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Adraeus

Just One Fix: a special report on game addiction

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Read here Questions to ponder while reading: What can game developers do to stem the numbers of afflicted game addicts from increasing? Should a games industry advocacy group propose public policy to place health warnings on marketing collateral for game products (e.g., Surgeon’s General)? Should game developers integrate health-related ethics into organizational politics? Or should game developers include the mentally ill into marketing strategy as a strong target market? Note: I typed this by hand for you. [Edited by - Adraeus on September 4, 2004 3:22:04 AM]

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Other than, y'know, not make games, I don't think there's much that game developers can reasonably do. Most alcohol advertisements these day include a note to the effect of "cool people who really appreciate fine liquor don't guzzle it down to forget their troubles". And yet, alcoholics don't seem to have taken note.

Any discussion of an addiction that is at least partially psychological necessarily invokes the question of whether the individual is responsible for his own addiction. As long as I'm comparing alcoholism, I should point out that IMHO alcoholics probably have a lot more of a leg to stand on WRT blaming culture and civilization than computer game addicts. Social events are organized around drinking, not computer games... and even in the case of things like LAN parties, there's no real way for "irresponsible gaming" to crop up. Compare drinking games at frat parties.

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While the game itself is not to blame, it certainly doesn't help that most MMOs actually require massive amounts of time to get to the top tier of what the game has to offer. You compare this with any single player game(even a massive single player game won't break 200/300 hours or so of single player gameplay), and the time people spend in MMOs just progressing their character is really out of whack.

I doubt seriously that the intent of the developers is to take so much time of the players, but it certainly doesn't hurt the business side of things when it takes players about as much time to get through one expansion, as it does to produce the next one. Do something like this in a single player game and I doubt you would have so many fans.

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Quote:
Original post by digitec devil
I doubt seriously that the intent of the developers is to take so much time of the players, but it certainly doesn't hurt the business side of things when it takes players about as much time to get through one expansion, as it does to produce the next one. .


That's exactly the intent of the developers; it's called a time-sink.

Traditional MMOG design is littered with sinks for getting rid of things, such as money, time, XP, low-level items, etc. The goal is to keep the players playing for as long as possible, though not necessarily for as many hours as possible.

It's a sincerely horrid system, since it always assumes that anyone buying an MMOG will spend the next 5 years playing it. I blame UO and EQ :)

Allan

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I don't really think health warnings would be practical:

Warning: This game may seem real and immersive, but it's not. Don't play it too much.

or

Warning: This game is addictive.


In fact, the second one would actually help promote the game. And who's to decide if a game is addictive or not? To be honest I think the thing about addiction to games is a load of BS. It's an escape from reality. What's so harmful about it being addictive anyway?

People who think they're "addicted" to a game deserve to lose all the time they waste anyway.

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I think that there are much better solutions to the problem than placing health warnings on MMO's or other games. I would definitely say that the problem is mainly with the online games that just take forever to accomplish anything. Nothing has ever been so addicting.

Online games provide continual stimulus from the interaction and challenge of playing with other people. Offline games usually are very fun at first, but then get "stale" as the player learns the tricks to the AI and has found all the secrets, beaten all the levels, etc. Offline games also provide stopping points rather frequently: after levels, for cutscenes, and at save points. Online games simply cannot be paused or turned off at certain points because you have other people that depend on you. This causes a definite problem because it conflicts with real life; addicts might find themselves neglecting friends, not eating as much, lacking proper hygiene, etc.

Developers of online games want to make money of course. They create a time-sink to get you to play longer. Here is what I think makes these games so addicting. Some apply to all online games, some just apply to MMORPG's.


-Human interaction without actually meeting or being with people
-The amount of time it takes to "succeed" in any task
-The peer pressure of others urging you to keep playing, along
with your own desire to level-up, etc
-The mechanics of the game being designed around dependency; you
have to have other people to do basically anything in the
game, except crafting, and some other minor things. But the
pivotal points of the game depend on "groups."
-The makers of the game dangling the apple in front of you... get
to the next level to get more skills, do this quest to get
special items, run for hours to get places. Also a lot of
the best content is supposed to be at the end of the game.
No one can deny the beginning levels aren't nearly as fun as
higher levels where combat is more involved and you can
explore more dungeons. Each level yields more rewards but
also take more time. You have to play for hundreds of hours
to be allowed to enjoy the best parts of a product you paid
for!


Seriously, I always wondered what kind of people had the time to make it to the end game of a MMORPG.

I doubt any of the above aspects of addiction will disappear from these games on their own, because it pleases the consumer and the producer. The consumer gets more gameplay and the producer gets more money.

I would suggest removing some of these aspects of addiction, except that I know that for every hurdle that has to be crossed the reward is that much more pleasing. The more time and more difficult a task is, the better you feel after accomplishing it. So to remove any of these parts, would in essence make the game less fun, which no one wants to do.

The only other solution I can thing of is encouraging players to spend less time on the game. But again, this is not something the developers want to do. However I think that pressure from friends of players has urged developers to take certain actions towards this end.

[Edited by - Boder on September 4, 2004 6:53:24 PM]

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Game playing can be considered a hobby, it is something people like to do and enjoy to do.

I really doubt that it was just the people in that article addicted to games, i think that other family issues went on to make them have to go to play games. Games are escapism, you play them to escape reality. If they had a good household and stable connection with their loved one they probably wouldn't be so addicted into the game or make online relationships.

Game Developers should not have to change their way of developing since a few people can't play the game without getting addicted. It's like asking the beer making companies to make their beer less alcoholic. People drink beer to get drunk, it doesn't make sense to make it less alcoholic.

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Quote:
Original post by red_sodium
Oh yeah, and

Quote:
At a particular low point, Pierce received a phone call from someone her husband had married in the game.


This can't be for real, what a loser!


MMORPG marriages are actually quite common, if... creepy.

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Its an immersion in the game. Its put in there to make it more real. Your character (keyword character) can have a wife or husband. Its not meant to be taken like they are in love in real life(even tho they COULD be).

MMORPG's are your character not YOU. You are not in the game at all, you are acting out how your character acts out.

Edit: i can understand giving out your email address or your AIM SN or something but your phone number. Thats a bit creepy.

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Just a question. Do you think it would be alright to be addicted to a sport like baseball or basketball?

I know a lot of people that play online games competetively because they like the challenge, in which case they think of it like a sport.

Most of the people your talking about have seemed to have family relationships with kids and wives or living with their mother (i take it from his mom knowing a lot about him). Don't you think that their relationships could have caused them to go into playing the game addictively? They might feel really pressured at home as well as work or school and the only way they can escape or get the time to escape is on the computer. They might not be given time to escape when just at home (such as mothers being too bothersome or family issues) and they feel when they get on the game it is their world, they don't have a lot of these problems.

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