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Are video games addictive?

Are video games addictive?
A series of lawsuits have been filed against the largest video game companies in the United States, arguing that video games are addictive, and that children who play them have experienced anxiety, low moods, outbursts of physical violence, and withdrawal symptoms. 

During my free time I have come across a number of lawsuits against the largest video game companies in the United States, arguing that video games are addictive, and that children who play them have experienced anxiety, bad moods, explosions of physical violence. and withdrawal syndrome. 

In response to a lawsuit filed in Arkansas, the video game developers involved in this legal conflict responded that "the fact that the plaintiffs find video games too entertaining is not a basis for censoring them," while pointing out that they are being criticized. for making their games more challenging and attractive, as reported by PC gamer magazine. 

Regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit, video games have every incentive to keep players glued to the screen, in fact, they seek to develop habits in them and, in fact, video game companies make the majority of their profits from a handful of gamers, who can spend thousands of dollars and have little control over their spending habits; among them there are children, as portrayed in a note from USA Today in which a 17-year-old Canadian spent $7,600 on Fifa cards, or the report of the BBC of a boy in England who emptied his father's account in the same game.


Entire YouTube channels are dedicated to opening random FIFA character packs for ultimate team mode. 

The most shocking thing is that these are the atypical cases: these children will be reprimanded and, with a little pressure from the media, the money can be returned to the parents, but there are other people who spend that much or more, regularly. . It is true that the majority of consumers interact with video games in a healthy way, but it is precisely the population that is vulnerable to developing addictions to the game or with disorders that make them prone to the manipulation of this type of video games, which generate the majority of the profits. 

These people, who constantly spend thousands of dollars on microtransactions, are called "whales" by the same industry. This dehumanizing analogy is well applied in the famous conference "Let's go whale hunting?" by Torulf Jernström CEO of a mobile video game development company.


Pocket Gamer Connects Conference Helsinki 2016

It describes how to "get hooked, create habits and become the main hobby of players." Go through the importance of the ?gatchas? or random rewards emphasizing that no matter how much you spend, you can't get the cards or items you want directly. 

Citing the behavioral psychology book ?Thinking, Fast and Slow? from Daniel Kahneman, saying that it is important that, for players to spend money, they should not have to think about what they are buying, whatever is being sold to them, it has to be of immediate use or pressure them to make a decision in the moment, for example, selling them the opportunity to continue if they have lost the game.

Likewise, it talks about the mechanism of giving rewards to consumers and, later, threatening to take them away if they do not pay. "The anchor is fun," exclaims Torulf in his lecture, referring to the commercial tactic of offering an exorbitant price to consumers (which will be the anchor), and then offering them a "discount." to manipulate buyers knowing full well that they never intended to sell those microtransactions at the initial price.

To finish, Torulf presents us with four ways to progress in the games:

  • Luck
  • Ability
  • Paying
  • Investing many hours

He immediately warns the public not to make their games based on skill, because then players have no reason to pay. 

The developers of certain video games go out of their way to use all available means to make us spend, and the fact that they are addictive only benefits them.

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Hans Leguízamo
Hans Leguízamo
Audio and video coordinator of Peninsula 360 Press. Sociologist and researcher specialized in electronic entertainment, videogames and consumer rights.

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