Effects of Video Game Addiction on the Body and Mind
7th Hour Psychology
For most young people, playing games on a computer, video game console, or handheld device is just a regular part of the day. Most are able to juggle the multiple demands of school, sports, work or chores, and family life. Gaming becomes an addiction when it starts to interfere with a person's relationships or their pursuit of other goals, such as good grades or being a contributing member of a sports team. Computer and video games, especially the massive multi-online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as "World of Warcraft," allow players to behave very differently from their normal ...view middle of the document...
Not "addictive" in the clinical sense of the word, but game designers are always looking for ways to make their games more interesting and increase the amount of time people will spend playing them. There are Web sites devoted to gaming design where gamers try to answer the question, "What makes a video game addictive?" They want you - once you log in or pick up that controller - to never want to stop playing. Consequently, games are designed to be just difficult enough to be truly challenging, while allowing players to achieve small accomplishments that compel them to keep playing. In that respect, the design of video games is similar to the design of gambling casinos, which will allow players to have small "wins" that keep them playing. There are several "hooks" that are built into games with the intent of making them "addictive":
* The High Score
Whether you've tried out the latest edition of Grand Theft Auto or haven't played a video game since Pac-Man, the high score is one of the most easily recognizable hooks. Trying to beat the high score (even if the player is trying to beat his own score) can keep a player playing for hours.
* Beating the Game
This "hook" isn't used in online role-playing games, but is found in nearly every gaming system. The desire to beat the game is fed as a player "levels up," or finds the next hidden clue.
Role-playing games allow players to do more than just play - they get to actually create the characters in the game and embark on an adventure that's somewhat unique to that character. Consequently, there's an emotional attachment to the character, and the story makes it much harder to stop playing.
The exploration or discovery tactic is most often used in role-playing games. One of the most popular online games currently is World of Warcraft, and a good portion of the game is spent exploring imaginary worlds. This thrill of discovery (even of places that don't really exist) can be extremely compelling.
Again, this is primarily an online "hook." Online role-playing games allow people to build relationships with other players. For some kids, this online community becomes the place where they're most accepted, which draws them back again and again.
Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) can be especially addictive because there's no ending. Unlike standard games like Super Mario Brothers, where you win when you save the princess, you can't rescue the princess in an MMORPG. Another consideration is that some people are more prone to addiction of any kind than others, gaming or otherwise. Kids who are easily bored, have poor relationships with family members, feel like outcasts at school, or tend toward sensation-seeking are more easily drawn into video game addiction because it fills a void and satisfies needs that aren't met elsewhere. In addition to the psychological addiction, it's now believed that there may be a physiological element...