Researchers Suggest MMOs Feed "Problematic Behavior"

Researchers Suggest MMOs Feed "Problematic Behavior"

Games have three large risk factors that can keep players tied to a game, researchers say.

New research on videogames argues that games with reward systems can create addictive behavior to games and that the "problematic behavior" is not an effect of the time spent on the game but the reasons for playing.

"It's not a question of just how many hours you're playing," Joseph Hilgard, University of Missouri psychology professor, said in a MU News Bureau video. "We're actually measuring, 'Are you having problems because of how much you're playing?' Just like in alcoholism, if you're drinking to forget about how bad you feel, if you're gaming to forget about how bad you feel, you may be more likely to have a game problem."

According to Hilgard and research partners Christopher R. Engelhardt and Bruce D. Bartholow, escapism, social interaction, and rewards in games can cause players to allow their gaming time impact school or work performance. Hilgard says MMORPGs like World of Warcraft have "all three risk factors."

"Most players join teams or guilds," Hilgard said. "If some teammates want to play for four hours on a Saturday night, the other players feel obligated to play or else they may be cut from the team."

Hilgard, Engelhardt, and Bartholow note that a common drawback to games research is the tendency to treat all games as homogenous. The research concludes, "Players are motivated to play games insofar as those games can provide the fulfillment of psychological needs, but different players will seek to fulfill those needs through different ways."

Source: Frontiers via Game Politics

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Seems reasonable enough. I only worry that politicians will take this sober, well balanced study and warp it as an argument against games in general.

Well duh, just take a look at those insane Korean MMO players. Completely addicted and detached from real world obligations. I only play MMO's if I like the theme of the game and if I can play solo. Which, luckily, I can with SWTOR and STO.

What, you say that a game genre where profits are generated by keeping the same set of players invested for many months in a row tends to result in games that cause players to become addicted? How could that possibly be true?

I could have told you that. I have a friend who is the benchmark of "WoW Feeding Problematic Behavior".

He's almost 22 and still in high school.

Aren't those kinda extremely general risk-factors though?

I mean engaging a overly much in an activity that one considers rewarding, social and capable of making you forget about bad stuff seems kinda something humanity has been doing since well before games, computers or any of that came along.

Seriously, how many people would not describe their favorite hobby as:
- rewarding
- social
- allowing you to get away from life

This just smells of the kind of research where a conclusion is only reached because the initial premise was so vaguely defined that just about any experiment would confirm it, then again I've always been more for the physical sciences than the social ones.

lacktheknack:
I could have told you that. I have a friend who is the benchmark of "WoW Feeding Problematic Behavior".

He's almost 22 and still in high school.

What the fuck is that guy doing with his life? How is that possible?

Adam Jensen:

lacktheknack:
I could have told you that. I have a friend who is the benchmark of "WoW Feeding Problematic Behavior".

He's almost 22 and still in high school.

What the fuck is that guy doing with his life? How is that possible?

What's he doing with his life? Playing WoW.

It's possible because, as the article says, MMOs feed this kind of problematic behavior. So it's a self-feeding cycle.

Based on my own experiences and consequences I find this pretty accurate. I've done "worse" things longer and came out of it better than I came out of MMO addiction.

"Most players join teams or guilds," Hilgard said. "If some teammates want to play for four hours on a Saturday night, the other players feel obligated to play or else they may be cut from the team."

If we changed this to say..."If some friends want to go on to a nightclub on a Saturday night, the others feel obligated to go with them or else they might not be invited out next time."

Or what if it was a five-a-side football team?

What would be the difference? There's always a certain amount of peer pressure in any social or team setting, most of them, and I would include gaming, aren't usually detrimental to people. (And in gaming, many guilds will understand if you have prior rl commitments, not all, but a great many).

So having a social aspect in your game is now a danger zone? I guess i better block all those friends from all games i have now.

Sgt Pepper:
"Most players join teams or guilds," Hilgard said. "If some teammates want to play for four hours on a Saturday night, the other players feel obligated to play or else they may be cut from the team."

If we changed this to say..."If some friends want to go on to a nightclub on a Saturday night, the others feel obligated to go with them or else they might not be invited out next time."

Or what if it was a five-a-side football team?

What would be the difference? There's always a certain amount of peer pressure in any social or team setting, most of them, and I would include gaming, aren't usually detrimental to people. (And in gaming, many guilds will understand if you have prior rl commitments, not all, but a great many).

If anything, id say this problem is less in videogames because any guild i ever joined always had a policy of "real life first, game second" stated. I could miss a war event which would cause our guild to loose battle and they would understand, because i had stuff to do in RL.

lacktheknack:

Adam Jensen:

lacktheknack:
I could have told you that. I have a friend who is the benchmark of "WoW Feeding Problematic Behavior".

He's almost 22 and still in high school.

What the fuck is that guy doing with his life? How is that possible?

What's he doing with his life? Playing WoW.

It's possible because, as the article says, MMOs feed this kind of problematic behavior. So it's a self-feeding cycle.

I dont think WOW is whats wrong with him.

So you're telling my that if you're a loser who plays video games all day you might actually be a loser who plays video games all day?

Huh... Who would've thought?

So today researchers learned that MMOs are Skinner boxes? Well done, gentlemen

- Signed a former 6 year veteran of WoW.

So do a lot of video games. But MMO's are classic examples of basic psychology, mainly the Skinner box reward system via loot drops and RNG. Couple that with grind for various items and various sets of gear and you got a problem.

GW2 being very grindy, is a good example. Check out how to get a legendary weapon in that via crafting and it's insane. Literally insane. I never played the old EQ games, I'm not a dinosaur (hue), but several people I know have told me the legendary weapon grind is as bad as the grind in the days of EQ.

I think a lot of gamers are susceptible to that sort of thing, I can be too. It's kind of scary, but two things save me. I hate the bullshit politics of MMO players, and grind burns me out at a quick pace so I just stop playing.

Everyone needs they're poison, this is mine.

 

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