Why is gaming so addictive?

I believe that most people have had this experience: When playing the game, originally only planned to play two or three rounds, but accidentally play until midnight. You tell yourself, you will sleep after another game, but after this game, you tell yourself, one last time, and the cycle repeats.

If a person knowing that it has a negative impact, still deep into it and difficult to control itself. Then this phenomenon can be called addiction.

Regardless of drug use, smoking and other physiological addiction phenomena, such as playing games, watching drama, watching Youtube, behind this phenomenon of addiction, in fact, there is a truth hidden – it satisfies people with some psychological needs that can’t get from the real world.

There is a very well-known theory in psychology. Self-determination theory, that human needs can be divided into three levels of autonomy, belonging and ability.

That is, we need to have the right to choose and decide what we do, we need to have an emotional connection with others, and we want to feel good about what we do.

The game makes people can’t stop playing, because it is closed around the player’s psychology in these aspects, through visualization, direct, quick, in-depth to meet people’s instinctive needs.

In the game, you can be the team leader who gallops through the sand, enjoying the honor and the pursuit. Countless scene selection and character settings make it easy for you to experience real-world dreams. This is the autonomy satisfaction the game brings to the player.

You can make friends, create organizations, and enjoy teamwork in the game. You can also go offline, because of the common hobby, make some new friends.

This is the sense of belonging satisfaction the game brings to the player.



Autonomy satisfaction and sense of belonging satisfaction is not the key driving factor of game addiction, what makes people fall into the game trap, is the ability of the game gives to the player.

Specifically, the game through instant feedback, so that players quickly get pleasure and satisfaction.

In real life, whether it’s learning, working, or other activities we’re doing, there’s little way to give direct feedback in minutes or even seconds like a game.

How much impact can instant feedback make?

B. F. Skinner, a famous psychologist, has used the operation design of instant feedback to teach the pigeons to learn to play table tennis, and it is incredible. This is the classic operational condition reflection experiment.

The basic design principle of this experiment is stimulation-reaction behavior-behavioral results.

That is, after an operation (playing table tennis) occurs, and then an intensive stimulus (feeding) is given, the intensity of the operation increases, resulting in some kind of behavior pattern.

Imagine if a child would get some of the rewards he wanted every time he finished his homework at a set time, would he be willing to change his habit of procrastination? If a man gets praise from his wife every time he cooks, will he be more motivated to cook?

This is where the impact of instant feedback lies.

On the issue of gaming addiction, a professor of psychology at Peking University explains: “Why do people like games? Because the rewards get in reality is too little, what reality can’t give, the game can.”