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Gaming Addiction and the Content Locust

BootezBootez Yucaipa, CAPosts: 57Member

I just read a book on drug and alcohol addiction, a memoir, actually, and it got me thinking about my own addictions. I began to wonder about the times in junior high when I was failing my classes, spending all the time I could playing games, specifically Diablo, Diablo 2, and Anarchy Online. This lasted all the way through high school and the beginning of college (after I convinced and begged admissions to let me in, saying that high school was only a phase). I remembered the weeks my report card would come when I was younger and my mother, doing the best she could with an addict, took the power cord from my computer. It wasn't long before I had backups and snuck on late at night to rejoin my digital friends. Then, I was caught. She took the computer away, the entire tower, hiding in her office at work where I couldn't access it. At that point, I went through what felt like physical withdrawals, intense anger, and I didn't realize until later what that was. It was addiction, mostly psychological, but addiction nonetheless. 


With this in mind, I start to wonder about my current state of mind, and the industry as a whole. There is so much talk of how "terrible" newly released games are, and how there seems to be no quenching for the hungry. We get our quick fix during the "content locust" phase, then we lose that momentum. We come down from the excitement of the new and start to want more. "There isn't enough endgame," we say; "There isn't enough content or innovation," we say. Are these not the sign of addicts? The alcoholic in the memoir had to continually drink more to feel that high again, then he moved onto other drugs such as speed and heroine. He started at nine years old.


Don't get me wrong, gaming addiction probably isn't on that exact level. Yes, we've heard the stories of broken families, deaths from malnutrition, and so on, but it doesn't seem to be as widespread. It rarely reaches that level. But the signs are there.


As a community, together, we have grown more and more addicted. We are just waiting for that next high and all of the irritation and cries on the forums is a symptom of that withdrawal. What happens when a company actually reaches the demand?


Will we find our weekly content updates to be satisfactory? Will the health and social issues become more frequent and scary? 


At this point, I think it is important to mention why I'm even bothering to write this. I feel like we are, like all addicts, placing the blame in the wrong places. The industry has evolved tremendously since its beginnings. We have games to satisfy every type of player. The issue isn't with the games, it isn't with the developers, it's with the addiction that has overcome us. 


I didn't realize this until I started looking at the games of the past and (as objectively as possible) compared how much they lack in comparison to the new generation of games.


These aren't bad games. Like one drink isn't bad. The problem is that we can't just have one, and the next needs to be more potent, cheaper, and last longer.


If this is true, where do we go from here? 


  • Beatnik59Beatnik59 Chicago, ILPosts: 2,252Member Uncommon

    Where do we go?  To see this industry for what it is: exploitive.

    There's a reason why our nomenclature is borrowed from vice industries (casual, hardcore, whale, etc.).  The imagery and incentives at play are powerful.  While neither the industry, nor the psychological community has came out and said these things are addictive, we as gamers know that they are, and know people who have problems.

    And anywhere where there is an addiction at play, and an industry that grows around supplying the addict, you are going to get exploitation.  That's what the business of MMOs is about, especially these days.

    So, what should we do?  We should educate ourselves.  We should read some Sherry Turkle and Edward Castronova.  Then we should act.

    "Its sad when people use religion to feel superior, its even worse to see people using a video game to do it."

    "...when it comes to pimping EVE I have little restraints."
    --Hellmar, CEO of CCP.

    "It's like they took a gun, put it to their nugget sack and pulled the trigger over and over again, each time telling us how great it was that they were shooting themselves in the balls."
    --Exar_Kun on SWG's NGE

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,946Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Bootez

    These aren't bad games. Like one drink isn't bad. The problem is that we can't just have one, and the next needs to be more potent, cheaper, and last longer.

    If this is true, where do we go from here? 

    • Lack of discipline
    • Lack of self control
    • Lack of guidance

    These are more likely scenarios than addiction for some people. I say 'some' because I'm not about to try to speak for everyone.

    Addiction is a convenient term because it's easier to say "I stayed up til 5AM playing a game and missed my ride to work/school the next morning because of my addiction," than it is to say," "I am personally responsible for my own actions and I just screwed up."  The former gives the easy out of shrugging and saying there's not much one can do, and the latter forces one to acknowledge the blame lies squarely on their own shoulders.


    Now, before some ex-drunk lectures me, I am talking solely about how it gets tossed around regarding gaming.


    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • darkhalf357xdarkhalf357x Brooklyn, NYPosts: 1,156Member Uncommon

    Well said. At first I didnt really know where you are going with this.

    I think the 'addiction' is bigger than games.  Over the span of the past 30 years the world shrunk down to the size of a neighborhood.  I can find out whats going on (nearly) everywhere in the world constantly.  That bombardment of perpetual information has led to information overload.   We are just being flushed with too much data.

    In respect to games, the challenge of the content has been removed through the information of the Internet.  No one figures out puzzles or challenges by themselves anymore.  You get stuck?  Get a FAQ.  Need help?  Go to a hints site.  Not sure of your build?  Visit a theorycrafting site.  And it not like there is just one.  There are hundreds covering every single aspect of the game pointing out and exposing everything.  Its akin to watching a movie where you know everything about it including how it was made.  You know all the plot twists.  You know how the special effects were done.  You know the backstory of how the actors felt.  Regardless of how good or 'acclaimed' the movie is... it will have lost some of its magic which made it special.

    This is what I believe has happened with MMOs.  Gamers today spend so much time TALKING and READING about the games instead of just playing them.  Every game that I have seen on this site that has been slammed as a failure or horrible game (i.e. GW2, TSW, TOR, TERA, RoM, WoW, PWI, I could go on for days...) have been fun to me in some form or fashion.  I have enjoyed each and everyone of those titles for what they are and appreciate the opportunity to have choices.

    You didnt have this level of choice in 1999.  You had a handful (if that) and that was it. period.

    So yes, I place blame on the gamers.  Instead of just not liking a game, they feel the need, the urge, to tell everyone not only why think "know" why the game sucks but also to convince you of your stupidity for playing it.  What is that all about?  This limited binary view of someone being a 'fanboi' or a 'hater' is simply idiotic... yet for every new game that comes out they instantly start the cycle over again.  Someone posts interest in Elder Scrolls Online and suddenly there is alarm not to perpetuate the hype.  What? It just doesnt make any sense and makes me question the thought process of some of the posters.

    Gamers need to take responsibility for thier own actions.  Stop blaming developers.  Your strongest voice is your support.

    We all (hopefully) love to play games.  Lets celebrate that diversity.  I wouldnt mind being overloaded in that fashion

  • ArclanArclan Chicago, ILPosts: 1,494Member Uncommon

    First off, I think 'content locust' is one of the more brilliant additions to the gaming dictionary. Cracks me up every time I hear it. Kudos to the originator.

    All these FTP games are counting on gamer addiction. They lure you in with free game play. But nearly all of them are P2W. For purposes of our discussion, let's discuss a hypothetical game that isn't P2W. Instead, everyone's character looks awfully similar. So you pay $$ to look different. So does everyone else. So you pay more $$ to look even more different.

    Luckily, i don't need you to like me to enjoy video games. -nariusseldon.
    In F2P I think it's more a case of the game's trying to play the player's. -laserit

  • Bastian_StarBastian_Star KANSAS CITY, MOPosts: 36Member
    Great read guys! Good stuff, thought provoking and very well put! Thanks to everyone for taking the time to share their thoughts.
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