Designing An Addictive Game Part 1/2 – Resources

I’ve been discussing and studying why some games are addictive, and started compiling a list of articles. In the first part of this article, I’ll mention several articles (along with some comments), and if you happen to have suggestions for some good articles that talk about addiction in games please feel free to share them and I’ll get them here.

Here’s 2 “must read” type of resources for you to check out:

Addiction and the Structural Characteristics of Massively Multiplayer Online Games
Thesis on MMO addiction, PDF version available. I think this is 122 pages filled with very, very relevant material for anybody into addiction in games.

Proposal: Ethical Game Design Practices
Really interesting discussion about addictions (at On-Line Gamers Anonymous) – some good talk about when addictive becomes destructive. I really recommend checking out this.

Then some more resources that might be worth checking out:

Gaming Addiction: Clearing The Air, Moving Forward
In page 4 it says:

In my own research into how MMO games might influence addiction, which you can read about on this site, players who preferred goal-oriented groups, or “hardcore raid guilds” were statistically more likely to sacrifice things like food, sleep and other real-world necessities (in regression analysis — which isolated those guilds from other game elements that might have otherwise contributed).

What Is The Most Addictive Game You’ve Ever Played? (2007-2008)
(Check out the comments too, there’s some really good (and quite familiar I’d presume) stuff – from you readers)

Almost 1 in 10 Young Video Game Users ‘Addicted’
Don’t know how true this is, but was worth checking out – some good points.

90% of Compulsive Gamers are Not “Addicts”
Pretty relieving point-of-view – so from overall gamers 1% is addicted? (Found via Writer’s Cabal)

The Megatrends of Game Design, Part 3
Quote about what makes MMO’s addictive:

These games have the unique characteristic of being exceptionally addictive, for three primary reasons:

1. They take place in a persistent virtual universe — the game has no ending, per se.
2. The game system relies on the endless improvement of the player’s avatar. In other words, the game offers an inexhaustible source of challenges to motivate players.
3. Their multiplayer dimension: it is far more stimulating to chase after a dragon with a bunch of friends than on your own.

A practical definition of innovation in game design
Article worth checking out – explains some layers of game design that can affect in “addiction”. Bookmark this blog too, good stuff there.

Game Friday: When Does Addictive Play Stop Being Valueable
Worth reading: it’s about benefits & addiction.

What Makes a Video Game Addictive?
There are several “hooks” that are built into games with the intent of making them “addictive”: High score, beating the game, role playing, discovery, relationships. (Interestingly this comes from “break your addiction” type of site…)

More resources:
See also Indiegamer thread about the subject.

Share your ideas:
If you know some good articles about addictive gaming, please feel free to bring them here. Let’s build a bloody big list about designing addiction.

(Part 2: Ethically wrong?)

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. From a player perspective.
    The reason why games are addictive for player, is because of playing a game can satisfy player’s mental desire. An interesting game will include some components which are attractive to make players falling into the game. However, some commentary shows that players are very easy to be addictive with playing games and it is a negative phenomenon. That might not be true, it depends on player-self management. Specifically, game is a tool which allow players to satisfy phycial and psychological deire and it dones not include any drugs to compel players playing with.
    However, one of comment said “game is so awesome to as to cause addiction, possible divorce or death”. It is very true and possible in real life. A real illustration happened in my country is that one student was playing on-line game in internet cafe for 3 days and he never stop to play the game. When he leaving th einternet cafe, he faint on the stree. After he was sent to hospital, he died. An other real illustration is that a married man has spent a lot of time on on-line game which players can chat with other players and even making a virtual boy friend or girl friend. However, the man was fall in love with his virtual girl and spent a lot of money to satisfy his virtual girl in real life. Once, the man’s wife found the suspected relationship, she divorced with her husband. These two example shown that games are awesome but if players cannot manage themselves, games will be a fatal weapon.

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