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Understanding Addiction-Based Game Design 308

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-can-quit-any-time-i-want-to-i-just-don't-want-to dept.
spidweb writes "The common theory is that games like World of Warcraft are addictive. But what are the exact qualities that make it so? Are there specific elements of the design that can be pulled out, distilled, and used at will to give a game drug-like properties? Is it wrong to do so? A new article at IGN RPG Vault attempts to isolates the exact qualities that go into making an addiction-based design. From the article: 'If a game uses rewards of any sort to entice you to experience highly repetitive content, you should see what it's trying to do and which of your buttons it's trying to press. If you don't mind, that's cool, but you should understand it.'"
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Understanding Addiction-Based Game Design

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  • Its the rewards. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:44AM (#28120935)

    As a wowtard myself i was addicted to the game for a while, back when it was still up and coming. I can say that, for at least myself, I was addicted to the time invested vs rewards you could achieve. I would pour my time into real life hobbies and the payoffs from those were far less interesting, and nowhere near as cool as those that I could achieve in WOW. Yes I was a social recluse, but that's life.
    My /played time on my main toon, before BC was released, was over 200 days. Add to that 4 other 60's with about 10 days game time to level each, plus time spent in pvp with them, rep farming, yeah. It wasn't nearly as destructive as some other people report it was for them, but I was still addicted to the rewards I could achieve, because it was so clear how to do things, and how to get what you wanted. There are many other aspects to it of course, but that was the kicker for me.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:45AM (#28120937)

    There is a pretty funny theory that the vast majority of WoW players are well-respected professionals who play the game in their free time. Through the playing of WoW, they not only practice their leadership skills, but also organizational skills and planning skills. The idea is that the game reinforces and promotes cooperative game play while preserving a fun environment.

    But we all know the truth. It's 30 year old lardballs who still live with their parents that play this game. The lack of friends and human companionship drives them to seek out online communities where they can be accepted as who they portray themselves as rather than for who they, unfortunately, are. Seeking companionship is one of the most primal of human urges.

    I don't know how you can say the game is addictive, in that sense. I'm not addicted to breathing or eating, but I'd die without doing either of those. We are talking about something very close to the core of being a human, not a dependency developed through repeated exposure.

  • Rewards. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kavorkian_scarf (1272422) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:52AM (#28120979)
    Well it didn't post my last comment. I was addicted to the rewards that were available to me, and the clear cut, investment required for them. Do this X many times, get this in return. Kill X many of this, and get this. I was and still am(sorta) addicted to wow. I /played my main over 200days(pre BC), id been there since it went live, with 5 other mains all 60 with alot of /played time on them. It was mostly a replacement for the lack of things I had to show for myself. Before people jump down my throat, its not like I sat in my room all day playing (almost) I was a social recluse by choice, I enjoyed my life as it was, and I just found that I lacked the disciplin and the means of which to obtain the things I wanted for myself. WoW was my answer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @06:52AM (#28121343)

    Look, using these tired stereotypes about gamers is hardly productive to your argument. Clearly you don't know the people you are commenting on. I won't waste my typing on examples of educated, active, successful gamers with families, businesses and real lives. Suffice to say that your characterization is deeply unimaginative and flawed.
    The question of addiction is also a bit of a stereotype, which I think is owed to the hobby-like space which gaming occupies. I believe gaming can more convincingly be compared to other multimedia entertainment, such as television, which rarely gets discussed as an addiction, owing I'm sure to the pervasive presence and acceptance which TV has in society.
    The difference with gaming, MMO games in particular, is the they have the addition of a social element. For me, this makes them occupy a much more socially "connected" activity than watching sitcom reruns on the boobtube...

  • Re:Obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by skrolle2 (844387) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @07:03AM (#28121389)

    Thanks. I would have appreciated someone modding it up instead. I need to get it to +5 Funny for another achievement.

  • It's a blend (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @07:08AM (#28121411)

    WoW's "addictive" nature is a blend of many components.

    First and foremost, it's the reward system. Human beings do things due to rewards. That's how we work. We used to hunt and gather, and our reward was meat and berries. We went, we did, we got something, we were pleased. In today's world, that doesn't work out anymore so well. Usually, the reward you get is abstracted away from your work too far for you to make that connection. We work a month and eventually, our accout grows a bit. But we don't see how they are connected. It's not like I get some kind of micropayment for every line of code I write or debug.

    Even if, what kind of reward is money? It's again an abstract concept that has no "real" value until it's redeemed for what you actually want.

    WoW gives you very directly reward for actions. First, there's that fanfare playing when you accomplish something (don't you think that doesn't matter! It tells you "you did that well", it praises you), you get some goods (more or less useful), what really counts, though, is that the game acknowledges that you actually "did something".

    The next part is user interaction and commitment. Since people do rely on each other and have to, you are guilt tripped into playing even if you don't want to. They need a healer/tank/whatever or they can't accomplish their goal. Your decision to stay away from it lets four (or 24, or 39) people down. This in turn makes the player feel appreciated, welcome and needed. And trust me, today, a lot of people feel like they ain't needed or appreciated. Or even welcome.

    The sense of accomplishment, where you feel like you progress. Today, again, we don't really get that feeling very often. You might, in school, when you ascend through the classes towards graduation. In your workplace? Maybe stuck in a burger flipper job? Where do you progress? Where does your life go to? WoW tells you exactly where it's heading. You can watch your progress by watching your level and the kind of outfit you wear. More over, everyone else, not just a small subset of people who happen to judge success by the same yard stick as you, everyone in the game can appreciate what you have "done", because everyone else uses the same gauge to measure success: Level and equipment.

    Yet at the same time, there's still the feeling of having no responsibility, it's still a no-commitment thing. You could just log off and nobody could hold it against you. There ain't any real life issues to deal with should you decide to just leave. No job that you'll lose, no family you would lose, no class you could fail, just because you decided you don't wanna anymore.

  • by setagllib (753300) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @07:09AM (#28121417)

    The kind of people who get consumed by online engagement usually aren't very successful in real life anyway. If they become successful in real life following a WoW addiction, very often it's specifically because they now value the real world so much more after being essentially isolated from it.

    My belief is that technology, like all advancements, helps separate people further into their "natures". If someone is susceptible to addiction, avoidance and escapism, they'll have more advanced ways of doing that in the future, but well-adjusted people will just be the same well-adjusted people, but with fancier phones and whatever else fits into their lifestyle. They will be largely unaffected by the growth of MMOs, except that some of the people they might have hung out with before will now play games instead.

  • by setagllib (753300) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @07:14AM (#28121447)

    People are infinitely more likely to spend long stretches of time watching television with others than alone. Having someone else there makes it feel more social and less pathetic, even if you're not saying a word to each other.

    Online gaming takes this to the extreme, where there are always plenty of other people there to make players feel validated in their choice of activity, and so players stay on until the "real world" forces them out.

    The social element is critical to immersion and addiction. There's nothing like tribe mentality, peer pressure and dependence upon external validation to continually fuel destructive behavior.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @07:21AM (#28121477)

    The statistician in me says "if the number of items in a sample is large enough, you'll find an oddball that will serve as the 'see, it ain't so' example".

    WoW has 10 million players. It's a given that you can pull any kind of sample even out of your ass and it will be fitting. I can, even without checking, say that the chance that there is at least one celebrity, one mass murderer, one nobel prize candidate, one illiterate, one billionaire, one terrorist... playing WoW ist ONE. The sample is big enough that it's near certain that ANY kind of group has at least ONE representative in it.

    Whether your friend is the norm or the exception is another question.

  • by boliboboli (1447659) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @07:37AM (#28121571)
    The model for this game design is really from D&D. E.g. Do stuff, get 'loot' randomly after an encounter, fill up the XP bar to hit the next level, improve skills, abilities, feats, etc, etc. The difference is that you don't have to go to your buddies basement(with your Doritos/Mountain Dew) and bring your dice on a Sunday afternoon to get your fix like with a video game; It's right there in your computer room. It also gives the experience to those who are imagination impaired. The potion of the gaming industry using these 'evil' methods should be thanking Gary Gygax and Dave Arenson for the money they're making.
  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @07:42AM (#28121599)

    " It is mostly style that is rewarded here."

    No what is rewarded is well articulated posts, that are easy to read, are not too lengthly or use obtuse language. Most mods forgive posts with spelling/grammar errors, and/or missing words if the core is well enough articulated, of which I am thankful. I'm not going to pretend slashdot is without bias, but the moderation system works better then all other news sites as far as I know and almost all news sites have gone to including comments on their websites because they know it attracts readership and repeat returns to engage in discussion.

    News comments like slashdot are constrained by a posters time, not everyone has time to post a longwinded complicated justification of x to make a small point on a comment on a news article few will have the time to read.

    Let's not also forget mods have bias's, slashdot disproportionately attracts a lot of americans and hence anything critical of captialism or american ideas is usually quickly slapped down.

  • by fbjon (692006) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @07:50AM (#28121637) Homepage Journal
    On the internet, coherent posts deserve every praise they can get.
  • by MetaPhyzx (212830) * on Thursday May 28, 2009 @07:57AM (#28121677)

    There is no substitute for physical, in-person, flesh and bone companionship.

     

    I'm a gamer and there have been times that I've set aside what I consider an extensive number of hours to play. One such time that comes to mind is the release of Rome: Total War in 2003/04 or so. I remember playing late nights for two weeks straight including, sleeping about an hour and then heading into work. After the kid was asleep at 8:30, I'd be back at it again.

     

    When I was younger and had fewer responsibilities (pre-children), devoting that much or more time to a game would not have been as big of a deal.

     

    However there is a limit. Yes, it may be no different than devoting hours to a hobby and just as tangible. Yes, using an online game as a fulcrum for social interaction for those that it does not come easy to (and for those of us whom it does as well) can be rewarding, same as a hobby would.
     

    Yet it still can't beat having a beer or a glass of wine with your friends, or a good vacation, or that certain girl/guy with a twinkle in their eye. It can't beat watching your kid run the wrong way on the soccer field.
     

    I'm not sure the phenomenon qualifies as an addiction; we are way too eager to classify anything we can as such. By this definition texting could be an addiction. Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, on and on. But it might be a harbinger something the parent alludes to, which is our willingness to substitute physical interaction and learning how to deal with people for virtual interaction and further stratifying ourselves.

  • by Schezar (249629) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @08:39AM (#28122105) Homepage Journal

    While that is what D&D (or Chainmail, really) was originally, there is a great deal of tabletop roleplaying that is nothing of the sort. While Dungeons & Dragons basically became "tabletop World of Warcraft" with the release of fourth edition, games like Burning Wheel, Inspectres, Prime Time Adventures, and Mouse Guard have broken far away from this progress quest paradigm. D&D is, simply put, the "WoW of tabletop gaming," and just as with WoW, the savvier gamers have moved to the independent scene or to games with less mass appeal but also less grind.

    The real issue is simply that, for mass appeal and mass profit, the addiction model can't be beaten. D&D polished it as much as it can be polished on a table, and WoW did the same on a screen.

  • Weak Article (Score:3, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:00AM (#28122351)
    For an article on ign, a site frequented by gamers, the article is really weak. I would expect something like that from a local newspaper rather than something published on a site read by people already knowledgeable regarding the subject. The article spends a lot of time explaining concepts and ideas that are already obvious to anyone who even remotely considers themselves a gamer (the regular audience of ign, for example). I was hoping it would then build upon those basic concepts that I already knew to present an interesting or novel theory but - no - that was it. A very disappointing read and not worth the time...

    As a note, a big part of my disappointment is I feel this would be a very interesting topic to discuss so reading an intelligent article on the subject would be great but this is not that article...

    In my opinionated opinion.
  • Re:It's a blend (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrondeath (757612) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:02AM (#28122365)
    From that analysis, it almost sounds like it's the real world that's doing it wrong, not WoW.
  • Re:It's a blend (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:22AM (#28122603)

    Well, generally it is.

    Human does not fit in our society. Odd as it may sound, we're not really made for the life we live today. Maybe that's why we have so many "civilisation diseases". Especially our mind doesn't really work well in this kind of environment.

    First, we have a 'pack' mentality, not the 'hive' mentality we're exposed to today. We work well in groups of 10 or maybe 20 individuals, and that's usually the amount of people the average person might "know" (to the degree of "know and like, and maybe hang out with"). That's how many people we willingly "work" together with. We don't really care for anyone outside that rather small circle. Small, considering corporations with thousands of people working there. Do you care about Joe from accounting? He could drop dead as far as I'm concerned.

    Unless maybe if you're in accounting. And he's part of your 'pack'. Or, rather, your team or at least department. And that, again, only if you like him.

    But that's hardly the only thing that is 'wrong' in our modern society. Wrong in the sense that it isn't compatible with what was necessary for our ancestors to survive and thus became part of the human "genetic" mindset.

  • by Twyst3d (1359973) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:28AM (#28122667)

    There is a pretty funny theory that the vast majority of WoW players are well-respected professionals who play the game in their free time. Through the playing of WoW, they not only practice their leadership skills, but also organizational skills and planning skills. The idea is that the game reinforces and promotes cooperative game play while preserving a fun environment.

    But we all know the truth. It's 30 year old lardballs who still live with their parents that play this game. The lack of friends and human companionship drives them to seek out online communities where they can be accepted as who they portray themselves as rather than for who they, unfortunately, are. Seeking companionship is one of the most primal of human urges.

    I don't know how you can say the game is addictive, in that sense. I'm not addicted to breathing or eating, but I'd die without doing either of those. We are talking about something very close to the core of being a human, not a dependency developed through repeated exposure.

    Apparently quoting the same thing old tired recycled line of "30 years olds in their mothers basements" is worth 5 points Insightful. Who would have known?

    I wont deny these 30 year olds of which you speak dont exist. But Im quite sick of seeing that tired old line recycled. Worse - being subjected to the gall of essentially repeating the worst most repeated joke of the last few years, and doing so with condescension towards others about a product you seem to know so little about.

    The people I met in WoW. Came from all walks of life. Sure there may be your generic nerds in there. But there are also doctors, singers actors, producers, truck drivers, restaurant owners, bell boys, chefs, and social workers. And thats just the tip of the iceberg. There are 11 million people playing this game right now. To say its all one type of people doesnt explain why past MMOs were not nearly as successful. But Im sure according to your 5 point INsightful original and trailblazing opinion. The world was just waiting for a large population of people to hit 30 and then go live with their parents. And when I say met - I mean I met these people. I even went to one of their funerals IRL.

    And more players than you think are tired parents trying desperately to get a single hour at the end of the day just for themselves. A single hour away from their entire day spent working to provide for and take care of the family. And even then their ghetto little hour to mellow out most times is interrupted anyways.

    Is it addictive? If you are unemployed and need an escape - very much so. But for a good number of people. Its an alternative to going out and spending a ton of cash on a single nights activities that provides a bare minimum of companionship and relaxation. 15$ a month vs a bare minimum of 15$ a night to go out. Thats a hrd pitch to resist financially.

  • Not just MMOs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by VGPowerlord (621254) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:46AM (#28122893)

    Disclaimer: I have played WoW in the past.

    It's not just MMOs that are addicting. Any online game can be addicting. Heck, even offline games can be addicting.

    Currently, Team Fortress 2 for the PC is my addiction. One of the communities I'm part of has their own server and is currently thinking about getting a second one due to its popularity.

    It's fun because you play against people you know and, unlike World of Warcraft, it doesn't matter how little or much you play, as your character never really changes.

    Of course, Valve continuing to release updates has made it easier to convince some of my friends to play. It helped a lot when Valve had the sale on The Orange Box for $10 a few weeks ago, though...

  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:52AM (#28122973) Homepage

    Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh, but with any RPG or table top wargame, be it D&D / Shadow Run / Battle Tech / Car Wars / Toon! / Paranoia / GURPs / WH40k (I'm just the listing the ones I played growing up), you had to be able to get a group together, find a convenient place for everyone, etc.

    With some of 'em, where there's progress from session to session rather than stand-alone sessions, you need to get everyone to be able to show up every time -- which is a problem as people work different schedules, have kids, move further away, etc.

    With online gaming, you could just drop in for an hour or two, meet up with the party, drop out when life calls (as opposed to the night when one of the player's (now wife) kept calling every hour and keeping him on the phone for 20-30 min at a time, not understanding how EVERYONE else had to stop while it was going on.

    I admit, I don't play WoW -- I did play EverQuest for a bit, and I mudded for years in college, but our group tended to stick to more private groupings -- We did a fair number of LAN parties in the years after college, then later would coordinate times for Diablo, StarCraft, Age of Empires, Warcraft III, Command & Conquer, Neverwinter Nights, Dawn of War, etc. Sometimes LAN parties, but normally just a normal weeknight where we didn't have to deal with travel (as one now lives 500 miles away and the others would still take up to 2 hrs each way w/ travel, setup, etc.)

    So ... the point is ... MMOs are more convenient than face to face. Yes, they're less imaginative, yes, they can be less social, but we can get a game together in under an hour if someone feels the need to unwind from a stressful day at work, whereas a day of WH40K gaming might require weeks to prepare (gotta modify my figures to deal with some rules change / new tactics, etc.)

  • by cml4524 (1520403) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:03AM (#28123127)

    I suspect that about 90% of what you just said is a load of bullhonkey.

  • by mqduck (232646) <mqduck@@@mqduck...net> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:13AM (#28123277)

    If a game has me hooked, addicted, and I play it for hours at a time for weeks on end- fine.

    You could say the same thing about drugs. Actually, you could say the same thing about drugs and I'd agree. If you're a user, or even an addict, and happy, that's fantastic. But that's hardly proof that addiction isn't insidious.

  • by Sj0 (472011) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:19AM (#28123333) Homepage Journal

    So WoW is only addictive after you've spent a ridiculous amount of time levelling?

    Son, you gotta play a good game. Fallout 3 was fun from the moment I walked out of the vault.

  • Wrong word (Score:3, Insightful)

    by huckamania (533052) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:33AM (#28123533) Journal

    The OP should be modded +5 Insightful. If WoW is 'addictive', then the word no longer has the same meaning as before. The word can just as easily be applied to chocolate, slashdot and American Idol as to a voluntary activity like WoW.

    The truth is that none of these things are addictive. There are people who are obsessed with each of those things, but if stranded on a desert island, those people wouldn't suffer any ill effects from being removed from their obsession.

    I'm currently obsessed with Battlefield Heroes, but in a good way.

  • by mdarksbane (587589) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:41AM (#28123625)

    Define successful in real life.

    I've noticed that it's often a problem of the "long tail" so often described in online companies.

    There are millions of people who do not share interests with most of the people around them. Some of them are able to find some common interests and just ignore the rest of what they want to do, some aren't. I know where I grew up, I was the only person in my class who was really into video games and computers. I found some other people I could be friends with anyway, but it was a part of my personality that would have gone completely unexpressed without online gaming.

    There are enough people online, heck, enough people just playing wow that you will be able to find not just a few people who share your interest but hundreds of them. I fail to see how it is inherently worse to be forming friendships with those people than with the people who happen to be geographically close to you.

    Yes, there are a few things online friends can't do for you - getting you laid being the most important. But assuming you have managed to find a companion somewhere, what is inherently worse about meeting your friends online for a raid compared to meeting them in a bar for a pint? Why are people who hang out with their friends in a bar considered social and normal and those who have equally many friends disturbed losers? In my experience, the level of closeness and friendship in those sorts of groups is no different.

    Being poorly socialized will follow you online as well - it is a separate problem from where you are trying to be social.

  • by happyemoticon (543015) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:07PM (#28124841) Homepage

    A lot of WoW players eventually lose sight of the fact that the whole game, end-to-end, is a rewarding and fun experience to be savored. This is a consequence of the game's design to some degree.

    When you start out, you play around a lot and have lots of fun. You make mistakes, and you see sights, you make some friends about the same level. You level together and experience progressively bigger and cooler dungeons together.

    But then you get to the level cap, and all your friends are at the level cap. So you want to do things with them. But end-game content requires such a time commitment - raiding, grinding for gold and items - that there's no reason to ever go back and experience the rest of the game in the same way. If you DO level another character, it's to fill a hole in your guild's roster (leveling a healer or tank, for example), and you tend to blaze through content because you already know the ropes and there's no reason to go back and make friends all over again.

    Another thing which WoW does is play off of your sense of community and obligation, even if that community is dysfunctional. The difference between a good player and a noobtard is not something you can easily tell, even based on what they've accomplished. So you tend to stick with people that you know, and you come to rely on each other. Not to toot my own horn, but I was a pretty good raid leader and an awesome tank back in my day, so when I didn't participate, 39 other people had less fun as a result. It's probably a peculiar case, but this was more what kept me coming back than the reward treadmill.

  • by rocket rancher (447670) <themovingfinger@gmail.com> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:18PM (#28124991)

    The common theory is that games like World of Warcraft are addictive. But what are the exact qualities that make it so?

    I play WoW *a lot* -- six hours/day during the week and 18 hours/day on weekends and holidays -- and I've often wondered how I let this game take over my life so thoroughly. I think the variable rate schedule of rewards theory can explain this addiction. It is something that I learned about in a Management 101 class two decades ago. What makes anything addictive, according to the theory we were taught as nascent managers, is having a variable rate at which rewards are delivered. It is what makes gamblers come back to the dice table again and again, and it is why unions work so hard to establish uniform wage scales. My company introduced "Spot Awards" and the policy governing the awards explicitly states that managers should make sure that the awards are distributed at random intervals. The variable-rate schedule of rewards can produce game-aholics as effectively as it can work-aholics.

    Is Blizz deliberately using the variable rate schedule of rewards to bind us to the game? Of course they are. In WoW, the variable rate schedule of rewards is easy to see. How does Blizz keep people engaged once they've reached the level cap? The recently added "Achievement" system is one way. Every so often, you will be rewarded with an achievement that can grant you cool stuff -- a new pet, a new mount, a new title. The requirements for the achievements are not uniform, and often depend on the completion of other achievements which also have non-uniform requirements. This insures that the schedule at which one completes an achievement and receives a reward will be effectively random. You keep shelling out $15 every month to keep those rewards coming.

  • by superwiz (655733) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:28PM (#28125113) Journal
    The thing about playing for 200 days (without stating the obvious) is that it doesn't happen overnight. That person played on day 5 after playing for 4 previous days. Addiction feeds itself. One doesn't get bored. One doesn't plan for it to lead to anything productive. One may even on occasion notice that it is eating away at other things that one wants to achieve, but that doesn't stop it. It's not about priorities. One's values don't matter much, either. We use our values as part of the mechanism for making rational decisions based on choices. With addiction, the choice is gone. I've played WoW. I've seen people say things like "I am so bored of this game" and "I want my life back. I used to be so good at (some random productive activity)". Many of those people kept playing after saying this. Getting out of an addictive behavior requires about as much effort as a vow of celibacy. It's not easy. And value system doesn't help much.
  • by superwiz (655733) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:33PM (#28126145) Journal
    I thought you might get dismissive. Being bored is not the same as having an addiction and I suspect boredom is all you'd feel if you didn't get what you wanted. So here's the experiment that (if you perform it) will show you what's going on. Here's how you can go through what an addict goes through without getting any harmful addictions. Estimate how long you can go without sex. And I don't mean sex proper. I mean without sexual release of any kind. You know yourself better than anyone else. So figure out what is the upper estimate on that number of days (hours?). And then commit to going without sexual release for twice the number of days. Don't tell anyone during this celibacy period that you are doing this experiment (because addicts can't admit what they are even to the loved ones). So you won't have any support group. At some point you will start to feel anxiety. Don't stop the experiment. Continue and try to live your life as normal as you can: go to work, (school?), interact with your friends, etc. You will find that you will become moody and unable to concentrate on tasks at hand (nope, no pun intended... this is not sarcasm... I am really honestly trying to demonstrate a point here). But after it's over you will find that you don't really miss sex anymore. But as soon as the opportunity presents and you do have it, you'll be "addicted" again. You may think it's silly that some people feel this way about a game. You may think that it's because they don't have actual sex (which isn't true because plenty of the committed players have families and kids), but it doesn't really matter. As long as the physical manifestation of addiction is the same, it's addiction and it cannot be removed with a simple choice or decision.
  • by Feyshtey (1523799) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:36PM (#28126187)

    But then you get to the level cap, and all your friends are at the level cap. So you want to do things with them. But end-game content requires such a time commitment - raiding, grinding for gold and items - that there's no reason to ever go back and experience the rest of the game in the same way. If you DO level another character, it's to fill a hole in your guild's roster (leveling a healer or tank, for example), and you tend to blaze through content because you already know the ropes and there's no reason to go back and make friends all over again.

    That's a rather unfair generalization.

    I would agree that there are definately those people who play the game as you describe. In fact, I'd say that in the past in other games it has been far more true (EverQuest, as an example). But WoW has broadened the market to a much larger audience, many of whom do not have the time or the inclination to live thier lives on a schedule prescribed by a guild.

    There are now a huge number of people who thoroughly enjoy plodding along, aimlessly enjoying the sights and experiences with far less ambition to reach the level cap, let alone get a full set of tier'X' gear. My family and I are among them. We find it very satisfying the achieve what we achieve by our own methods in our own time, and what you or anyone else achieves by other playstyles is largely irrelevant to us.

    You also mention community. I find that rather interesting, because I base a definition of community on my past experiences in games like EverQuest. At one time it would take a person months upon months of grinding and spending every spare second to approach the level cap. It was in a server population in the thousands rather than 10's or 100's of thousands of characters. If your reputation were to be tarnished, everyone recognized your name. You were a pariah. And in those games accomplishing nearly anything required a full group, so your ability to progress in the game was essentially terminated with that character. Starting over was painful because of the commitments of time.

    Today in WoW, one can very casually reach cap level in a matter of weeks without ever grouping with anyone. That combined with the sheer volume of unique characters ensures near total anonymity. "Community", for the bulk of players, is wholly meaningless.

    Back in the day my wife and I were integral parts of a huge raiding guild in EverQuest. We were an end-game guild raiding nightly. We realized that that particular playstyle was like a cancer in our enjoyment of the game. It became an obligation, as you mentioned. Which made it a job, and one that we came to resent.

  • Re:Frost Posh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by niktemadur (793971) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @08:16PM (#28132581)

    This is the right time and place for a personal anecdote, methinks.

    Many years ago, my dad took me to Vegas for a full week. As I'd never been to Vegas before, I was thrilled. My dad was a disciplined yet mellow man with a hearing impairment, he'd time his gambling between slow and relaxed coffee breaks, meals and walks, then return to the casino and turn his hearing aid off, sheltering himself from the constant cacophony around him, moving slow and hunting for a "warm" machine according to his "hypothesis" (if someone has been feeding a machine and gotten no return, a jackpot is imminent, he'd say). An eye of the storm is how I'd describe him. By midnight, dad would be in our hotel room, drifting to sleep while reading a techno-thriller spy novel or Louis L'Amour cowboy adventure.

    Feeling like a hyper-excited kid in a candy store, I was taking off on my own at 8:00 pm (with a generous but not excessive daily allowance) to explore, drink and smoke while feeding the one-armed bandits and playing blackjack at the one-dollar tables (with free drink service, of course), pretending to be a real man, coming back to the hotel room at the crack of dawn or beyond. Now, wasting precious cash on taxis, are you kidding? I was doing plenty of walking from casino to casino, keeping me from getting too drunk, so I didn't get into any trouble in that area.
    This blissful experience lasted for three days.

    By Day Four, the sound of the slot machines was beginning to get deep in nerves, the thrill was fading away, and three consecutive nights of drink was beginning to take its' toll (call me a lightweight if you like, that's okay).
    By Day Five, I went bowling and to the movies, just to get away from the casinos for a spell or two. To give you an idea how long ago this was, the film was "Patriot Games" with Harrison Ford.
    By Day Six, my nervous system was screaming "Get me outta here!".
    By Day Seven, feeling jaded beyond my years, I indulged in one last blackjack all-nighter at a funky casino filled with college-age students, Bowie, Roxy Music and The Police playing in the sound system.
    On Day Eight we flew back and I wanted to play Pope and kiss the ground at touchdown.

    What my old man did there, was invaluable - he placed the cookie jar in my reach and said "Have a go". What I did was stuff myself until I got sick and subsequently inoculated, gambling holds no appeal for me since then.

    Now to my main point here. By Day Five, as I wandered around the casinos, the lights, bells and whistles were not a distracting factor anymore, my jolly attitude had vanished, and only then did some truly disturbing snapshots of humanity stick out in sharp relief:
    * People (mostly elderly) with glazed eyes focused on some point beyond the walls, a bucket of dollar coins at the side, wearing latex gloves turned filthy by feeding the coins to three slot machines at a time, for all intents and purposes turned into mechanical extensions.
    * Same people after running out of money, walking away in anger as if in instant withdrawal, with only one purpose in mind - scrounging more cash to feed the overlords.
    * Guy arrives at the blackjack table and places two black (five-hundred dollar) chips and wins. Smoking a cigarette and with no discernible emotion, bets all chips, now we're up to two thousand dollars, and wins. Once again, only now it's four thousand bucks, and wins. Once more, eight thousand dollars, loses it all. Guy turns and walks away with no emotion whatsoever. All in the span of two minutes.

    I wouldn't doubt that the casinos knowledgeably use monorails, outlandish architecture, jackpot cars on display, human statues, aquariums and stuff all over the place, to keep the 2-3 day visitor distracted, hiding a dark side of Vegas in plain sight. Then visitors themselves make the damnedest effort to become part of the distraction, chicks there feel the need to expose 9/10 of their body to stand out from all that sensory bombardment (OK, I'll give that one a resounding pass, but

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