Are Video Games Addictive?
A word to the wise:
If you haven’t noticed how big video games have become over the last 50 years, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention. Whether it’s Candy Crush on your phone, World of Warcraft on your PC or Super Smash brothers on your console, video games have the ability to completely pull you in. The question is are games just fun or are video games addictive?
Recently, I have been playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and I have been having a blast! It is the first game in quite a few months that has really pulled me in and got me to play regularly. Before that, I used to play both Fornite and Battlefield 1 with my friend group a couple times a week. But that ended for the most part early in the spring of 2018.
Typically, I noticed myself gaming more in the winter months and much less during the summer when the weather is nicer. To my surprise, now that I am gaming again, some of the same people I used to game with on Fortnite in the spring, are still playing…nightly!
At first, I thought this was absolutely crazy. So, how has the game captured their attention since its release date in July 2017? Well, I did a little digging, and this is what I’ve found.
There is no “End” to the game:
Some of my best memories of gaming were from when I was a kid playing Halo with my best friend for hours and hours. In story mode you could choose the difficulty and play the game until the very end. It was amazingly fun and it hooked us big time. But after beating the story, we were done. Maybe we would pick up a new game, but often we would just finish up the game and go outside to do some other activity.
Now, there is no longer a pre-defined end to games. MMORPG (online role-playing games) are a good example of this. There are always updates, new missions, raids, social features and etc. to keep you playing non-stop.
Even FPS (first person shooter) games no longer have predefined ends. The games are no longer centered around a story more, instead they are focused on online game modes with no beginning or ends, just constant playing. When the game ends it immediately puts you in a lobby with a 30 second timer until the next match starts!
Rewards, rewards and more rewards!
Fortnite is one of the best current examples of a reward system. The games reward system is based on, not only daily goals, but seasons where you have a predetermined timeline to complete as many in game missions as possible. Each time you complete a mission or level up, you get a reward. Rewards can be anything from a new outfit for your character, a background for your loading screen or a dance move you can use with your character in-game.
The social aspect:
Humans are social creatures, there is not doubt about that. Unfortunately, in this fast pace world we live in, it can often be hard to meet up with friends when we are busy with work, family and other things. And for others who are more introverted, it can be quite difficult and scary to go out in the world to meet people and socialize.
Video games provide a platform to socialize from the comfort and safety of our home. Instead of going out to a pub, people can just flick on their gaming console of choice and start chatting with friends and ‘spending time together.’ No only that, but we can now socialize with people all around the world!
Games often have a type of in-game currency now that surprisingly makes the game even more appealing to some audiences. For example, some games provide a type of in-game currency that must be earned. Gamers will aim to increase their wealth to gain more respect and pride in their skill within that game. Users can use that currency to increase their status within the game as well as purchasing power.
Other games like Fortnite have a paid entry into a season. Players use real money to pay for the season, players then have the opportunity to win back in-game currency to purchase the next season or other in-game purchases. This drives the gamers to play more often, so that they have enough time to get as much of the in-game currency as possible.
Games evolve while you are offline:
I’ve never played the game, so do get mad at me if the details aren’t correct, but my friends started playing a game called ARK. In this game you start out with nothing. Slowly you begin to harvest food, find supplies and build shelter for yourself. You have to feed yourself by hunting and cooking. They loved the game because it was so realistic to them.
A week or two later, I went over to their house for a party and noticed that they had the game running on their TV in the middle of the party. I thought this was a bit weird. When I asked why they still had it on, they told me it was because people online could destroy the shelter they had built and steal all their valuables.
This seemed absolutely crazy to me, but from the developer’s perspective it makes complete sense. What better way to keep gamers hooked, than to create a world in which they are rewarded for staying online, all the time, and punished when they turn the game off!
Yep, you heard me. Gaming disorder is now officially a mental health condition. According to the World Health Organization, a gaming disorder is characterized as impaired control over gaming. In other words, gaming is prioritized over other interests and daily activities, with negative consequences, for a duration of at least 12 months.
Honestly, this shouldn’t actually surprise anyone. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) already considers pathological gambling as a health issues, what makes video gaming any different?
Video Games Aren’t All bad!
Thankfully, video games in moderation aren’t bad for you at all. Quite the opposite actually! There have been links identified between regular video game play and positive effects for your brain and body. I will look deeper into this for my next article to identify how they can be beneficial.
Have you ever found yourself addicted to video games? What is one specific game or just video games in general?