Video games are not really addictive in the clinical sense of the word. However, they are designed so that gamers will be hooked. These games are created so that gamers will spend more time playing the game. The games are challenging enough so that achievements can be very fulfilling and players would want to achieve more. These “wins” are what keep them playing the game, similar to how casinos work.
Games are mainly built with the same goal–to keep players playing–and the same formula in mind.
- High Score –
From the most basic games such as old-school Tetris to games such as Bejeweled Blitz and even the most sophisticated MMORPG ones, the high score is one of the most effective hooks. Here, players would keep on playing in return to earning points, or scores, and they would not stop until they get the next highest score. Most games today even have social media compatibility, so you can compare your score with friends and compete with them.
- Completing the Game-
Many games also have a gaming system where players would find themselves wanting to progress through levels and finally finish the game. This challenge becomes increasingly difficult and therefore leaving the players much more determined to beat the game.
- Role Playing –
There are also games where players can create characters and play roles to get into adventures and accomplish challenges. This allows players to be somewhat something that they have always wanted to be, such as in simulation games such as Sims, or play other role-playing games such as Final Fantasy. Becoming a character of your own choosing in the game makes players emotionally attached to it and to the game, and therefore giving them a sense of living a virtual life.
- Treasures and Discovery-
Other games have a big world, or even multi-worlds that players can go to and explore, making it exciting for players. Games such as World of Warcraft make players hooked by the thrill and accomplishment of discovering treasures and other items within the game.
- Virtual Relationships-
Many online games allow people not only to reinvent themselves into their dream characters but to also build relationships with other players in the game. This online gaming community can become a place for them to be themselves–or not themselves–and find company and acceptance which they cannot get in the real world.
These hooks show us that video game addiction is actually a multi-faceted issue that is as real as any addiction.
As with any addiction, game addiction also has risk factors. Some people, especially kids, are more prone to it. They may either have poor social relationships, have very low attention span and are easily bored, or have a void in their lives that video games can fill.
Combined with these risk factors and the fact that video games are intentionally designed to keep players playing, this kind of addiction that gets kids as young as seven years old hooked, is something that teachers, parents and the government should take measures to prevent.
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