Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chapter 3 from my Teen Video Game Addiction Workbook

Chapter 3: Are all games equally addictive?

According to experts in video game addiction, there are many games that present little or no risk for developing addiction. According to Dr. Brent Conrad, a psychologists who specialize in videogame addiction, it is the massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) that are the most likely to result in addiction.

What is it about these games that make it so difficult for teens (and adults) to control their level of game playing?

Dr. Conrad explains that the process of earning rewards during the game through a leveling system creates strong motivation, interest, and excitement. As you gamers know, at the very beginning of the game it could take minutes to reach the next level and gain new skills. However, moving through higher levels almost always takes more playing time – which then results in a commitment of weeks or months to a level up.

By the way, video game companies understand that by creating a game where a small commitment of time allows the gamer to succeed creates investment in the game and then allows for the customer to commit greater amounts of time, money, and energy into their product. Imagine if you started a game and the first level took three weeks to achieve? Chances are you would move on to another game.

MMORPG are more likely to result in addiction because there is no end to the game. One of the unique features of MMORPG’s is that there is no final “game over” scenario. As a result, gamers keep trying to level up and play until a new expansion pack is released -- which creates new levels and a new investment of time and energy and money.

Another part of the appeal of the MMORPG’s is the social interaction that happens during game play. As you gamers know, MMORPGs allow for players to interact with each other -- which creates an experience of having friends and being part of a community. Unfortunately, as was noted above, most video game addicts establish and maintain these social connections at the expense of real-world friendships and community connections.

MMORPGs also tend to produce addiction because they encourage collaboration and teamwork with other gamers across the world. The fact that multiple players, on different sides of the world, can interact and come together to overcome a common challenge adds to the excitement and interest -- which in turn motivates teens to continue to play.

Another unique part of the MMORPG experience is earning in-game currency. The creators of MMORPGs understand that accumulating wealth is very motivating (just as it is in 3D life). As you earn more game currency, you also achieve control, power, respect, influence, and status within the virtual world of the game.

As described in Chapter 2, video games are similar to slot machines in that they both use intermittent or variable ratio schedules to encourage maximum playtime. The “hook” for the gamer within the MMORPGs  is the gamer never knows how long it will take before a reward is earned -  he only knows that if he logs enough hours the reward will eventually come. Video game companies have figured out that this type of reward schedule encourages longer periods of play and encourages continued financial investment in the game.

MMORPGs are also addictive because they require team play in order to level up and advance. As the gamer joins a team, and experiences success as team member, the gamer feels a connection and feels responsible for advancing the goals with his comrades. The gamer wants his character to succeed so that he can make a greater contribution to the success of the team. Due to the fact that most tasks/goals in games can only be accomplished in a group, gamers want to be online whenever his teammates are also online -- and this generates a greater commitment and more total hours invested in the game.

MMORPGs also offer an incentive to continue to play because taking a break from the game can result in losing status or power. In order to prevent a loss of power and status, gamers make every attempt to stay online as much as possible.

Another part of what makes MMORPGs addictive is that short and unscheduled play is rarely rewarded. These games demand long-term commitment – which can last months or even years. Due to the enormous investment in developing a character, gamers obviously are committed to maintaining their character and advancing their standing within the game.

Perhaps what is most interesting and exciting to gamers is that the virtual world of the MMORPG allows players to create avatars that have qualities they wish they had in real life. Gamers can form relationships, develop talents and careers, and accomplish goals that would be difficult or impossible to accomplish in three-dimensional reality. As such, more than any other type game, MMORPGs offer teens a fool-proof escape from the complicated realities of school, family and friends.

Compared to other types of video games, MMORPGs allow gamers to experience a wide variation of feelings and powerful emotions. In the context of playing, the gamer can experience romance, marriage, friendship, power, and loyalty.  Unfortunately, the variety and intensity of emotions experienced during gaming are more interesting and satisfying than the emotions experienced off-line.

Would you trade your off line life for your online life? Yes/No/Unsure

What do you like the most about the avatars/characters that you have created?
Circle all that apply:
attractive to females/ sexually experienced/leadership/heroic/secretive/funny/ handsome.

How are you similar to your avatar/online character(s)?
Circle all that apply:
smart/creative/brave/powerful/strong/popular/aggressive/ruthless/kind/good looking/attractive to females /leader/heroic/secretive/funny/ sexually experienced.

What would be the worst part about giving up your avatar? Circle all that apply:
Loss of online friends/loss of time and money invested in the game/loss of excitement/loss of opportunities to problem solve and strategize/ loss of inter-game power and skills/loss of respect from the gaming community/loss of opportunities for teamwork and collaboration/ loss of feeling smart/ loss of the opportunity to be a hero/ loss of the virtual lover-girlfriend/ a sense of responsibility to the gaming guild-team.

1 comment:

  1. mostly children now a days are addicted to games, they spend more time in playing rather than studying..parents should not tolerate their children they should teach them how to balance their time from studying and playing.

    addiction Psychology