scheffgames

Ethics in creating addicting games.

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Let me start by saying that I didn't knew games were addictive until I've experienced League Of Legends. I binge played 24 hours after some initial 4 hours of messing around. Uninstalled it the next day - still had dreams about it the next night :). 

It seems that's quite a thing - mmo addiction. There's a subreddit that's full of people describing how it ruined their lifes. 

I know that most of us make casual games - hardly addictive - but those of you who work on mmo's, do you think about this particular side effect? Obviously one can't be responsible on how others use a product one created but it made me a bit self-conscious about the game industry and how it affects people. 

I heard stories about gifted programmers that refused to work on military projects (killing people and all that) - maybe it's not on the same level but I think it's worth considering when working on highly addictive stuff.

 

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I think morally you do need to look at what your game achieves. Too many games, especially in the mobile market, take advantage of addictive tendencies, while not being an enjoyable game at its core. But then some games are extremely fun and just because you want to play a lot, I can't categorize that as addicting. When I am not satisfied after playing a game, or feel like I'm wasting time, these are the first flags of addicting gaming, in my eyes.

Honestly what ever makes you sleep at night, I know I would feel horrible if I created a game that 0.1% of people spend huge amounts of their money on in game currency.

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You should prevent inappropriate behavior in your games. If you have in app purchases, you should have a reasonable monthly max value you allow the player to spend.

Not only to prevent spending huge amounts of money from your players, but to keep the game balanced for not paying players.

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I think telling the big gaming companies to limit their "addictiveness" in their game is like telling business to give away some of their revenues. Of course there are some developers who may be moral enough to reduce their game's addictive elements, but I doubt the most developers will.

In addition, if you reduce your game's addictive elements, it is likely that your competitors won't and will take away your users.

I also think it is better to reduce addictive elements in the game for the sake of your users, but it is just impractical.

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23 hours ago, scheffgames said:

I heard stories about gifted programmers that refused to work on military projects (killing people and all that) - maybe it's not on the same level but I think it's worth considering when working on highly addictive stuff.

 

A programmer does program, if the program would be used for evil purpose or not its not our concern.

I worked for 2 banks and they are really evil (sulphur included)

In this case, we are not parents so its not our responsibility.

 

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@magallanes Well maybe it's true if one's working on a generalist piece of code - like a math or drawing library. But if you're writing a military drone navigation software then you can be sure it's going to be used for that specific purpose - one can lie to himself that it's not his problem how that software it's used but morally it's a slipper slope. If one makes guns one  can't pretend that they're not going to be used for killing people. 

Just saying that when creating a product (or working on one) that will impact people lives in significant ways we're bearing a certain amount of responsibility and we should be aware of it both for our and other's sake.

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nrd    0

I've never played an addicting game in my life. But I admit having searched through the images in seasons of sakura for something like a day. I'm actually handicapped and I wish I could substitute this by the ability to play games in a way so they are addicting to me. I have no idea why this wouldn't the most fun ever.

I like the idea of civil disobedience @ programmers and military.

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On 4/8/2017 at 3:41 PM, scheffgames said:

Let me start by saying that I didn't knew games were addictive until I've experienced League Of Legends. I binge played 24 hours after some initial 4 hours of messing around. Uninstalled it the next day - still had dreams about it the next night :). 

It seems that's quite a thing - mmo addiction. There's a subreddit that's full of people describing how it ruined their lifes. 

I know that most of us make casual games - hardly addictive - but those of you who work on mmo's, do you think about this particular side effect? Obviously one can't be responsible on how others use a product one created but it made me a bit self-conscious about the game industry and how it affects people. 

I heard stories about gifted programmers that refused to work on military projects (killing people and all that) - maybe it's not on the same level but I think it's worth considering when working on highly addictive stuff.

 

People with addictive personalities are going to get addicted to something. Getting hooked on a HTML5 game is a helluva lot better than getting hooked on booze, cocaine, or stealing ladies underwear.

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Honestly as long as it's not against the law of the given country, I'll just try to make it as addictive as I can. I'll adjust it after there are complaints. Just like current popular stamina system exists in mobile games (even back from Facebook games). :D

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When we use the word 'addictive' in the gaming context, we usually mean engaging.

You are only addicted to a game when you cannot stop playing while it hurts you and/or the people around you.

You are not addicted to a game when you can stop playing even if it hurts you and/or the people around you.

If you can choose to walk away without great strain you are not addicted. The game could make you feel like you really want to play it but that's just that it's really engaging.

 

What @vornay mentioned it a tiny fraction of the population. These are the personalities that get addicted to games for real. The average person can usually walk away if it really comes down to it.

For instance @scheffgames was able to uninstall the game after he was really engaged. That does not point to a real addiction because he was able to quit just like that.

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When the market gets tougher to break even, the morality of it lowers :P 

What is addictive for some might not be addictive for others. I was immediately overwhelmed by LoL, Dota, etc. I see these games as a mix of:

  • Having to learn 200+ items, 200+ spells, gazillion builds in order to be competitive
  • Even if good, you still depend on 4 other players.
  • Contanstly needing to watch the minimap and be able to click often and accurately.

As a game developer,  I try to figure out what's the formula of being good at a particular multiplayer game, and if it's something boring/time consuming/luck based/stressful, I'm turned off.

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I don't find learning to be addictive by definition, more features, more moves, more characters, more variety and team play is where I find value in a game.

Its the free loot they give you once a day you need to login for or those micro payments because something takes hours if not days to finish unless you pay to speed it up... those are the demons that loom over gaming now.

Finding ways to nickle and dime players while giving them an almost unlimited grind for small upgrades. I mostly blame this on the World of Warcraft, where for me the game wasn't that fun, just knowing you were a higher level then a friend or had cooler items, that was all that really mattered.

Their is definitely a thin line between addicting game play and a great game, if you enjoy playing a game and don't feel like its a task, I say good that is not addicting game play. And sadly like @vornay said, some people can get addicted to anything, look at gambling, you can't change that, that is a mental health issue.

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23 hours ago, rgk said:

Its the free loot they give you once a day you need to login for or those micro payments because something takes hours if not days to finish unless you pay to speed it up... those are the demons that loom over gaming now.

Biggest demons are doing everything right as a non-paying user - frequent logins, grinding, doing smart strategies - and thinking you actually have a chance against paying users until you realize you've been dancing on the developers palms all the time and you can't compete with them :D 

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On 5/12/2017 at 3:28 PM, rgk said:

Its the free loot they give you once a day you need to login for

In this time of near endless options for entertainment every competing company uses some sort of behavioral lure to keep users hooked to their product/service. Daily rewards are a way to trigger a player to come back every day so that they stay engaged to a product. However, daily reward triggers do not work if a player does not find the game fun. I don't think this is necessarily a demon as much as cliffhangers are demons in your favorite television series.

On 5/12/2017 at 3:28 PM, rgk said:

or those micro payments because something takes hours if not days to finish unless you pay to speed it up... those are the demons that loom over gaming now.

I used to think micro payments were horrible too but if a player perceives enough value from a game to warrant a transaction then who are we to say what they can or cannot do. If a player gets an endorphin high from buying a speed-up in their favorite grind game - who are we to say what they should or should not be playing? The whole world is constructed from these sorts of meaningless purchases. Does that make the return value (satisfaction) for the investment (micro-transaction) is any less real (even if it's a speed-up)? Of course not.

These things work because they do add some value to a player's daily life. It is natural that a more core-gamer would look at these things and sneer but I think that is because a core-gamer cannot really put himself in a shoes of a casual gamer that fuels games like clash of clans. I could be wrong though.

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I recently saw this YouTube video about addictive mobile games which talks about the problem of clones in the App and Play Store. I think a lot of what is mentioned is true. Clones are the sign of an immature market and even though it's annoying every time Nintendo sends a cease and desist to any young developer making a semi-cool Zelda or Mario game, it is entire due to stopping devaluation of inferior products. 

 

Addictive games...seems to be a smaller problem for solo developers than large developing studios, but I suspect we are all aware what comes with great power...

 

 

 

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I'm coming at this from the standpoint of a gamer and I think the actual subject we would discuss in the gaming community here is the grind, not its addict-ability - if the game lasts 10 minutes are you really gonna play it for a year? A game has to be addictive and it has to last a LOOOOONG time in order to really succeed in the MMO space. The subject for a gamer here is really "the grind". If we're 60 minutes in we're already addicted - just give us enough game play to stick around - look at any "non-addicting" games in the console space like fallout, gta, which i've poured 1000's of hours into - they don't employ any crazy tactics to keep me interested, they just have better more fleshed out games which mean they don't need those tactics.

Im a grinder and i've developed marginally successful text based mmo's which were a grind to play, but that was almost what the core gameplay mechanic was, as it is in most games. this was over 7 years ago and the new social/p2w grind wasn't as popular back then.

As a grinder I actually enjoy the long haul challenge I'm sometimes set - or the pay to win (aslong as the price is around the same as paying for a desktop game). I can see the different tactics employed by game studios to keep me logged in, or pay up for faster progression and I like to think I'm logical enough to find the balance as a gamer (even though sometimes I've binged easily 40+hr grinds and £100+ on micropayments).

As I said, I think I'm logical enough to see this, and find balance - but some people don't have that ability and of course game studios are preying on that, but does that make it wrong?

I don't know if I'd ever make a game as geared towards grind or p2w as the typical "social mmo" these days, but then again I've not seen the huge amounts of success they have, whereby no one person (owner/creator) feels guilty about what they're doing.

I'll grind and pay for just about anything as long as I think it's fun or challenging - and I kinda feel like everyone would say the same thing. If I complete a game in 1000 hours, it feels much more satisfying than one completed in 10.

(But on a personal note: some of these newer social MMO's take the 'mick' and can barely be called a game by more seasoned gamers)

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If you mention "an irresistable urge to play non-stop" , I had it for Skyrim and KOTOR 1 in the past. But thing is they were single player and great. But when it comes to stupid casual games with day 1 goal of "squeeze as much as money with stupid gameplay forcing people" , that's another story. ( I suggest you to watch whole Southpark episode of " Freemium isn't free " )

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4duJdeKTwHY

But there is another angle of it , I'm still not sure if a freemium game can sustain without relying on small percentage of payers (therefore shaping game for them) , so is this due to greed or is it inevitable for the survival.

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