Reseachers Call For Less Addictive MMOs

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Reseachers Call For Less Addictive MMOs

World of Warcraft Pandaria screen

Researchers say that if MMO makers don't do something to curb the addictiveness of their games, Western governments may be forced to impose limits upon them similar to those in place in Asia.

We all know that conventional videogames have a definite beginning and end, while MMOs can effectively go on forever. It's this "inexhaustible" nature that researchers from universities in Cardiff, Derby and Nottingham Trent in the U.K. say makes them particularly problematic for the estimated seven to 11 percent of "pathological" gamers, some of whom play as many as 90 hours in a single session.

Some games carry messages warning against overuse, which Dr. Shumalia Yousafzai of the Cardiff Business School said indicates that MMO makers are aware of the addictive nature of their games (and thus at least indirectly complicit in process of addicting gamers), but "cyber psychologist" Dr. Zaheer Hussain said those warning messages are inadequate protection for players who are prone to becoming hooked.

"As a first step online game developers and publishers need to look into the structural features of the game design, for example the character development, rapid absorption rate, and multi-player features which could make them addictive and or problematic for some gamers," he said. "One idea could be to shorten long quests to minimize the time spent in the game obtaining a certain prized item."

Nottingham Trent University Professor Mark Griffiths said that while the proportion of gamers who develop problems will likely remain constant, "As online games get better and better and increasing numbers of people discover them, the number of addicts is most probably going to rise."

The study warned that if MMO makers don't do something to address the issue, governments may be forced to legislate usage limits.

Source: BBC

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You kidding me? The current MMO industry has been a race to the bottom to see who could make the most generic and boring MMO out there. They all go down a check list these days to make sure they meet the required number of required WoW factor. There hasn't been a fantasy MMO out there that I've enjoyed in the last 3 years, RIFT and TERA came close but they still missed the mark by a mile.

Definitely not the digital crack it is made out to be.

But isn't the whole point of running MMOs to make the legal equivalent of crack money? Why would they address such a thing without legislation?

Captcha: break a dollar.

Funny.

Wow, you can replace a lot of the references to games with dancing to rock 'n' roll or television and it's like a psychology time machine.

"Because your games are so addictive, we have helpfully suggested ways to help the game devs make the game worse/less fun."

While this guy may be blowing some hot air, he does give a fair warning.

Andy Chalk:
The study warned that if MMO makers don't do something to address the issue, governments may be forced to legislate usage limits.

Everyone knows how concerned the parenting/out-of-touch politicians are. This will undoubtedly come up in congress in the coming years. I'm not saying it will pass, but it will without a doubt be raised as a concern. I do acknowledge that addiction is a serious problem for people (as can be with any substance/hobby) the best concern to raise is that legislation for the few should not impede the masses, which it undoubtedly would (as well as hurt the market).

Captcha: sippy cup
Good job researchers, now put on your big boy diapers and join the real world.

The current entertainment culture would oppose any such attempt to legislate against MMO games in the USA. I'm not sure about elsewhere, though.

...And while you are at it make sure people can only buy 1 beer and 1 pack of cigarettes each day. Because, holy damn, 2 beer will destroy your entire life style.

Seriously, if people can't handle alcohol MMO's they shouldn't drink play as much or at all.

The very thing that prevents me from getting into MMO's is the amount of time they require. They are only for people who want to put their life into them. I think it's stupid that people devote so much time to these games, but I also don't feel that legislation against them is a good idea. If people are ruining their lives over an MMO, it's not the developer or publishers fault or responsibility. No one take responsibility for themselves, it's pathetic. If I lost my job because I HAD to do one more WoW raid, it's not the games fault or my friends fault, it's my fault. All legislation does is relieve people who do that kind of thing, of any kind of responsibility for their actions.

Colt47:
The current entertainment culture would oppose any such attempt to legislate against MMO games in the USA. I'm not sure about elsewhere, though.

Exactly this. Such a thing could end up hurting profits, and if there is one thing American companies won't abide, its legislation that hurts the bottom line.

Shifty ground to tread, but I can see were they are coming from. Think we have all been there where we have spent far too much time in an mmo, but for some people they take it to a level where far more time turns into 'all' of their time. That hurts them and their family.

but would those changes make any difference to that condition is something I would like answered. do we understand enough on what effects people in this way. is it simply that they are not aware of? I mean we all know cigarettes cause addiction and there is now a warning label stating such, but cigarettes still have additives in them and people still smoke anyways.

Games should be less evil and more about playing because we are having fun rather then tricking us so we keep spending money but good attentions sometimes do more harm then good. Hate to think how a government law could be stretched to impact how games are made in a bad way.

Telling an MMO makers to make their games less addicting is like telling tobacco companies to make their cigarettes less addicting. Perhaps we can regulate how many puffs the smoker takes; maybe make the cigarette shorter so they'll smoke less; we need to rethink the design of the cigarette so it can cause less cancer to the 100% of people that become addicted to our product.

I have, at the very least, one big problem with the researcher's claim
Even if (big if) the government did find and implement (even bigger if) a way to successfully render MMO's less 'addictive', I honestly feel the net result would be utterly trivial. Continuing on the should-be-obvious 'game's are not evil' train, people don't get addicted to MMO's, or anything else, in the first place just because of the game itself. It's certainly an expertly-designed skinner box once you're already inside it, but this suggestion by the researcher seems totally divorced from the underlying cause that initiates addiction: The game is giving these people something crucial that they are not receiving through normal daily function. All that happens, even if MMO's were outright banned, is these bunches of people who desperately need psychiatric attention move on to another form of self-medication. This is why I get worked up whenever people talk about any kind of addiction as if its somehow different from other forms of addiction.

I am quite confused. What are "Re-seachers"? I'm looking up on a dictionary for it, but I cannot find anything really conclusive.

It's okay
This researched stemmed from Derby and Nottingham Trent 'Universities'
Basically two of the shittest Uni's in the UK
It basically means nothing

As a rule of thumb I tend not to trust anyone who adds the word "Cyber" as a prefix to their job title.

That said, I think the only real problem is if the game designers are specifically setting out to make an "addictive" product. If they are putting their player integration rate above actually making the game fun. If that were the case then I'd agree that the games designers may need to be reigned in.

He makes a fair point, and makes some good suggestions on how to fix them.

Unfortunately, those suggestions come down to "remove the padding wrapped in skinner-box techniques" which is never going to happen ever as MMO makers would actually have to spend time and $$$ designing new content.

Doesn't that kinda defeat the whole purpose?

Fuck off. That's really all I have to say to them.

llamastorm.games:
It's okay
This researched stemmed from Derby and Nottingham Trent 'Universities'
Basically two of the shittest Uni's in the UK
It basically means nothing

So basically they're just trying to drum up controversy to get some ink and hopefully a little more cash with that?

Or prehaps we should stop humoring all the weak-willed brats who are stupid enough to get addicted in the first place.

This is like banning the construction of tall buildings because suicidal people keep jumping off the top floor. If a player decides to get addicted to an MMO and kill themselves playing it, it's their fucking responsibility (or their parents' responsibility if they're children). Taking out the "addictive" out of MMO is like taking the guns out of first person shooters.

This is just another example of orders coming from old people in high places and "researchers" who don't know a single thing about gaming, nerd culture, etc and most likely don't want to know due to not giving two shits.

I mean look at this drivel:

"One idea could be to shorten long quests to minimize the time spent in the game obtaining a certain prized item."

Then it wouldn't be a prized item would it, since practically every player and their baby would be able to obtain it? MMO 101?

MMO's are supposed to be a test of goal-setting and long-term-rewards. You work hard now and get rewarded later, you slog through content now and get rewarded with your prize, you struggle for endless hours to kill that ultra-elite-hardmode boss and he might drop something really awesome for you at the END.

That's the entire fun aspect, that's what attracts so many players. Yes it's not fun for some people, but that's why other types of games exist - that's the cool thing about gaming, there are different GENRES to satisfy everyone.

but, then they'd be shit... if they're concerned about the impact its having on 'teh childrenz', then blame shitty parents for not paying attention to what the kid is doing. if they're concerned about adults, then just fuck off. you shouldn't have authority here, stay the fuck out of what i do in my free time

I hope they get legislated. Maybe then MMO devs will be forced to make interesting games instead of a load of Skinner's boxes.

LetalisK:
Fuck off. That's really all I have to say to them.

llamastorm.games:
It's okay
This researched stemmed from Derby and Nottingham Trent 'Universities'
Basically two of the shittest Uni's in the UK
It basically means nothing

So basically they're just trying to drum up controversy to get some ink and hopefully a little more cash with that?

No idea really.
I would have guessed it simply being because all the worthwhile things to research had been taken up by reputable institutions and this was all they had left.

Okay then stop advertising bingo and poker websites on TV.

No?

This isn't going to change anything and if anything MMO's should become even more 'addictive' (See: Compulsion, not addiction.) than they are now, because there's not been any major booms of development of the formula in the last 8 years really.

MMO's are not addictive. Anyone who claims they are, are trivializing 'addiction' and blaming their own weak characters on something they're relying on to escape reality. Nothing in an MMO is chemically altering your physical makeup or mental capacity. Your lack of sleep, or bad eating habits as a result of playing too many games/mmo's? Yes that might be fucking you up a bit, but you still have control of yourself there.

That's like me blaming my incessant need to finish the Harry Potter books the night of release and staying up until the next day at 8:30am to do so, on the book.

Pretty. Fucking. Stupid.

llamastorm.games:
It's okay
This researched stemmed from Derby and Nottingham Trent 'Universities'
Basically two of the shittest Uni's in the UK
It basically means nothing

Ohhh okay. Escapist, I get the feeling you take British headlines way too seriously some days. There's a good chunk of reporting here that's about on par with Fox News. The only way to combat it, is to not pay it any heed, or it gets what it wants.

"Researchers call for less addictive MMOs"

Let me fix that for you:

"Researchers call for less addictive crack"

On a serious note, I once again reference Extra Credits: "Games are not addcitive, they do not physically alter the brain's chemistry, rather, they are compelling"

Also, if they wonder why they are almost addictive to some people, then they should either:

a) play the games themselves and see why people find them so interesting(a sense of community, a large world begging to be explored)

b) watch the extra credits episodes on Game Compulsion (because they are the only people that I have seen that understand the argument and provide the right answers(also because I got emotional on part 3))

synobal:
You kidding me? The current MMO industry has been a race to the bottom to see who could make the most generic and boring MMO out there. They all go down a check list these days to make sure they meet the required number of required WoW factor. There hasn't been a fantasy MMO out there that I've enjoyed in the last 3 years, RIFT and TERA came close but they still missed the mark by a mile.

Definitely not the digital crack it is made out to be.

May as well end the thread right there.

I broke my MMO habit by simply taking a short break to play some other better games. Came back and thought to myself "why did I stick with this for so long? It's kind of awful."

These days my friends and I crank out a monthly podcast reviewing MMOs. They're not all that addictive and even the ones that get their hooks in you can be thwarted fairly simply.

90 hours in a session?! ba-jesus! what's their secret?
there's not really a way to even regulate any of it effectively, the only thing you can do in my opinion is create talk-groups to help people who want to quit.

if they don't want to quit, they won't quit, you can't force them legally.

Well this is just... well, it's just plain stupid. It is clearly the fault of the MMO for being 'addictive' and not the person playing for sinking 90 hours into the game without breaks, great logic there 'researchers'. I mean I like MMO's, and when I find one I do like I play it pretty much during all my spare time during the day - SPARE time. Not the time I should be working or sleeping, just the time I have to spare (which is usually quite a bit, admittedly). I'm lucky in the aspect that end game grinding for loot bores the shit out of me, so I can never get really 'addicted' to an MMO, I tend to stop playing a few weeks after I hit max level and get semi-decent gear, but trying to stop people who do like that sort of content is just ridiculous. My friend used to raid several nights a week whilst keeping a full time job, it's the fault of the person (or that person's parents, depending on the age) if they get 'addicted' and spend unhealthy amounts of time playing an MMO.

I'm just going to leave and pretend I never read this now. It's just too ridiculous.

Andy Chalk:

We all know that conventional videogames have a definite beginning and end, while MMOs can effectively go on forever.

There are some non MMO games that can be played forever.

I'm looking at you, Bethesda.

Pffft, these people are barking up the wrong tree.

Everyone knows that turn based and grand strategy games are the true roots of video game addiction!

Tiamat666:

Andy Chalk:

We all know that conventional videogames have a definite beginning and end, while MMOs can effectively go on forever.

There are some non MMO games that can be played forever.

I'm looking at you, Bethesda.

Pretty much my thoughts. If your criteria for "conventional videogames" includes having a definite end, you've just excluded a wide swath of games, from Skyrim and Saints Row to Fruit Ninja and Tetris.

LetalisK:
Fuck off. That's really all I have to say to them.

llamastorm.games:
It's okay
This researched stemmed from Derby and Nottingham Trent 'Universities'
Basically two of the shittest Uni's in the UK
It basically means nothing

So basically they're just trying to drum up controversy to get some ink and hopefully a little more cash with that?

From what I hear, at least in the UK, that's basically what universities need to do these days to get noticed and therefore, get funding. A certain uni near me has a quota on the number of papers it's staff has to produce each year (otherwise they will get "marked down", I imagine). It wouldn't surprise me if this is something similar...some university staff needing to make their quota by the end of the year so decided to do some "research" on these game video things that people like to watch these days.

synobal:
You kidding me? The current MMO industry has been a race to the bottom to see who could make the most generic and boring MMO out there. They all go down a check list these days to make sure they meet the required number of required WoW factor. There hasn't been a fantasy MMO out there that I've enjoyed in the last 3 years, RIFT and TERA came close but they still missed the mark by a mile.

...What the hell did I just read o_O
First you say you dislike Wow-clones, then you say RIFT and TERA "came close but missed by a mile" (???) but both those games borrow HEAVILY from WoW. Rift especially is basically WoW with a different color palette, even the fans agree.

So you've played RIFT and TERA and say that MMO's are shallow WoW clones. Talk about irony.

Try EVE Online, Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2.

MarsProbe:

LetalisK:
Fuck off. That's really all I have to say to them.

llamastorm.games:
It's okay
This researched stemmed from Derby and Nottingham Trent 'Universities'
Basically two of the shittest Uni's in the UK
It basically means nothing

So basically they're just trying to drum up controversy to get some ink and hopefully a little more cash with that?

From what I hear, at least in the UK, that's basically what universities need to do these days to get noticed and therefore, get funding. A certain uni near me has a quota on the number of papers it's staff has to produce each year (otherwise they will get "marked down", I imagine). It wouldn't surprise me if this is something similar...some university staff needing to make their quota by the end of the year so decided to do some "research" on these game video things that people like to watch these days.

Kinda makes me happy about my university. I don't know if they had quotas, but I know the head of the psychology department at my university had one research topic he stroked the shit out of for a couple years before he published it.

Yuuki:

synobal:
You kidding me? The current MMO industry has been a race to the bottom to see who could make the most generic and boring MMO out there. They all go down a check list these days to make sure they meet the required number of required WoW factor. There hasn't been a fantasy MMO out there that I've enjoyed in the last 3 years, RIFT and TERA came close but they still missed the mark by a mile.

...What the hell did I just read o_O
First you say you dislike Wow-clones, then you say RIFT and TERA "came close but missed by a mile" (???) but both those games borrow HEAVILY from WoW. Rift especially is basically WoW with a different color palette, even the fans agree.

So you've played RIFT and TERA and say that MMO's are shallow WoW clones. Talk about irony.

Try EVE Online, Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2.

Rift was a step in the right step with the idea of dynamic events, Tera was close with their combat system. I've yet to play guild wars so I can't comment on it, but Eve Online was my first MMO and is still my MMO of choice.

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