An online games designer says he is supportive of the BBC’s Panorama programme ‘Addicted to Games?’ claiming that some online developers are deliberately employing psychologically addictive techniques to get people hooked.
Writing in a Telegraph blog, Adrian Hon, CCO of Six to Start and who originally trained as a neuroscientist at Cambridge and Oxford, states: “If you’re making a boxed game like Gran Turismo or Grand Theft Auto, making your game incredibly compulsive doesn’t necessarily help sales, since you get the same amount of money whether your customer plays it for four hours or 40.
“But if you’re making a persistent online game that relies on subscriptions and microtransactions, then it’s very much in your financial interest to keep people playing as much as possible, for as long as possible.
“With investors and shareholders’ demands for constant growth, it’s hard to resist the siren call of techniques like compulsion loops and avoidance. The question of ‘fun’ becomes incidental – what matters is making money.”
“Games provide fun and amazing experiences for billions of people, and they’re not about to go away,” he says.
“But like everyone else, developers have commercial as well as artistic motivations, and in the race to create the next cash cow game, it’s possible that a small minority of players could be harmed by the very techniques that keep people playing. As a society, we need to be aware of that, and we need to be responsible.”