Gaming has become one of the most prominent branches of the entertainment industry. If you take a look at TV shows and movie projects, you will see that many of them are now inspired by popular video games. It’s also undeniable that many young people play video games too much. People go as far as saying that kids and young adults suffer from video game addiction. It’s not uncommon to find a gamer who spends 5 or even more hours a day playing online.
It is also worth pointing out that when people talk about gaming addiction they also refer to casino games or gambling. Although only a small percentage of casino goers are problem gamblers this doesn’t mean it’s not worrying. Luckily most players are responsible with spending and where they play. They opt for licensed operators with reliable payment options like Paysafecard casinos. They can easily find these sites via this link https://playsafecanada.org/casino-payments/paysafecard/ and explore other features that operators have to offer. To understand addiction to gaming we will go over gambling addiction as well, and see where these are similar and different.
Are Casino Games Addictive?
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If someone has a gambling addiction, you’d assume that it is because the games in a casino are addictive. This is actually wrong. There are many social casino sites that host the same content as real money casinos. Moreover, you can also play at an online casino for free without spending any money. So, it’s really not the internal game mechanics or incentives that foster gambling addiction. The triggers are external.
People succumb to regular gambling fallacies and start to believe that karma or good look will eventually come their way. They keep chasing the dream of getting rich overnight, and this idea is that one’s life can change drastically for the better. That being said, there are certain game mechanics that prevent them from abandoning this ideal.
Slots and Skinner Box
There is a design philosophy in the video game industry that is named an operant conditioning chamber experiment conducted by B.F Skinner. It is called the skinner box and the idea is to condition a player to continue playing, by reinforcing the desired behaviour. Slots have been the most popular casino content for decades, and a few of these games have performed exceptionally well. The idea is to strike the right balance between hit frequency and rewards.
Slots need to reward players for spending money, but they need to reward them in such a way that it is profitable for the casino. At the same time, the rewards need to be meaningful enough in order for users to continue playing. Basically, they need to keep the idea of a big win alive and prevent users from becoming too frustrated and stopping, due to a lack of rewards.
How Video Games Become Addictive
First off, addiction is a strong word when it comes to excessive gaming. There is no special chemical reaction within the body that forces people to play. Eventually, games become boring, and players find another title to enjoy. Developers of online games are fully aware of this fact, and they actually design their experiences around out.
Free-to-play or freemium games really took off at the time when people started massively using smartphones and social networks. Freemiums are monetized through in-game transactions, and through ads. So the idea was to keep players logging in regularly on daily basis. They needed these constant user-engagement numbers in order to stay as profitable as possible. In other words, they never had a goal of becoming an award-winning video game or having a high skill cap. The idea with freemium is to keep players casually engaged daily for 20 minutes or so.
This was done through an energy system that refills on a timer. In other words, if you want to play more, you either have to watch the ads, recruit other players, or you need to pay for these energy resources. Obviously, the best resources are given to those who directly pay, which is why these games are often called, free to play but pay to win.
The energy system also does another thing, it creates a habit of playing. Users really enjoy it when they can be efficient, and in order to do that they don’t want to waste their energy. If it takes 4 hours for the energy bar to be filled, then not playing every 4 hours will result in unnecessary energy loss. Meaning, this isn’t an actual addiction, it’s really a habit that players develop, because they become invested in the game.
Online Games With Gambling Mechanics
The core of casino games is RNG or randomness. You never know and have little way of influencing the outcome. For many this is frustrating, but getting rare rewards in this way, can result in a very positive reaction. Game designers are fully aware of this, and they have embraced this concept.
Having rewards based on randomness also ensures higher user engagement. Ultimately players rarely get what they want through this random system, so they need to keep playing in order to get more chances or more rolls. It is a frustrating philosophy that artificially boosts the reply value of certain content.
Many stakeholders don’t really care about user experience, they are mainly interested in user engagement metrics. To that end, developers don’t really want to create content that players get to finish once and be done with it. They want them to repeat their dungeon runs or do the same arena battles over and over. Since rewards are RNG-based players need to grind daily or weekly, before they get the stuff they want.
If players find this boring, then they always have the option to pay for loot boxes and again hope that RNG is in their favour. In other words, content becomes so tedious that players are ready to pay in order to avoid this grind. Since many players are making these purchases it’s easy to draw a parallel between loot boxes and casino games. You continue to pour in money in order to get what you want.
Other Features That Make Games Addictive
In addition to features that reinforce continuous play that are other aspects that make players care about the game.
- Active Community – Fans love to discuss this hobby with other fans, and create separate online communities or forums for these discussions.
- Competitive Scene – Many love to compete and fine-tune their skills. Thanks to the growth of eSports there is a big incentive to get better and compete.
- Social Activity – One of the main appeals of online games is that there is a chat and apps like discord that players use while gaming. In other words, it’s a social experience that people bond over.
- Escapism – Many young people struggle in their real lives. They turn to games because they view them as an even playing field where they can thrive regardless of gender, social status, or physical challenges. They can get a sense of achievement that the real world doesn’t offer.
In other words, young people really care about this hobby. It’s fun and engaging, and they have a lot of positive memories related to gaming. That is what keeps them interested.