Happy Wednesday all! It's time for another For Science!!! This week will be the first in a multipart series investigating MMO and the draws to them. Grab a beverage and put on your thinking cap, it's time to get started.
As noted above, this is the first in a multipart series regarding the things that go on with MMOs and your brain. We will first discuss something that is part of MMOs, but not exclusive to MMOs by nature. I am talking, of course, about loot. Not to be confused with the musical instrument, loot is one of the most powerful psychological drivers that urge us to play more and more. Why is loot so alluring? It's like winning the lottery in some aspects. When people win or get an unexpected prize, the brain typically releases dopamine.
As you may recall, dopamine is our little happy chemical that our brains produce. Aside from loot-based games being fun, such as Borderlands, Diablo and your garden variety MMO, there are powerful reward signals going on when you play and get an unexpected item or an upgrade. Now, you're probably saying to yourself 'That's all fine and good Mr. Seething, but I don't play these games for the loot, I play them simply because I enjoy them'. You are probably correct, though the fact that your brain will naturally produce these chemicals in response to the actual receiving of said loot, internally you're probably smiling.
The main problem with this is that these same 'winning' aspects from loot can be found in other counterparts that have a much darker side: gambling addiction. I'm not saying that people who play these types of games will become slot machine junkies. What I am saying is the same brain activity exists between the two when you win or receive your loot. The main difference is people who suffer from gambling addiction have been shown to have some deficiency with impulse regulation. The stakes are different, that being an item versus real money, but the reactions are similar studies have found.
That's it for this week's For Science!!! Next week we will delve into the second aspect of MMOs: social interactions.
Feel free to leave any comments or questions below.