Monday, August 20, 2007

Addiction of a different kind

It has happened. There comes a time when the maker of a drug tries his own product to the extent that he becomes addicted to it.

This is such a drug.

In looking at it, and the many other kinds of games that people have labeled as addicting I find there are many easily quantifiable properties of addiction in video games.

1. Tasks
2. Persistence
3. Simple rewards

People like tasks. They like to click a person and have them say "Go forth young Druid Warrior and bring me hence the head of 35 yellow Squigglsproing." and you gleefully go out and do it because you get a simple reward, for a simple task, in a complex world. Feels good.

Persistence is just there so you come back, again and again you return because you know that your avatar is waiting. You know that when left the city of Harvest Town that people were busy there and when you come back things have changed. The raccoon in the store probably has turnips on sale, or a new desk perhaps. Its safe, you like it there.

The tasks you did and the rewards you gained are there waiting for you too. Killing 35 Bloodfanged Gnar Gnar certainly isn't all for nothing.

The addiction chain is easy to follow, its been around for as long as people so it's nothing new. What people miss, is that it's very easy to interfere with it. We aren't talking a physical need, so your body doesn't demand that you play WoW and cause you to feel like you are dying if you go too long without it.

I'm talking about getting those first few links in to the addiction chain and really shackling a player to your game. It's very hard. People try all the time. They tried and failed? (inside joke) Well yes most do. Its irony itself that a site called is mostly loaded with horrible games that repel every fiber of my being. It's hard to call that addicting. Maybe revolting?

One or two titles there fun, and I could see myself going back. I have no desire to though, because the more I play there, the more I realize that I'm getting nothing back. I'm not being rewarded with anything I can look at an hour from now and say "I did that."

What else? Clicking. Nobody likes to have their flow interrupted by a menu. I hate it when I click "Play again!" after a game is over and it takes me to two different "OK or Cancel?" boxes before the game starts again. I agreed to them once already, let's not ask again.

That last one is an observation of my own site. I get playing Explodinator for an hour because it's so challenging, and yet so easy... but one tiny mistake and you are doomed but you just don't know it. I love this game, I play it about 30 times in a row. I loath when the game ends and I have to click OK 4 times before it starts again.

Getting addicted to your own games is great, I get insights I would otherwise have missed.

1 comment:

Devin Rose said...

They tried and died.