[MUD-Dev] Dopamine and addiction

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Tue Dec 16 19:34:16 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

"Rayzam" <rayzam at travellingbard.com> writes:

> you can replace 'games' with 'sleep'. We need sleep. The benefits
> of entertainment are currently intangible/ephemeral, yet by
> mother's wisdom there are benefits.

Hmm... Benefits of entertainment in general? Yes, "bread&circus" has
a soothing effect on the society. Short term personal benefits:
sure, escapism (delay decisions and actions without feeling guilty

> of the beholder. So if someone is addicted to a game, and that
> affects his life negatively, did the game cause the addiction [and
> thus ethical game design is an issue], or does the individual have
> an addictive personality and manifest it in the game?

I think I disagree with your premises. I consider you to be
responsible if people with an illness is getting hurt by your
product/artifact if you ought to know better.

Anyway, pure numbers and the fact that players stay in activities
they find boring... ought to suggest something beyond that? But I
suppose it would be easier to show this to hold/not hold for a
predisposed person. So we can stick to that.

>   - does the person have some threshold that after so much intense
>   game playing, now becomes addictive.

Hm. In general the most likely would be that they are designed in a
way which makes players perceive it as meaningless to play less than
30 hours every week. So eventually you need to get your daily "shot"
of dopamine?  And there are no obvious opportunities for exit
(unlike some reset based games that at least go through

>   player games, then online games. You need bigger fixes with
>   biological addictions after all. That'd be either more intense
>   experiences, or more time spent overall to increase the dose/day
>   or dose/week.

You need more and more sex? More and more food? No?

>   - is a games addiction replacing a more destructive addiction?
>   I'm not saying mogs can replace say alcohol addiction.

Yes, I know of cases, but that is a rather selfdefeating argument
unless the doctor prescribed it! ;)

> person's interactions with others? Some people are too shy to
> interact in person, but find that they can online.

Somehow pure chatsystems seem to have less impact? Or?

> can overcome it. Or it could cost him a job and a family. Both are
> extremes of the continuum once more.  - is it the PvP aspect?

Hehe, I am sure the PvP can be a reason (revenge, "you are not going
to force me out of the system"), but PvP isn't really widespread.

> Perhaps its a form of anger management. Perhaps its an outlet to
> deal with abusive situations that the person is stuck in.  Or
> maybe it will provoke real life violence.

I am sure it would. Take away the addictive substance and addicts
will get angry ;).

> Overall, the question about whether our games are ethical or not
> is complicated and nuanced.

Mmm... I find it easier and easier to say that they are not
ethical. Year by year. I would have less problems with them if the
users actually had true freedom to create. It is not the "world"
part I think is the most troublesome, it is the "game"
part. Although it is sad that players in general don't have the
opportunity to meet in person and give hugs.

Ola - http://folk.uio.no/olag/
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