Online games got you hooked? Here’s why they are impossible to let go | health and fitness | Hindustan Times
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Online games got you hooked? Here’s why they are impossible to let go

health and fitness Updated: Feb 19, 2016 13:10 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Sanchita Sharma
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Games that end with a Boss Fight are less addictive than Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing games. (Shutterstock)

Games are designed to addict so people stay hooked and spend more time playing them. Games that end with a Boss Fight -- for example, Need for Speed that gets over at the finish line, and Super Mario Brothers that ends when you’ve rescued Princess Peach -- are less addictive than Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPGs) that go on forever, compelling players to keep playing.

“The challenge for game designers is to make the game difficult enough to be challenging while giving players small wins and rewards to keep players hooked,” says Dr Samir Parikh, director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare. “Trying to beat high scores and win more stars, as all Angry Birds players will know, makes people go back to the game again and again,” he says.

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Not everyone who plays video or online games is addicted. Only about one in 10 gamers become so enthralled with the virtual world that they withdraw from their family and friends and become loners hooked to their computer or device,” says Dr Parikh. Signs of addiction include thinking about the game when doing other activities, lying to friends and family about how long they play,and getting restless, irritable and angry when asked to or try to cut down on the time spent gaming.

Here are the five ways in which games keep you hooked and force you to keep going back for more.

1.The High Score

If you’ve got second place, you want to go for gold, and if you’ve won one star, you want two. (Shutterstock)

Trying to beat the high score or your own previous record can keep people playing for hours. If you’ve got second place, you want to go for gold, and if you’ve won one star, you want two. “The score fuels the competitive streak in people and makes them want to do better and better,” says Dr Parikh..

2. Levelling up

The win gives gamers a high like no other. (Shutterstock)

Reaching the next level to find the next hidden clue or meet a target fuels the player’s desire to beat the game. The players see themselves as adventurers beating the system, and the win gives them a high.

3. Role-playing

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing open world video game. (Twitter)

People get to be what they want to be in the virtual world, and the anonymity allows players to escape reality and whatever problems they are facing. Many gamers tend to be loners or people who get bored easily and the fantasy world becomes an exciting alternative reality. Creating your own unique character also established an emotional bond that makes it harder to stop playing.

4. Adventure

The Sims is a life simulation video game series, developed by EA Maxis. (Twitter)

Embarking on an adventure where you discover new worlds, defeat armies, kill monsters and set up civilizations makes players feel in control. Several games -- SIMS, Grand Theft Auto, World of Warcraft, to name a few -- give players the option to just explore if you’re not in the mood for exhausting action.

5. Bonding

Online communities with similar interests often are often far more accepting. (Shutterstock)

People playing online role-playing games form bonds with other anonymous players in the virtual world. Online communities with similar interests often are often far more accepting and supportive of players than the real world.

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