A player’s Struggle in Video Games Causes Them to Come Back for More
Video games have grabbed the attention of our youth, for decades now. Especially now, when it comes to perfecting their skills. Players will do whatever it takes to stay engaged. They’ll push themselves beyond their mental limits, just so they can have a good social standing on a ladder in a video game.
This may sound fine and dandy on paper, but being a player with an addiction is nothing to marvel at or be proud of. Honestly, anyone that takes the time to be very skilled in a video game will want to keep playing to hone their skills, but the truth dives a little deeper than that. But there are a few things that need to be understood first.
The first thing to be acknowledged is what causes a player to turn the game on and play again. There are a few different contributing factors. The first one is the feeling of Dopamine that players have when they play. Amy Webb, in her article, The Revealing Reasons Why Kids Love Video Games explains that Dopamine is “a neurotransmitter in the brain that becomes active when individuals participate in something fun and pleasurable.” She also goes on to say that most studies done by other researchers on this topic have related to the rise in dopamine levels similar to those with a drug addiction, even though the levels aren’t as high as drug users.
Some players like to play just for the feeling. They enjoy the rush they get when they play, and for them, that’s just enough. The rush encourages and enables them to pick up the controller and play again.
Another key contributor to players getting hooked to video games is the reward system that they have in place for the players. The reward systems are easy to understand. If a player performs well in a lobby or on a mission, they’ll be rewarded. The harder the mission or the level of the game, the better they’ll be rewarded. If a player’s performance is poor, or not up to the level’s standard, they won’t be rewarded, and in some cases, they’ll even be punished.
With that being said, players will do whatever they can to keep themselves from falling too far. If they lose too much, or lose one point too many, then they’ll fall down a level and it’ll take more time and effort to get themselves back up to the level they were once on before. Amy Webb elaborates on this point in her article. The author states, “Kids playing these games know they will get a reward eventually but do not know when or how often it’s coming. This only heightens their compulsion to continue playing.” Webb goes on to explain how the obstacles with varying rewards can “produce a ‘hit’ of dopamine that makes for games that most adults can’t resist, not to mention kids.”
Winning in video games can also keep players coming back. Wanting to uphold their status, as already mentioned players will do whatever they can to put themselves on top. The article from changingminds.org, explains the reason players want to put themselves through such a thing. “Stemming from [the need to win], winning also leads to the esteem of others and increasing social status. Competitions provide a safe method of winning and gaining this good feeling in a way that mostly does not require harmful physical combat. Winning in games can hence lead to benefits in real life as others admire your skill and give you higher overall status.”
There are studies that show that video games support the idea that sufficient skills can promote someone to higher social status. Psychology and Competitive Gaming, says professional success in competitive gaming seemingly requires persistent practice and sophisticated skill sets. It is likely that these positive effects are more substantial than the effects of gaming more generally in lieu of the positive effects of competitive gaming, particularly in relation to improved spatial cognitive benefits.”
Another aspect of games that should be mentioned is the competitive nature of the video games themselves. Outside of the players working themselves to be the best in the servers, there is the gameplay, which could contribute to the competitive nature of the games. The competitive nature of video games is different from that of a regular game with a win or lose outcome. Some games have the variable component in them, where basically anything can happen.
To keep the game exciting to its players, they tend to chance and skill to make it more enjoyable for all. The set ups of the servers won’t have a person that just joined the game play against the strongest and most skilled players in the game. That doesn’t make sense, and that would cause players to stop playing the game altogether. Instead of the servers doing this, the servers will put players of similar skill together. That way, the element of chance and skill are put into effect when determining the winner of different games.
The changingminds article addresses this idea from their article. The author of this article says, “The best games are often those which mix chance and skill such that a good player will be more likely to win, yet weaker player always has a chance to win. Over a series of games, though, if skill is involved then the most skillful player will win more often.”
Obviously, there are a number of different reasons that could begin to scratch the surface as to why video games continuously draw their players back. The competitive nature of video games is set up in a way that puts players against those a little above their skill level and a little below their skill level, that way the different players can never get bored of playing against the same people over and over again.
Not only the competitive nature, but also the reward system of the games. The reward system tends to give players more and more based on how well they do. Not only that, but there is no telling when they’ll get their next reward, which to them is all the more reason to keep playing.
The relationship between a player and the video game is based on what the game offers, and the player brings to the table themselves. With those two things combined, it bring the players right back for them to enjoy the game more than they did the last time they played.
Competitive games. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://changingminds.org/disciplines/game_design/types_game/games_competitive.htm
Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Psychology and competitive gaming. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-excess/201512/psychology-and-competitive-gaming
Webb, A. (2020, December 30). The revealing reasons why kids love video games. The Thoughtful Parent. Retrieved from https://thoughtfulparent.com/why-are-video-games-addicting.html#:~:text=Some%20research%20has%20shown%20that,equating%20it%20to%20drug%20addiction.