You play games, but do you know why it is interesting?

Nearly most of us have played phone games before, and many of us are still spending hours playing games every day. Do you ever think about why gaming is so addictive? As a gamer myself, I spent quite a lot of time playing computer games, but I don’t think it was all a waste of time. With my interest in the addictive component in gaming, I have gathered some reasons.

First of all, gaming can boost one’s optimism. Gaming is fun and simple. You know you are going to have fun when you play games, and you get rewarded when you defeat your enemies. The amusement and anticipation we get before and during gaming can turn on the reward system in our brains, including neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which releases the feeling of pleasure, satisfaction, and confidence. In addition, games always consistently reward effort, and positive feedback is frequent and clear. Some games even reward you simply by logging in.

Furthermore, gaming has an element of uncertainty. This mysterious and unpredictable quality in games has a striking resemblance with a slot machine in casinos where the variable ratio schedule of reinforcement system is applied. Without a sense of when you will be rewarded, you will continuously play the game without knowing when to stop. For example, in a video game called Assassin Creed, there are many chest boxes, which you will only get coins and useless items, yet at some points, you will get a rare nice weapon. As a result, you will feel lucky and motivated to open every chest box. It should be clear that this is actually not luck, but instead a series of calculated randomness which programs the reinforcement not to be rewarded too soon or too late, resulting in a steady and high response rate.

It is also worth noting that gaming often has multiple short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals usually incorporate specific and easy to achieve tasks, allowing one to feel a sense of gratification. The aim of these short term goals is a step-by-step process to accomplish long-term goals. As a matter of course, long-term goals would create a sense of purpose and direction. The short-term and long-term goals ultimately aim to help you gather momentum and motivation to keep you engaged with the game.

Besides discovering and achieving goals, gaming always involves social interaction, one of the most essential aspects to live a healthy life. The social aspects of gaming can be teaming up with other players, playing against others or simply sharing your result or talk about gaming with your friends. Undoubtedly, one can build close relationships with people through video gaming, similar to playing board games or card games. The social behavior can be easily attained with no regard to time and geographical differences through the internet.

Now that we have a better understanding as to why gaming is so attractive to us, the next thing we need to consider is how to avoid getting addicted to gaming. The most important key is self-regulation. Setting a specific time daily for video gaming can help with building a self regulating habit. It is crucial to follow the schedule and stop playing after the time is up. It is also encouraged to take a break every hour or every half an hour from gaming so that you would be mindful of how much time you have spent on gaming. Further, finding other hobbies aside from gaming can lower the risk of getting addicted, such as reading books, doing exercise, and listening to music. It would be preferred to have other options besides gaming to keep your hands and mind busy. Overall, playing video games is never bad or wrong as long as you know how to balance it with other parts of your life. When played in moderation, it can be an excellent entertainment to relax.

Editor’s note: Gaming is certainly a great way to relieve stress sometimes! Here are some more wellbeing tips alternatively for you. Let’s get active together!