When I was a kid, my brothers and I finally got an Atari about the same time the kids across the street were getting a Nintendo. Luckily, we could go over to the neighbors anytime we wanted to advance Mario to the next level. While the video games were exciting to play,going outside to play GI Joe or tag was much more fun. The science of video gaming technology was just being born and designers hadn’t infused important ideas into the game, designed to addict and bring the gamer back for more.
Ask any parent, video games will turn your kids into drooling zombies and eat at their brain. But is this statement really true? I asked my son if he thought video game companies use tactics to make kids addicted to their games. He disagreed that video games ‘eat at your brain’ or ‘turn kids into killers’ but he told me that companies are so competitive and have created games that make them more immersive in order to suck the player in. I had him explain what he meant… so before you read further, most of this are his observations to explain different ways video games addict you. This is not an article coming from ‘Mom’ but a 15-yr-old boy who spends most of his video game time watching You-tube videos of professional gamers playing video games. Does this make him an expert? I know he can walk through most of his friends on games he’s never played… so we’ll call him a semi-expert on the topic of video game tricks. Of course, I added my two-cents because there are 2 points of view to every story!
#5 Vast Landscapes
Games that are open world games like Skyrim, Fallout, Breath of the Wild and Ghost Recon create a giant environment for you to explore. Considering how much technology has advanced over the years it is not surprising that players get sucked into worlds very like our own. This makes players start to view their characters as part of themselves causing more addiction to that game. Being in an unending world where anything can happen (except you can never really die) makes you feel not only immortal but you get to start over a new life anytime the other gamers you’re with, suck. There are thousands of new people you can meet who have 1 big thing in common-you’re all on the same mission in the same game, in a world that feels so real.
#4 Never Leaving a Story Half Done
All good RPG’s (role playing game) have a storyline that draws you in exactly like a good book or a movie. They introduce the characters, build the plot, produce the conflict, lower the conflict, and then resolve. The thing about video games is, it will usually last longer than a book or movie since the progression is slowed by error from the player. The thing about this is until you reach the resolution, you are continuously hooked on the story waiting for the big fight and the after effect. Because you want to know what the conclusion to the story is, you will go back again and again to the game until the conflict has been resolved. Designers have made the game just easy enough to give you the hope of beating the game and just hard enough to be out of your reach to increase your time on the game. The ‘vast landscapes’ of places to go and new friends to meet make it easier to stay in this holding pattern for longer periods than a book or movie.
#3 Instantaneous Rewards
This is sort of like an ad campaign showing you the best its product has to offer. Video games show off cool fight scenes you can play in the beginning of the game to show the player what he will eventually become if he plays long enough. This hooks the player once his character loses everything and must start anew letting the player grow back to their former glory. Being reassured of the reward in the end, helps you to fight with confidence that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
#2Rewarding the Player Constantly
You can mostly see this tactic in iOS games like Candy Crush and my newest addiction and favorite Bubble Witch 3. The players are given rewards for doing almost everything except breathing. Even if I lose a round, the game will reward and encourage with fun sounds, bright colors and even a person giving messages of encouragement. All the rewarding keeps your brain focused on dopamine production and off the fact that you aren’t doing anything with your life. For me, these games tell me ‘you’re awesome’ and ‘spectacular’ and give me fireworks and exploding candies until my brain finally has enough constant rewards and I fall asleep.
#1 HYPE TRAAAAIIIIIIIN!!!
Companies let you know of new games in a series several months in advance. I HATE THIS. Anytime there’s anything new I have to hear about it from my son. First, he talks about it for a week, then he shows me the You-Tube videos of which I really don’t want to see, but can’t help watching because he’s shoved the phone into my face while I’m driving! Then they only put out small pieces of information at a time creating a giant train of consumers who are becoming more excited about what is to come. During the small trickle of info phase… I get to hear every day about how my son will borrow money from me to buy it or how he’ll earn money to buy it. This creates bigger sales because people have become so addicted to the hype that they will buy almost any piece of crap you throw at them. For a parent, the HYPE is the most irritating part about gaming. I don’t want to hear about it, I don’t want to pay for it… just ask me for it 1 time for your birthday instead of talking about it every day for 30 days— wearing me down doesn’t typically get you a new Steam card if you know what I mean.