It’s not uncommon for people to play Candy Crush Saga for four hours straight!
That’s a long time to not be doing anything else, but the game is that immersive that the player doesn’t notice the time passing, even if they are in an important meeting.
The success of Candy Crush and slot machines are explored by an article in New Scientist (31/5/14), which explains that they both reward us in a way that makes us keep playing.
The games create a zone of pleasure between certainty and uncertainty. As the symbols spin round we’re uncertain of the outcome until, suddenly, we have closure as the symbols stop. This is called a ‘ludic loop’ and it is its own reward. We keep playing because we want to keep being in this zone.
We particularly like to feel in control and these games have an element to them that makes us think that we are in control. This makes us think that we can outwit the machine or the game and so we keep playing.
The jackpot moment with the bells and flashing lights or an unexpected cascade of further matches also stimulates compulsion. We like unpredictable or variable rewards as we think that we’re getting better at the game. It’s also possible that we’re hard wired like this as the phenomenon is also seen in other animals (Skinners experiments on rats in the 1950s). It’s actually called the ‘variable-ratio schedule of reinforcement’.
There are now companies who help the gaming industry to make their games more ‘engaging’ and they employ psychologists to advise the game designers.
Games like Candy Crush are big business – the makers, King Digital Entertainment, have an estimated $900,000 a day income from Candy Crush.
With this much money and science going into making games even more compulsive, how can we not get addicted to playing them with all the problems that that can cause?
Categorised in: Gambling