warcraft addiction

‘Irresistible’ By Design: It’s No Accident You Can’t Stop Looking At The Screen

Technology is designed to be addictive, offering gratification that’s similar to that of drug abuse or gambling. Author Adam Alter talks about his new book, Irresistible, with Fresh Air’s Dave Davies.

Alter on how World of Warcraft game designers make it to be more addictive

One hundred million, roughly, have played the game, and by many measures, about half of them have developed an addiction, at least temporarily. So that to me suggests that it’s a weaponized game; it’s an experience that’s very, very hard to resist.

Part of the reason for that is, I think, that these large game companies have access to an incredible trove of data. So one thing that a lot of the designers do is they’ll release different versions of missions … to different people, sort of A/B test these different missions. They’ll look at how long you play, whether you return to the game, and generally how engaged you are. They generally call this “time on device,” which is a term that’s borrowed from the gambling world — how long are you on the slot machine.

What they’ll find is, for example, when you have to save [rescue] something, you spend more time playing than say, when you have to kill or find something. So what they’ll do is they’ll take the missions that aren’t as successful and they’ll cast them aside, and now they’ll form three new versions of saving missions. … They’ll continue that process through generation after generation after generation. So what you’re left with after, say, 20 generations is this weaponized evolved version of the game, or a weaponized evolved mission, that is maximally addictive.

♠ “It shall be done.”
Ace in Prince Kael’thas inspired regalia.

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Inside the Tragic, Obsessive World of Video Game Addicts

by Cecilia D'Anastasio

The withdrawal made Brett want to die. The 12 year-old had only been cut off for a few hours and his mind was already wandering to a dark and dangerous place. Looking out the window of his family’s three-story home in Waasenaar, a suburb in the Netherlands, the American transplant imagined swan-diving out of his room and falling to the ground below, with his skull cracking open against the pavement. A grim death, sure, but at the time he felt anything had to better than not being allowed to play Counter-Strike.

Brett’s father had retrofit a metal lock on his Celeron computer to prevent his son from gaming. When it was locked, the Celeron’s data cable was disconnected from its hard drive so it couldn’t turn on, preventing Brett from gunning down digital assailants. A half-hour after Brett was mulling suicide, however, a friend called him on the phone and invited him to come over and game. Brett, nearly at his psychological brink, was relieved.

“I remember thinking, It’s probably very unnatural for someone to go from thinking about killing themselves to enjoying themselves in the span of 30 minutes,” the now 23-year-old told me ten years later.

However strange, that incident was a mere prelude to the depths that Brett would sink with his burgeoning video game addiction—an affliction that has plagued his health and his familial relationships and stunted his adult life.

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