Rewards and punishments are used to create schedules. They make player do the things the company wants them to do when they want them to do it. A simple example:
- playing every day rewards the player with bonus items
- taking a break punishes the player by making them weaker relative to other players
And of course there are those wonderful companies which reward players that spend money and punish those that don't.
WHO already recognizes the existence of a gaming disorder:
It's only a matter of time before this industry is regulated.
- Put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode. On Android, that hides the notification icons for IMs, texts, calls, app notifications. Often, I turn on my phone screen to look something up and immediately get distracted by the notifications. Then I forget what I was originally going to look up.
- Remove your favourite sites "quick bookmark" icons on your browser's landing page. Often I mindlessly click those icons when I open the browser, even though I had a different purpose in mind when I opened it.
- Use the grayscale mode on your phone if you have it. It turns the entire display black and white, and makes app icons, images etc look less vibrant and less noticeable. It's a hack that makes me want to go on my phone less often, or just use it for the exact purpose I turned it on for.
Or pihole! That’s the most effective.
As for the topic. "(Computer) addiction" is a symptom of a (myriad of) problem(s). It could be depression, it could be the person is bullied, it could be autism, it could be "just" puberty.
It's just getting the players used to gambling and filtering out those who are resistant (they won't make money by going on a spending spree).
Ban virtual gambling.
But dammit if that didn't describe them exactly.
Nowadays I keep hearing about younger brothers and sisters who are literally unable to get off their computers, consoles, and devices. I do relate to them a lot, but I don't know if it's becoming more serious over time, or if we are more attentive to it.
I hope it's not the former; I made a lot of friends playing and making video games, but it's not a particularly productive pastime if you're only playing them. Of course, you can disagree, but I am personally a little regretful that I didn't end up picking up an instrument or spent more time on my drawing skills. My programming developed quite a lot during my teens, but I definitely could have toned it down and 'played outside.'
Sounds like you had a very similar experience to me. I was addicted to MMORPGs from around age 14-18. Almost every moment of free time I had I was playing these games.
I realised when I got to university how much time and potential I had wasted and I was becoming more interested in entrepreneurship which helped shift my addiction to something a little more productive.
That said, I also regret spending most of my late teens and early twenties working on hopeless startup dreams fuelled by the delusionally over optimistic self-help books I was reading at the time.
After going through a bit of a crisis in my mid twenties I finally feel I've reached a good balance between, but arguably I've wasted many of my best years. Even productive addictions can be bad. You often hear professional sports stars and business people echo these feelings about not prioritising the important things in life: family, friends, etc.
This on the whole is extremely unlikely. First, if you developed programming skills, you was not playing civilization all the time. You was playing civilization some and coding some. Second, if you would really literally spent playing all night long and then went to school and then spent all night playing etc, you would be extremely sleep deprived and you would not learned much - not in school and not coding.
The distinction matter. The thing that distinguish addiction from playing a lot is consequences on rest of your life - school, work, relationships with family or friends or ability to find mate.
I knew people who were in latter category - failing in college, going to work sleep deprived to the point of being drag on team, divorcing. It is different then high schooler wasting time.
Turns out that cajoling a geodistributed collection of high-strung egoists into cooperating over extended periods of time is a skill that's not only useful for games. Who'd have thunk.
You were addicted to Civ or old school Defender arcades because it was too much fun (for a while), not because they had a team exploiting every weak point. Somewhere along the line (f2p with premium currencies, maybe monthly subscriptions) it switched to cutting your fix with some heroin to ensure it's addictive enough.
To me that's qualitatively different, and in need of regulation.
Games used to be about making the computer do what the user wanted, now games are about making users do what the computer wants.
Rather, games used to be about packing in features players and the developers thought would be cool and fun, and then the game would be sold for a flat price. Now games are about extracting as much money as possible with a minimum of interesting game mechanics and a maximum of psychological tricks. It's not true of all modern games, but is definitely a growing trend.
It's all well and good rationally formulating a difference between fun and addictive, but if our monkey brains can't tell the difference, should we really be treating them differently?
When you look back on "addictive" behavior, you sense the passage of time and energy (and resources/money) and feel neutral (at best) about the behavior. The hard part is in the moment where you don't especially want to perform the addictive behavior, but it's too uncomfortable to do anything else.
Loot boxes, with all the tricks of "almost" winning rolls, and currencies that intentionally distance you from actual money so you're not sure how much you're spending, or MMO's with the "Skinner box" grind. Those are pushing much more into real addictions exploiting people who know it's doing them no good. They're using the same addictive techniques as gambling, such as scratch cards that have 2 of 3 jackpot spaces when you scratch. They all cross the line into exploitative and need some level of regulation just like gambling. Particularly when it's pitched at minors.
That UK gambling regulation has been liberalised in the last 25 years, and there's been a huge growth of problems stemming from that is no surprise.
But was it a waste of time? I don't think so.
Granted there was a lot of brain-dead time spent in Duke Nukem 3D, Civilization, and other games, but that time triggered a general interest and curiosity in what is happening. That leap from just playing to wondering what is going on was invaluable IMHO, and you wouldn't have got it without some serious screentime.
First you start poking around inside the *.cfg files for Doom and DN3D, and the next thing you know it is a couple of years down the line and you're a late-teen sitting up late into the early morning fiddling around with laser-pointers and webcams naively trying to write machine vision algorithms from scratch, or using Wireshark to to try and reverse engineer the server browser in the initial release of Steam, or strapping crappy wireless 9V cameras (1) into water bottle rockets and trying to process the video coming back via also-crappy USB video capture devices (2) (...some personal anecdotes for you there).
Now fast forward a few more years and I've got a degree in computer science and a pretty well-paid job as a software engineer that means I don't really need to worry about money, and I still have some good headroom left in my career to grow still without too much effort.
Would I have got here if I had stopped messing about on the computer and instead diluted that learning time with trying to play the violin or piano? I doubt it - that spark of curiosity as a teenager started a life-long (I presume) interest and set me on a path for a well-paid and desirable career. I wouldn't change any of that time at all.
1 - You can still buy similar things I was just amazed to see: https://uk.banggood.com/Wireless-Mini-Surveillance-Camera-Mo...
2 - no-longer available apart from ebay it seems: https://www.ebay.co.uk/i/183280630638
I don't know how much of that is the deep dark truth, but there needs to be some separation between the harnessing of computing power for political, social & economic progress and living a normal life.
I suppose the marathon is 'healthier', but it's the same basic drivers, pushed to a somewhat unhealthy degree.
> picking up an instrument or spent more time on my drawing skills.
As a pastime, I am not sure I see the "productive" part of playing an instrument or drawing. For the instrument part in particular, while any piece has an interpretation part, does it warrant a "productive" label, more than paying a game a specific way ?
Drawing can have a commercial aspect, but then is it a pastime ? (we'd also then have to take pro gaming into account if we go into these length)
Playing a game is pure consumption, drawing or making music is pure production.
I don't find anything intrinsically more valuable or praiseworthy in playing an instrument than in shooting freethrows.
Creativity exists in different forms.
We get into muddy territories, but playing games (electronic or not) is doing something within rules, that’s not so far from making sounds or pictures with given tools.
I've worked in videogames for 25 years and the industry is "oblivious" to the harm it is causing because it's very profitable. There has been little innovation in games for the last ten years compared to the innovation in the business model used by the industry which has seen rapid change to grab children attention for as long as possible.
These smartphone games are just so incredibly mindless in ways that those optimization games aren't. While you're not doing anything important you are actually doing things and solving problems.
Things are so much easier now... You don't have to touch an autoexec.bat, or deal with extended memory. The amount of system tweaking you have to do to get decent performance is minimal. And installing a game almost never borks your computer so badly you have to madly try to do an OS restore, trying to preserve everything and make it look like you hadn't broken the family computer...
I. E. What percent would lead normal lives, what amount would become addicted to something else like gambling, drugs, or television, and such.
What I am wondering is how much of this is due to games being at fault and how much of it is on the person + biological inclination to become easily addicted?
Yea, games do design tricks to get people to keep playing, but so do casinos and there is very little sympathy in society for people who are addicted to gambling.
Gaming addiction is still relatively new and needs more studying. The question I pose is, if someone was going to get addicted, would it be better for a person to be addicted to games, or would you prefer something else?
This is because government understands while there is obviously variation between people, the key drivers for these things are not innate, rather social. ie opportunity, environment.
This is highlighted by other addiction patterns - painkillers, tobacco, even caffeine - these are not limited to a small group of 'losers'.
If we could inhibit the exploitation of addictive characteristics for profit, that would be good.
(Cue slippery slope arguments!)
Such help only works if the individual actually wants to change itself, and the realization for this to be necessary can require quite a bit of "damage" to occur. Especially if parents (inadvertently) enable the behavior. They themselves got to fight in that dispute as well, just sending your child to therapist tends to be a waste of time. Didn't work on the few anecdotes I've seen/heard. Didn't work on me when my parents tried long ago. Took embarrassingly long for me to finally seek help with the intent to change.
Btw, if anyone near Berlin (Ger) is willing to give a Dev with little professional experience and lots of blank space on the CV a chance, please shoot me a message.
Munich-based so can't help you directly, but look for the various marketing agency networks. They all have offices with openings in Berlin and have a constant need for new staff.
The question is - is it solely buyer/user beware or do the vendors have a duty of care? Note these games products are often aimed at children.
The opioids and tabacco lawsuits would suggest people expect companies to have have some duty of care.
In the gambling industry, governments tend to strongly regulate, and place duty of care rules on companies.
As data and machine learning leads to optimization of exploitation of human weaknesses for gain, what do we do?
There are already open source games - how would you manage that? make it illegal - imprison people?? ( like for drug use )?
This problem is at the heart of the question of freewill/or whether the strong should be allowed to ruthlessly exploit the weak.
That is interesting, I've definitely gone through periods where I felt "addicted" to freeciv and openTTD. I wouldn't make them illegal though, they can be helpful tools for managing your mental state.
So if it was decided they are harmful - you could consider the drug analogy. Making with intent to supply is illegal or being involved in distribution - not actually sure about creation for own use.
It might sound like a silly idea - but some countries have actually banned video games. Malaysia banned arcade games about 20 years ago.
However it often takes a different view on profiting/promoting/supplying harmful things.
Back to the point about free will - versus whether people should be allowed to ruthlessly exploit others.
Quite often people are allowed to do stupid things to themselves ( free will ) , but other people are not allowed to exploit it.
There are ratings on the games for a reason. Also, there are already laws regarding children and gambling, they simply have to enforce them.
I personally can't point to a single thing a parent can do in order to greatly reduce the mental health crisis and I'm not sure it's yet well understood. What is clear though is that behaviours that lead to suicide (e.g. depression) are spot-able and treatable to some extent.
Narcistic bad psychology based upon what they want and expect from others as the standard of health instead of trying to understand motivations and incentives. That has been a reoccurring theme with later discredited bad psychology like treating homosexuality as a mental illness to be cured, or infamous uses of institutionalization of "troublesome" people. It betrays an ironically terrible theory of mind.
Now there certainly are uses as unhealthy coping mechanisms and executive dysfunction but addiction loses meaning when abused to apply to literally every source of pleasure.
The pathological cases would be better referred to as compulsive behavior instead of addiction - a subtle but very important distinction.
Of course I'd prefer to play games rather than do chores. And as a father I'm concerned that my son is spending too much time on the iPad playing minecraft. Is he an addict? Should there be intervention? He does seem to experience craving. Could it be a persistent compulsive behavior? For now he's able to put down the iPad and do the homework we all know needs to be done, so no, I don't view that as addiction and I don't think it fits the definition. But if it becomes an overriding compulsion to the exclusion of most other behaviors, then absolutely we should call that addiction and treat it like addiction.
"Big Tech" knows this quite well I think and we all should know that our A/B testing that's focused on user engagement is, in fact, curating addictive behavior.
Tobacco was taxed to cover the cost of healthcare associated with it, so games and social media should be taxed the same way.
The problem is that highly specialised clinics breed power imbalances - you don’t usually have another option for where to go because other doctors refuse to touch the subject matter now that there’s a specialised clinic for it, so getting treatment involves conforming to whatever the clinic doctor demands of you, no matter how undignified or inhumane.
Youth is wasted on the young.
You could make the same argument about hardcore soccer fans.
Its also common for domestic abuse to happen after the abusers team loses.