companionship drives them to seek out online communities where they can be accepted as who they portray themselves as rather than for who they, unfortunately, are. Seeking companionship is one of the most primal of human urges.

Are you serious? This should be modded +5 Funny, not Insightful. I've played WoW for many months, and have taken long breaks 3 times already. The breaks were not forced, they were a decision I made because I was simply tired of the game, and no, I did not experience withdrawal. I'm also perfectly capable of raiding 4 hours a day 3 days a week and seeing my friends on the other nights I'm not raiding. I have no such social issues you speak of, and I play in a guild where many players are playing with their girlfriends/wives.

You seriously need to take a step back and look at the reality. The media did something to you. I'm not the only one who's playing WoW and who also has a social life. Most of the players I've played with are this way, although I have seen (mostly younger players) people doing bad in school because of their 'addiction'. It does happen, but the majority of players are not this way.

We all know the truth? (2, Insightful)

Twyst3d (1359973) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122667)

There is a pretty funny theory that the vast majority of WoW players are well-respected professionals who play the game in their free time. Through the playing of WoW, they not only practice their leadership skills, but also organizational skills and planning skills. The idea is that the game reinforces and promotes cooperative game play while preserving a fun environment.

But we all know the truth. It's 30 year old lardballs who still live with their parents that play this game. The lack of friends and human companionship drives them to seek out online communities where they can be accepted as who they portray themselves as rather than for who they, unfortunately, are. Seeking companionship is one of the most primal of human urges.

I don't know how you can say the game is addictive, in that sense. I'm not addicted to breathing or eating, but I'd die without doing either of those. We are talking about something very close to the core of being a human, not a dependency developed through repeated exposure.

Apparently quoting the same thing old tired recycled line of "30 years olds in their mothers basements" is worth 5 points Insightful. Who would have known?

I wont deny these 30 year olds of which you speak dont exist. But Im quite sick of seeing that tired old line recycled. Worse - being subjected to the gall of essentially repeating the worst most repeated joke of the last few years, and doing so with condescension towards others about a product you seem to know so little about.

The people I met in WoW. Came from all walks of life. Sure there may be your generic nerds in there. But there are also doctors, singers actors, producers, truck drivers, restaurant owners, bell boys, chefs, and social workers. And thats just the tip of the iceberg. There are 11 million people playing this game right now. To say its all one type of people doesnt explain why past MMOs were not nearly as successful. But Im sure according to your 5 point INsightful original and trailblazing opinion. The world was just waiting for a large population of people to hit 30 and then go live with their parents. And when I say met - I mean I met these people. I even went to one of their funerals IRL.

And more players than you think are tired parents trying desperately to get a single hour at the end of the day just for themselves. A single hour away from their entire day spent working to provide for and take care of the family. And even then their ghetto little hour to mellow out most times is interrupted anyways.

Is it addictive? If you are unemployed and need an escape - very much so. But for a good number of people. Its an alternative to going out and spending a ton of cash on a single nights activities that provides a bare minimum of companionship and relaxation. 15$ a month vs a bare minimum of 15$ a night to go out. Thats a hrd pitch to resist financially.

Re:Companionship is addictive (3, Interesting)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122765)

If your theory about the need for socializing was the end all explanation for the success of Online games, then Second Life (as pure a socializing game as it could be) would be by far the most successful of them all.

The truth is that not all of us in our 30s are driven to play Online games for companionship (or are fat and live in our parent's basement ;)).

There are multiple drivers to play online games (see the Bartle Food Groups: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartle_Test [wikipedia.org] ) only one of which is Socializing.

Online games (like WoW or Unreal Tournament) have two really big differences from equivalent single player games, both little or not at all social:
- MMORPGs contain HUGE universes, much bigger that the largest of single player RPGs and they periodically grow. A game like WoW can keep an "explorer" type busy for months, even years.
- The current status of AI in games is such that playing against computer-controlled bots is less satisfying that playing against people. Part of the reason is technical: bots are incapable of complex strategical moves - and part is social: it is more satisfying to demonstrate superior skills against a fellow human than against a bot. This mostly satisfies the Achiever types.

Re:Companionship is addictive (1)

ausekilis (1513635) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122967)

The saddest part of your story is that it's true. I know a guy whose only "management" experience was being a raid leader for a couple years. He interviewed for a management job, and got it, solely because he was able to organize and keep track of ~40 people on a regular basis.

Addictive ? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28120947)

Well, as they package Red Bull with it...

Rewards. (4, Insightful)

Kavorkian_scarf (1272422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28120979)

Well it didn't post my last comment. I was addicted to the rewards that were available to me, and the clear cut, investment required for them. Do this X many times, get this in return. Kill X many of this, and get this. I was and still am(sorta) addicted to wow. I /played my main over 200days(pre BC), id been there since it went live, with 5 other mains all 60 with alot of /played time on them. It was mostly a replacement for the lack of things I had to show for myself. Before people jump down my throat, its not like I sat in my room all day playing (almost) I was a social recluse by choice, I enjoyed my life as it was, and I just found that I lacked the disciplin and the means of which to obtain the things I wanted for myself. WoW was my answer.

+1 Honest (5, Interesting)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121063)

While I've no doubt there is a healthy sub-set of heavy-gamers (WoW included) that have well-adjusted approaches to life and enjoy gaming as a part of that, there are many, many people who have done and actively do exactly as you describe. Few of them have the balls or self-awareness to admit it though, and fewer still have the verbal skills to articulate the trap as clearly as you have.

I've teetered on the edge of that life-destroying artificial-reward gaming addiction, and was fortunate enough to have circumstances intervene, but I know other people who have descended into exactly the hole you've experienced. A certain reclusive predisposition and messed-up life events are a common starting point, but people who don't understand the addiction can be very unhelpful with their "buck up, get a life" attitudes. Such people would also tell heroine addicts to "just stop taking it" if it were PC to do so, and their advice would be just as helpful and welcome.

Re:+1 Honest (1)

Kavorkian_scarf (1272422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121125)

I had an interesting approach to high school. I was overly optimistic, and I had the social skills of a Fascist street peddler, so I wasn't exactly ... how do you say... with the "in" crowd. I took the crap that came with my social graces in stride, learned to criticize myself and my actions first so that when it came time for verbal douche-baggery, I was not only prepared for their onslaught, I had witty self serving retorts ready for them. Did I mention I learned how to fight the hard way in high school too? :D Anyways, I learned to look at my own situation with a critical eye, recognize what I was doing wrong, then proceeded to do nothing about it. I've gotten very comfortable with my mistakes, and can openly talk about any aspect of my life really. I don't know if that makes me a hypocrite or some skewed version of a lazy asshole. I'll leave the categorization up to you

Re:Rewards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28121667)

I've done that twice. Once I fell in, the other time circumstances came to the rescue. It wasn't WoW, but a game very similar.

It really is a dangerous trap, that you don't really see coming, and it takes a hell of a lot of motivation to get out of.

Re:Rewards. (1)

alcmaeon (684971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122785)

Ah yes, that damned Ultima Online worm-farming. :-)

Am pretty much addicted to CoH:OF (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121089)

...the sheer compexity of the game, its realistic shots and firing, its amazing amount of sound and real-time weaponry all make it like wonderful that i wanna play forever.
OTOH i hate Railroads. Why? it can't play decent with a 64-bit OS, damn slow when it comes to running (i have a powerful enough comp that makes Crysis cry) due to its bugs, multi-processor issues, etc.

Re:Am pretty much addicted to CoH:OF (1)

Voyager529 (1363959) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121523)

(i have a powerful enough comp that makes Crysis cry)

...but does it run Vista?

Re:Am pretty much addicted to CoH:OF (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121823)

Ahhh... my comrade, iam not a fool: i run Windows 7 64-bit. A far better OS than Vista, the bastard child, will ever be...

Firsty posty! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28121101)

I'm addicted to slashdot karma farming.

I post bland, pro-open source comments, and collect the insightful mods.
Sometimes I feel like posting pro-Microsoft comments, which is the /. equivalent of giving away all your WOW gold and money. But I just can't do it.

Hold my beer and watch this (5, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121201)

In a sense, even Slashdot is a game. As you mention, we are awarded points when we post something "useful", and points are revoked when we post something not so useful. Even in the case of Microsoft stories, it is not unheard of to see pro-Microsoft posts get modded to +5. The fact of the matter is that the content of a post isn't the determining scoring factor. It is mostly style that is rewarded here.

The guy who thinks he's funny for saying "Linux sucks!" is going to get slapped down hard, but someone who takes the time to explain exactly how bad Linux is as a desktop operating system (for example) or how hard it is to use (as another example) will be modded very high. This isn't because the content of the post is different. Essentially, both simply explain the obvious: Linux isn't a suitable OS for the vast majority of the computing public. The first post expresses this sentiment as an opinion. The second provides a logical framework upon which the reader may be convinced of the facts.

Likewise, pro-Microsoft posts are commonly modded up. Due in part to the over-demonization of the company, a calm post explaining that the company isn't as bad as everyone thinks will frequently be modded up as a voice of reason. Even posts that extol the virtues of Microsoft (great software) and Bill Gates (worldwide philanthropy), while seemingly over the top, will get positive modification.

Slashdot has done many things wrong, but the moderation system is something they have done very right. By encouraging posts that have exemplary style, they are promoting a discussion that doesn't necessarily need the most knowledgeable participants, the only requirement is that the successful poster be garrulous and loquacious.

Re:Hold my beer and watch this (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28121307)

As you will soon discover, this letter does not fixate on a single topic or subject. To be perfectly frank and honest, it started out rather focused but I soon found, as I worked on my primary hypothesis and sought corroboration from other sources, that I have quite a number of different things to say about BadAnalogyGuy. To begin with, BadAnalogyGuy alleges that he does the things he does "for the children". Naturally, this is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. My goal is to get him to realize that I claim that we need to do more to serve on the side of Truth. Of course, if he insists on remaining an ignorant, uninformed, and ill-informed slimeball, that's his prerogative. We can justifiably toss most of BadAnalogyGuy's crotchety, vile promises onto our bursting bin of foul BadAnalogyGuy prattle. An equal but opposite observation is that BadAnalogyGuy wants to smear people of impeccable character and reputation. Faugh.

BadAnalogyGuy's arguments would be a lot more effective if they were at least accurate or intelligent, not just a load of bull for the sake of being controversial. We must overcome the fears that beset us every day of our lives. We must overcome the fear that BadAnalogyGuy will cause pain and injury to those who don't deserve it. And to overcome these fears, we must stop this insanity.

As I noted at the beginning of this letter, BadAnalogyGuy hates youâ"yes, you, because you, like me, want to derail BadAnalogyGuy's sick little schemes. He fully intends to turn the trickle of officialism into a tidal wave. But that's not enough, not for him. BadAnalogyGuy will additionally kill the messenger and control the message, which is why I contend that if you're not part of the solution then you're part of the problem. His ill-bred grievances are in full flower and their poisonous petals of cronyism are blooming all around us. It may be unfashionable to say so and it may surprise a few of you out there, but BadAnalogyGuy is eminently effrontive. I'll go further: If one believes statements like, "BadAnalogyGuy defends the real needs of the working class," one is, in effect, supporting sinful, imprudent buffoons. The problem with him is not that he's callous. It's that he wants to censor any incomplicitous machinations.

I would never take a job working for BadAnalogyGuy. Given his simple-minded, impolitic theories, who would want to? It's not the bogeyman that our children need to worry about. It's BadAnalogyGuy. Not only is BadAnalogyGuy more lethargic and more warped than any envisaged bogeyman or bugbear, but BadAnalogyGuy used to be a major proponent of moral relativism. Nowadays, he's putting all of his support behind escapism. As they say, plus Ãa change, plus c'est la mÃme chose.

BadAnalogyGuy can't fool me. I've met thrasonical, mealymouthed used-car salesmen before, so I know that when you tell BadAnalogyGuy's grunts that BadAnalogyGuy believes, in his elitist delirium, that his activities are on the up-and-up, they begin to get fidgety and their eyes begin to wander. They really don't care. They have no interest in hearing that his most progressive idea is to eroticize relations of dominance and subordination. If that sounds progressive to you, you must be facing the wrong way. I would like to close by saying that the only way I can possibly forgive BadAnalogyGuy is if he tells the truth and makes restitution.

Re:Hold my beer and watch this (1)

gishzida (591028) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121321)

It is pitch black. Can you see the slavering fangs? Do you feel the "razor-sharp claws? Do you hear the horrible gurgling noises? You have been eaten by a Grue... one of the typical members of Slashdot.

You forget astroturfers... (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121359)

Likewise, pro-Microsoft posts are commonly modded up. Due in part to the over-demonization of the company, a calm post explaining that the company isn't as bad as everyone thinks will frequently be modded up as a voice of reason. Even posts that extol the virtues of Microsoft (great software) and Bill Gates (worldwide philanthropy), while seemingly over the top, will get positive modification.

No doubt there are some people who genuinely think that and will mod accordingly. While I didn't have an account on slashdot at the time, I even used to be one of them. And you are certainly right, many forums have elements designed to increase addiction, slashdot included.

However, astroturfing has to be one of the best bang/back methods of advertising/publicity/damage control available to any company and your post ignores this rather obvious explanation for the modification status/presence of many posts on here.

Linux antagonism in Slashdot? (1)

Jack Zombie (637548) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121443)

The guy who thinks he's funny for saying "Linux sucks!" is going to get slapped down hard, but someone who takes the time to explain exactly how bad Linux is as a desktop operating system (for example) or how hard it is to use (as another example) will be modded very high.

You must be new here.

Re:Hold my beer and watch this (2, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121599)

" It is mostly style that is rewarded here."

No what is rewarded is well articulated posts, that are easy to read, are not too lengthly or use obtuse language. Most mods forgive posts with spelling/grammar errors, and/or missing words if the core is well enough articulated, of which I am thankful. I'm not going to pretend slashdot is without bias, but the moderation system works better then all other news sites as far as I know and almost all news sites have gone to including comments on their websites because they know it attracts readership and repeat returns to engage in discussion.

News comments like slashdot are constrained by a posters time, not everyone has time to post a longwinded complicated justification of x to make a small point on a comment on a news article few will have the time to read.

Let's not also forget mods have bias's, slashdot disproportionately attracts a lot of americans and hence anything critical of captialism or american ideas is usually quickly slapped down.

Re:Hold my beer and watch this (2, Funny)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122185)

anything against capitalism or America deserves to be slapped down. We all know that the twin towers of capitalism and democracy are the pinnacle of human evolution and the crowning achievement of America (not to mention the internet, modern medicine, 90% of modern technology, and nuclear weapons) are these two things. Plus America's role in keeping Europe free and not under the rule of whatever dictator tried to take over is oft ignored.

Re:Hold my beer and watch this (2, Insightful)

fbjon (692006) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121637)

On the internet, coherent posts deserve every praise they can get.

Re:Hold my beer and watch this (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122849)

I agree - if you look at the comment threads on newspaper websites or youtube, you quickly realise that the slashdot moderation system does a hell of a job (albeit imperfect, as with everything in the world) of increasing the signal to noise ratio in a discussion.

Re:Hold my beer and watch this (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122227)

the only requirement is that the successful poster be garrulous and loquacious.

That's not necessary. You just need to talk a lot, although xenonymous grandiloquence certainly helps ;)

Re:Hold my beer and watch this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28122639)

I think your post confirms itself.

You mention the good parts of MSFT and Gates in a reasonable manner. You even criticize Slashdot itself, yet with an approach that any reasonable person would consider seriously. As of this reply, your post is modded +5 Interesting.

Maybe you're not such a Bad Analogy, guy?

Also, concerning your title, check out Jersey Summer Breakfast Ale, for those times when a beer at 6:27 AM (Eastern at least) is a must.

Re:Hold my beer and watch this (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122845)

I really think there should be and equivalent to the Goodwin Law for when somebody posts a Linux versus Microsoft post in a discussing thread.

Maybe we could call it the Balmer Law and say that the thread has been Balmerized... ???

Re:Firsty posty! (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121649)

you jest, but there are other sites like Slashdot that offer rewards that are addictive. ServerFault and StackOverflow for example, has posts and comments from people laughingly saying that they are addicted to them, posting answers and questions in order to be awarded points along with a leaderboard and badges.

They are game-like, you keep in wanting to 'level up'. Ultimately its pointless (ha!) but we keep on wanting to play. I think its a social thing, where our position in society is mirrored (in a simple way) to a real-life social hierarchy. We all want to be the alpha male and win the herd of females. Which, in itself is why girls don't like the same games we play, they like the sexual thrill of chase games like pacman rather than the compete-for-position games men like.

It should be obvious that it's rewarding play. (1)

Artifex (18308) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121105)

The question is, why do we consider what we get in exchange, rewards?

In the case of WoW achievements, do we accept little achievement titles because we are trying to see how far we can get for ourselves, or are we doing it out of a sense of competition with friends or other people, or both? It's interesting to try to figure out how they've made the environment to encourage strangers to treat each other more as friends, (pug parties and raids) and how they've encouraged the sense of personal accomplishment through the gradual lore reveal of quests, and at what point that all breaks down and becomes endless grind. But then how do we explain the people who just get on to beat the crap out of each other in battlegrounds?

Re:It should be obvious that it's rewarding play. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121491)

So THAT's why /. now has a reward system?

Gotta go to 2^16 in consecutive days read, gotta go to 2^16 in consecutive days read...

Re:It should be obvious that it's rewarding play. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28121533)

The reward is the dopamine release when you "accomplish" something. They have things divided up so you get that at every level: when you kill the mob, when you kill the mob that has the item, when you finish killing 214 mobs to get the 10 items, when you actually turn in the quest, when you complete the chain of quest, when you "level"...

And spread out just enough that you keep wanting only a little more, and never feel like you're done.

If you divide up your real daily tasks like that, you could accomplish some pretty intense focus, I'll bet.

Nothing Really New (4, Informative)

Valen0 (325388) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121141)

The conclusion that this article makes are not really new. Nick Yee did similar studies on MMOG addiction with EverQuest many years ago. These were the studies that I could find:

The Norrathian Scrolls: The Virtual Skinner Box [nickyee.com]

Ariadne: Understanding Game Addiction [nickyee.com]

Reward Are Also Competitive (2, Interesting)

incubeous (841440) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121155)

Don't forget that one of the key ingredients in the MMO soup is being able to compete and flaunt your achievements to you the people you like AND the people you don't like. It gives a sense of personal ranking and has a elitist type effect on the psyche. It's always fun to show off your gear and make people drool.

Thanks for the heads up about rpg progress quest! (4, Interesting)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121245)

http://www.progressquest.com/ [progressquest.com]

The character creation screen alone is worth the download. I don't think I've laughed that hard since Airplane.

(And it's in the Ubuntu repositories. You gotta love Ubuntu.)

Re:Thanks for the heads up about rpg progress ques (1)

JohnnyBGod (1088549) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121391)

Yeah, thanks.

I really can't tell you how hard I laughed at the "Enchanted Motorcycle" race.

The sad thing is I almost find this more fun than the average MMORPG.

Re:Thanks for the heads up about rpg progress ques (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122275)

It randomly generated my character name as "Inoob"

I don't like it :(

Obligatory (1)

skrolle2 (844387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121277)

First post! You received 25xp. DING! You reached level 5.

Re:Obligatory (3, Funny)

Kavorkian_scarf (1272422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121287)

Gratz

Re:Obligatory (2, Insightful)

skrolle2 (844387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121389)

Thanks. I would have appreciated someone modding it up instead. I need to get it to +5 Funny for another achievement.

Re:Obligatory (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121505)

You're doing this wrong. Here's how you gotta do it:

"LFM, 5 modpoint holders for +funny, pst"

Now spam every thread with this.

Addictive design (1)

hcetSJ (672210) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121373)

Are there specific elements of the design that can be pulled out, distilled, and used at will to give a game drug-like properties? Is it wrong to do so?

Might as well be asking:

Are there specific compounds in cigarettes that can be used to make them addictive? Is it wrong to do so?

The fact of the matter is that cigarette companies (and computer game companies) have no one to answer to but their customers and share holders, and both will be happiest when they produce the most addictive product possible. 'Right' or 'wrong' is irrelevant to them, only 'legal' and 'illegal,' so if we want to prevent the creation of addictive games, our only recourse is legislation.

Further reading: Supercapitalism [amazon.com] by Robert Reich

Addiction?? (2, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121385)

It started when you controlled a little yellow circle that went around swallowing blue pills.

It's a blend (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121411)

WoW's "addictive" nature is a blend of many components.

First and foremost, it's the reward system. Human beings do things due to rewards. That's how we work. We used to hunt and gather, and our reward was meat and berries. We went, we did, we got something, we were pleased. In today's world, that doesn't work out anymore so well. Usually, the reward you get is abstracted away from your work too far for you to make that connection. We work a month and eventually, our accout grows a bit. But we don't see how they are connected. It's not like I get some kind of micropayment for every line of code I write or debug.

Even if, what kind of reward is money? It's again an abstract concept that has no "real" value until it's redeemed for what you actually want.

WoW gives you very directly reward for actions. First, there's that fanfare playing when you accomplish something (don't you think that doesn't matter! It tells you "you did that well", it praises you), you get some goods (more or less useful), what really counts, though, is that the game acknowledges that you actually "did something".

The next part is user interaction and commitment. Since people do rely on each other and have to, you are guilt tripped into playing even if you don't want to. They need a healer/tank/whatever or they can't accomplish their goal. Your decision to stay away from it lets four (or 24, or 39) people down. This in turn makes the player feel appreciated, welcome and needed. And trust me, today, a lot of people feel like they ain't needed or appreciated. Or even welcome.

The sense of accomplishment, where you feel like you progress. Today, again, we don't really get that feeling very often. You might, in school, when you ascend through the classes towards graduation. In your workplace? Maybe stuck in a burger flipper job? Where do you progress? Where does your life go to? WoW tells you exactly where it's heading. You can watch your progress by watching your level and the kind of outfit you wear. More over, everyone else, not just a small subset of people who happen to judge success by the same yard stick as you, everyone in the game can appreciate what you have "done", because everyone else uses the same gauge to measure success: Level and equipment.

Yet at the same time, there's still the feeling of having no responsibility, it's still a no-commitment thing. You could just log off and nobody could hold it against you. There ain't any real life issues to deal with should you decide to just leave. No job that you'll lose, no family you would lose, no class you could fail, just because you decided you don't wanna anymore.

Re:It's a blend (5, Insightful)

Chrondeath (757612) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122365)

From that analysis, it almost sounds like it's the real world that's doing it wrong, not WoW.

Re:It's a blend (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122603)

Well, generally it is.

Human does not fit in our society. Odd as it may sound, we're not really made for the life we live today. Maybe that's why we have so many "civilisation diseases". Especially our mind doesn't really work well in this kind of environment.

First, we have a 'pack' mentality, not the 'hive' mentality we're exposed to today. We work well in groups of 10 or maybe 20 individuals, and that's usually the amount of people the average person might "know" (to the degree of "know and like, and maybe hang out with"). That's how many people we willingly "work" together with. We don't really care for anyone outside that rather small circle. Small, considering corporations with thousands of people working there. Do you care about Joe from accounting? He could drop dead as far as I'm concerned.

Unless maybe if you're in accounting. And he's part of your 'pack'. Or, rather, your team or at least department. And that, again, only if you like him.

But that's hardly the only thing that is 'wrong' in our modern society. Wrong in the sense that it isn't compatible with what was necessary for our ancestors to survive and thus became part of the human "genetic" mindset.

Casino-like games from Blizzard (2, Interesting)

Jack Zombie (637548) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121421)

Actually, a Blizzard developer said in an old interview that they closely copied the 'constant rewards' system of casinos' slot machines when developing Diablo. They're not doing this at random.

I know it's on the Internet, but I've tried looking and couldn't find it. If someone could find that one or two paragraph quote, it would be great for discussion.

D&D for the unimaginative (5, Insightful)

boliboboli (1447659) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121571)

The model for this game design is really from D&D. E.g. Do stuff, get 'loot' randomly after an encounter, fill up the XP bar to hit the next level, improve skills, abilities, feats, etc, etc. The difference is that you don't have to go to your buddies basement(with your Doritos/Mountain Dew) and bring your dice on a Sunday afternoon to get your fix like with a video game; It's right there in your computer room. It also gives the experience to those who are imagination impaired. The potion of the gaming industry using these 'evil' methods should be thanking Gary Gygax and Dave Arenson for the money they're making.

Re:D&D for the unimaginative (2, Insightful)

Schezar (249629) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122105)

While that is what D&D (or Chainmail, really) was originally, there is a great deal of tabletop roleplaying that is nothing of the sort. While Dungeons & Dragons basically became "tabletop World of Warcraft" with the release of fourth edition, games like Burning Wheel, Inspectres, Prime Time Adventures, and Mouse Guard have broken far away from this progress quest paradigm. D&D is, simply put, the "WoW of tabletop gaming," and just as with WoW, the savvier gamers have moved to the independent scene or to games with less mass appeal but also less grind.

The real issue is simply that, for mass appeal and mass profit, the addiction model can't be beaten. D&D polished it as much as it can be polished on a table, and WoW did the same on a screen.

D&D for those without friends ... (2, Insightful)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122973)

Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh, but with any RPG or table top wargame, be it D&D / Shadow Run / Battle Tech / Car Wars / Toon! / Paranoia / GURPs / WH40k (I'm just the listing the ones I played growing up), you had to be able to get a group together, find a convenient place for everyone, etc.

With some of 'em, where there's progress from session to session rather than stand-alone sessions, you need to get everyone to be able to show up every time -- which is a problem as people work different schedules, have kids, move further away, etc.

With online gaming, you could just drop in for an hour or two, meet up with the party, drop out when life calls (as opposed to the night when one of the player's (now wife) kept calling every hour and keeping him on the phone for 20-30 min at a time, not understanding how EVERYONE else had to stop while it was going on.

I admit, I don't play WoW -- I did play EverQuest for a bit, and I mudded for years in college, but our group tended to stick to more private groupings -- We did a fair number of LAN parties in the years after college, then later would coordinate times for Diablo, StarCraft, Age of Empires, Warcraft III, Command & Conquer, Neverwinter Nights, Dawn of War, etc. Sometimes LAN parties, but normally just a normal weeknight where we didn't have to deal with travel (as one now lives 500 miles away and the others would still take up to 2 hrs each way w/ travel, setup, etc.)

So ... the point is ... MMOs are more convenient than face to face. Yes, they're less imaginative, yes, they can be less social, but we can get a game together in under an hour if someone feels the need to unwind from a stressful day at work, whereas a day of WH40K gaming might require weeks to prepare (gotta modify my figures to deal with some rules change / new tactics, etc.)

missing the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28121741)

not sure, but I feel that quite some of you are actually missing the point: it seems as if many assumed that only obese, unemployed fastfood lovers could become addicted, whereas 6-figure-earning engineers were imune.
just because one seems more pathetic than the other one doesnt mean anything.

which brings me to the second point: who is actually more pathetic, or better phrased, who should we be more concerned about: those that want to be someone else in virtual worlds because their life is not as thez would like it to be, or those that have monez and power in real life and try to follow their greedy-power-hunger even in virtual worlds? sorry talking cliches here.

so, what the point of discussions should be:
- when is someone addicted
- what effects / risks / dangers does it have
- what makes it addictive

Addictive ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28121771)

what made wow addictive? is a really good question i played the game for a year raided engame for a bit on my free time tought i had to invest some time on it to be able to raid every instance in a year. after that i just stopped playing. so i dont consider WoW addictive on the other hand plant vs zombies and peggle are like CRACK.

Calling Wesley Crusher... (1)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 5 years ago | (#28121979)

Well, if Star Trek: The Next Generation was any indication of such issues being relevant in our world, you might want to look at some of these upcoming games and toys coming out that you play using brain waves... such as Mattel's upcoming MindFlex [amazon.com] toy and the Emotiv Epoc [emotiv.com] headset controller for PC gaming applications.

As for addictive properties, there still needs to be some sort of "reward" system to act as feedback, like a strategic TENS unit shock into certain areas of the body that would be desirable, such as what you keep hearing stories about regarding lab animals becoming "wired" and externally controlled.

The "addiction" of games like WoW is a bit different and tends to be based almost entirely on participating as part of a "group", not unlike the awkward life of school children jockeying for recognition. If you have to question this from an ethics standpoint, then just about any situation where you are forced to compete against others to gain something would need to be questioned as well.

Which brings us to an interesting question... is the desire to live the product of addiction?

Re:Calling Wesley Crusher... (1)

IlluminatedOne (621945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122283)

Which brings us to an interesting question... is the desire to live the product of addiction?

I think when the argument is taken out beyond 10K feet like this, it starts to break down. Self preservation instincts are about survival and need fulfillment, not addiction. Is my need to eat when I am hungry an addictive response? No. Is my desire to stop off an get a when I've already eaten enough for that time frame an addictive response? Maybe. That largely depends on your eating habits, but I think it still illustrates my point. The heroin addict doesn't need the drug to live (try telling them that), but they need it to quell the physical and mental addiction they've developed (willingly). I think its fallacy to say 'I am addicted to life, so that is why I eat/breathe/sleep.'

Isn't it obvious? (1)

Random2 (1412773) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122143)

Mouses and keyboards actually come with small needles that infuse cocaine into the blood of the player, addicting them to the game. It's why these pay-per-month games cost so much.

Mabinogi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28122175)

Don't like subscriptions? Play a free-to-play game, with or without the optional pay-for customization/makes-the-game-easier stuff.

I prefer Mabinogi. I can drop it at any time, and come back days or months later, and I haven't wasted money on it, or anything that expires, and don't have to pay to start playing again.

They aren't really addicted to the game (0, Troll)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122321)

They are just losers who have no satisfaction in real life. The easy successes and minor penalty for failure make the game world more attractive than real life.

Weak Article (2, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122351)

For an article on ign, a site frequented by gamers, the article is really weak. I would expect something like that from a local newspaper rather than something published on a site read by people already knowledgeable regarding the subject. The article spends a lot of time explaining concepts and ideas that are already obvious to anyone who even remotely considers themselves a gamer (the regular audience of ign, for example). I was hoping it would then build upon those basic concepts that I already knew to present an interesting or novel theory but - no - that was it. A very disappointing read and not worth the time...

As a note, a big part of my disappointment is I feel this would be a very interesting topic to discuss so reading an intelligent article on the subject would be great but this is not that article...

In my opinionated opinion.

it's people (1)

po134 (1324751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122431)

It's not as much the games as the way the gameplay let us interact with other people with in-game chat or over TS/Ventrilo. For me, when I play video games online it's about people and not the game itself, although the game as to allow such cooperative gameplay. Good examples are TF2, WoW, L4D, etc.

I personally don't quit playing because of the community that our servers built around the players (GT every 2 months, lan each year, etc) that makes me come back every night and far from the game itself (sometime we play like user but we have the greatest fun at just talking to each other and talking about everything.)

To me this addiction is not really one with the game but with social interactions THROUGH the games.

Game Developer Convention, 2001 (0, Troll)

Teppy (105859) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122557)

GDC, 2001 I think it was. We had a roundtable on this very topic - I was new to the games business, and there's all these absolute game design legends sitting around the table. At first the discussion was really good - ways that games can be made more addictive, for instance by varying the reward payout schedule to be more like a slot machine, or by alternating between risky feeling and safe feeling gameplay, etc.

Then the discussion kinda took a turn for the wuss - "Well, we *can* make games more addictive, but *should* we?" And each person that spoke was trying to look more socially conscious than the last.

Then the designer of Tetris - holy shit, Alexey Pajitnov himself, stands up and says "What the hell are you people talking about? I CHERISH the times I'm addicted to games. What else am I going to do? Read some stupid book?"

The discussion got back on a proper track.

It's About Conscious Choice (1)

genoese (415161) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122813)

We should have exhausted this question when cigarette companies were caught enhancing nicotine levels in their product, in order to increase addiction, which enhances profit.

Consumers must have the opportunity to make conscious choices and give informed consent when consuming anything known (or reasonably suspected) to be habit-forming. I have no desire to form a nanny state, but folks need to know what they're getting.

Not just MMOs (2, Insightful)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 5 years ago | (#28122893)

Disclaimer: I have played WoW in the past.

It's not just MMOs that are addicting. Any online game can be addicting. Heck, even offline games can be addicting.

Currently, Team Fortress 2 for the PC is my addiction. One of the communities I'm part of has their own server and is currently thinking about getting a second one due to its popularity.

It's fun because you play against people you know and, unlike World of Warcraft, it doesn't matter how little or much you play, as your character never really changes.

Of course, Valve continuing to release updates has made it easier to convince some of my friends to play. It helped a lot when Valve had the sale on The Orange Box for $10 a few weeks ago, though...

study civilization iv (2, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28123029)

i had to forcibly destroy the disc in order to have a life

for me, it was a combination of the engrossing micromanagement (which you see with WoW and its endless loot management) and that insistent "just one more turn..." urging that moves you to devote 5 more minutes to the game that turns into 5 hours. that urging is the desire to see the completion of small goalposts, like building a wonder or taking a border city from the spanish or the indians, which is also discussed in regards to WoW

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