Why Do People Play Social Network Games?

Well, according to one expert, these games are designed to be addictive.

Dr Hilarie Cash of internet and computer addiction program reSTART says just that: "These games are designed to be extremely addictive." That's not all! "If you're a stay-at-home mum, once it takes hold, it starts interfering with the time it takes to spend with a kid."

Lock up your housewives! Social network games are going to get them.

Dr Cash tells The Daily Beast that game companies like Zynga have figured out a way to keep players involved by a reward structure that includes a steady stream of rewards, points, etc.

"That's absolutely consciously built into the games," she says, "I've talked to video game developers who acknowledge this."

Whether it be alcohol, smoking, eating, net surfing, shopping or gaming, people can be addicted a bajillion different things. Some people are addicted to work, and some are addicted to drugs. Others are addicted to Mafia Wars. Go figure.

Mafia Wars and mums Who Play It [The Daily Beast]


Comments

    I don't like grouping addiction to gambling, gaming (largely the same thing) etc. with addictions to substances like nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. There is, to me, a pretty clear distinction between the physical (and psychological) dependancy on a compound that has to be ingested into the body, and the dependency on a cycle of reward found in certain game types.

    The substance addicts are addicted to the substance itself. The gaming/gambling addicts are psychologically dependant on the game, and to the endorphin rush it gives at certain climactic moments. I can't help but view those two things differently.

    Not really a disagreement with the gist of the article though. WoW is built in exactly the same way, so don't blame solely Zynga for this.

    I'm so sick of these dbags. Calling them experts is a misnomer, at least to me, studying something that's only been around 3 years or so does not make you an expert. It makes you a theorist.

    But besides that, saying that they 'absolutely consciously' building reward structures into games is like saying that people are 'absolutely consciously' putting eggs into omelettes. You don't go to work for free, you don't eat rice cakes because you like the taste – everything in life is based off a reward structure.

      So... since you seem to know better what makes an expert, how long exactly does it take to become one? Were the scientists who built the first atom bomb not experts because the bomb wasn't 'out' for very long? I realise that's not a perfect analogy but I resent the dismissal of someone's credentials out of hand.

        Straight on the offensive, hey? I can dig it. My first response is 'better than who?'. When I said 'at least to me' I was echoing that this was my opinion. I'd argue though that Oppenheimer and his team were experts in their field - the field of physics, which you could argue has existed as long as time itself.

        I do find it interesting that of my post, this was the point you decided to take further, as it was secondary. The only reason I said it is 'experts' are popping up for everything these days and I find them less and less convincing and not just in the case of gaming and the horrors it has wreaked upon the world. My biggest problem with the 'experts' is they generally come out and make a song and dance over something any rational person realises out of hand.

        Like reward structures are enticing.

    The key aspect of addiction I believe is the brain becoming adjusted to receiving pleasurable signals from behaviour. Substance addicts get the pleasure response from the drug itself, while addicts of games get a similar (at least neurologically) high from the pleasure brought on by the rewards of the game.

    If you give a dog a tasty treat when it performs a perticular behaviour, the pleasure centres in it's brain light up as positive hormones are released. Its a crucial aspect of neurology that allows us to learn. Without it, you have a text-book psychopath who never learns the rules.

    you can short-cut that pleasure/behaviour cycle by injecting substances into yourself, but getting excited by the rewards of a game is not so different from a trainer giving his dog positive feedback for good behaviour.

    While gaming addiction may be a relatively new problem, addiction generally is not. Sexual addiction has been documented for quite some time, with addicts hooked on the pleasure hormones released, not really on the act itself. Gaming addiction is very much the same.

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