Monday, June 13, 2016

Gaming Addiction: Fake Rewards in a Fake World.

My short story collection “Realm of Heroes” is now available. I originally posted the title story here, but have made some changes to it based on feedback. Thanks to those who read and commented. I've combined it in a collection with my other short stories. 

Realm of Heroes summary: In the future, gaming is taken to a new level where one’s mind can enter a better world. Cleo seeks to save her fiancĂ© from addiction. What does he love more? Her or the game?

One can also get it free for joining my newsletter. However, I wanted to talk about what motivated me to write Realm of Heroes. Mainly it was because of the loss of a friend due to gaming addiction. I’m not entirely innocent myself, but one has to keep in mind that these games are designed to keep you on them as long as possible, and ideally spend more money.

Often the rewards in the online game is just a graphic. 
Why do people jump through hoops for a mere graphic? Because it plays to one’s competitive nature. So you can tell your friends you have the solar power plant, you’ve unlocked the beach front property and have the biggest park available in the game. With other games, it’s the chance to go through a new portal where you’ll need improved swords, wands, and better boots. Some games allow you to compete with real players, which often leads to unlocking more cool graphics. 

Some games involve timing. This pretty much puts you on a schedule. All to get the reward…a graphic. 

We all want success, don't we? It's easier to be successful in the games because they’re not real life. Real life is harder. Our competitive nature likes to be rewarded. A game will give more rewards than real life. Meanwhile, you’re like a puppet on a string. 

These games have been deliberately designed to hook people. Here is a summary of the methods.

1. Notifications: The game designers know the typical human is curious. The notification doesn’t tell you what it's about, so it’s so hard not to click.

2. When timing is part of the game, you end up on the game’s schedule.

3. Fake rewards (Graphics) that seem real because we can show them off to others.

4. Needing to level to unlock more graphics, or perhaps it’s new armor or bigger building space.

5. Guilt: If you can meet friends in the game and try to quit, they will beg you to come back. Some of the notifications from games even try to guilt you to coming back.

6. Competing with others to earn more rewards. So your clan can be #1 in a fake world. It always feels good to win.

7. Excuses from yourself: “Why not? It’s just a little bit of time? You don’t do anything for fun. This is your fun.”

In the end, someone in real life has taken both your money and your time. You won’t ever get those back. 


Realm of Heroes goes a bit further about what a game might be able to take from you.


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