Sunday, August 2, 2009

Revealed: Hidden Secrets of online Game Psychology

Have you ever known someone who was addicted to playing games on the Internet? Have you ever gone down that road yourself? If so, there is something important I want to share with you...

The big gaming companies go to great lengths to make their online games highly addictive. Unfortunately, sometimes they go too far.

Did you know that all the big online games use very powerful psychological methods to get players hooked on their games? The truth is, online games are jam packed with very sophisticated and effective psychological tactics that almost all gamers fall prey to. Today’s online computer games are so much fun they can actually be addictive. In fact, a trained psychologist can look at today’s online games and identify deliberate use of habitforming features.

The growing number of computer gamers and their playing habits demonstrate the power of these methods. There is good reason that the popular game EverQuest is also known as “EverCrack”. There have been many reports of online gamers dramatically altering their real lives in order to spend more time online. A close personal friend of mine was once so attached to playing that he actually caused damage to his arm from so much mouse clicking! (Fortunately, he is long since recovered and is a wiser person now). There is no need for you to fall into this trap.

In extreme cases, online game addiction has resulted in ruined relationships, lost jobs, and even divorce. In fact, this may surprise you, but...

Most online gamers are in danger of becoming addicted at some time or another.
But it doesn't have to be this way!

The purpose of this book is to let you know that half the battle is simply recognizing the methods being used, how they are used, and when. The other half of the battle is following a few simple rules to completely side step the danger of addiction. Armed with this understanding, a person can avoid the traps of addiction.

The Symptoms Of Online Game Addiction

A s with most addictions, recognizing that there is a problem is the first, most important step. This chapter covers the most common symptoms of online game addiction. If you or someone you know shows more than one or two of these symptoms, online game addiction is a very real possibility.

You can't stop thinking about a particular online game.
No matter how hard you try, you just can't get the game out of your head. It is as if the game has you mentally spellbound and there is no escape.

You regularly spend more time playing than you originally planned.
You sit down at the computer planning on playing for an hour or two. This stretches into 5 hours... and then before you know it the sun is coming up and you never went to sleep!

You continue playing in spite of fatigue, missed appointments, or other adverse consequences.
This is a true danger sign for an online gamer. Letting an online game get in the way of personal relationships and work responsibilities is truly harmful. Too much time at the computer can result in all kinds of problems: physical, mental, and emotional.

You sometimes decide to quit playing but then feel as if you cannot stop.
It becomes a habit that you can't put down, no matter how hard you try. You say that you are done, that you are going to give your game account a rest… and then before you know it you are back at the keyboard. You are helpless to stop.

You have a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the computer.

You feel as if your game character is an extension of yourself.

You experience physical problems as a result of your online game playing.
The most common physical problems are:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dry eyes
  • Migraine headaches
  • Back aches
  • Eating irregularities, such as skipping meals
  • Failure to attend to personal hygiene
  • Sleep disturbances, change in sleep pattern
What REALLY Makes Online Games So Addictive
M any computer games are so much fun they can actually be addictive. In fact, a trained psychologist can look at today’s online games and identify deliberate use of habit-forming features. It is a provable fact that online game companies make use of several psychological methods to draw you into the game and keep you there. This is not as scary is it might sound, especially if you understand the methods being used. Below is a list of the most powerful methods used.

  • Barrier To Entry. It can take a little while to become fluent with a particular game. Each game hasits unique culture and quirks. Online games are designed so that a player must invest a minimum amount of time and energy to become familiar with the way the game works. Once this has been accomplished, it forms a kind of psychological bond. There can be a strong feeling of association to the game and the other players. It is like you are one of the “in crowd”.
Conditioning And Reinforcement: As a player accomplishes tasks, which increase in difficulty, the rewards that come from those tasks increase in size. For example, many

  • games offer a form of “quest”. This is usually some adventure you embark upon to achieve a certain goal. When this goal is achieved, you may be rewarded with virtual wealth (such as platinum pieces), more power (such as a higher character level), and perhaps even fame within the game world. This is a form of conditioning and reinforcement. You can easily find yourself drawn in, and it can become difficult to pull yourself away from the game.
  • A Network Of Dependent Friends: Most online games strongly encourage teamwork. For example, your virtual character may have powers that no one else has, and you will be called upon to use those powers to help the group. As you build your network of friends and build teams, people begin to rely more and more on you. This can lead to very strong friendships within the virtual world. Peer pressure being what it is, you can easily find yourself in a position where you feel a deep sense of responsibility. It can become a real obligation to spend more and more time online helping out your friends.
  • Attachment To Your Online Persona: The richness of today’s virtual worlds can easily lead to a deep attachment to your online life. You can create your virtual characters from the ground up, including their own unique histories, possessions, and personalities. It is a very compelling way of escaping “real life”. Online gamers who are not very happy with their actual life might become highly respected characters within the game world. Like any investment, it can become difficult to let go.
An addition, escaping real life problems – understanding Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

But something more intensely provoking has happened in EverQuest, which makes it addictive. Another frequently encountered figure in introductory psychology textbooks is Maslow, known for his proposed hierarchy of needs. Maslow sees human needs in a pyramid scheme. At the bottom are basic hunger and thirst needs, followed by security. At the top of the pyramid are aesthetic needs and personal achievements, which would only be possible on a strong foundation of sated hunger and security needs. Thus, even though personal achievements are more rewarding than filling an empty stomach, these achievements are only possible once you have
filled your stomach.

But World of Warcraft makes it possible for Joes and Janes to become heroes. World of Wacraft makes it so that you can slay 6 Vox in a guild raid on an empty stomach. What happens when people can feel achievement through continuous mouse-clicking? What happens when these achievements are more rewarding than "real life" achievements? And what if it is easier to click the mouse than to cook dinner?

As you can see, these are some powerful psychological methods. The growing number of computer gamers and their playing habits demonstrate the power of these methods. But now that you understand how they work, you can be fully prepared to resist.

Here is the most important rule: always be on the lookout for these methods. While you are playing a game like EverQuest or World of Warcraft, for example, it will become very clear to you where these methods are put into play. What you want to do is become consciously aware of what is happening and the effect it has on you.

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