So what is it that brings you back to a game? When you are sitting around and get the itch to boot the same game back up again what is it? The drive for the next skin on a gun? Is it knowing that if you run and fetch the pieces needed for the blacksmith that he will forge you a new stronger sword? When you think of getting on with friends for the ten thousandth time on League of Legends what drives you?
Habits in gaming not only formed how we play the games we do but why we come back to them as well. The Cue, Routine, Reward cycle of habit loops are what leads us to become so addicted to certain types of games. It also is what makes normally menial tasks something we still do daily to get to the next level. To help describe some of this let’s look at a game that really increased the desire to return when it dropped back in 2007.
Also, check out Part one here Habits in Gaming Part 1
Call of Duty Modern Warfare came out with a surprise hit that soon led to an addicting franchise that only recently has started to peter out. Games like Halo, Quake, Doom, Medal of Honor and more had multiplayer in the games tacked in. Sure Halo was sweet when you had your shield and could handle some shots getting into you, but the mechanics could still be put into an average soldier as he stayed out of the fire. So what was it that brought this game into a habit with millions playing it and people diving deep?
When you get a kill in Modern Warfare and any title in the COD series since you get a satisfying little notification that you earned some experience. Get enough and you may gain a level with another satisfying sound cue that shows you are progressing in the game. It even gave you challenges to try to complete in the game such as a certain number of headshots, jumping from a set height or even kills with car explosions. It was a game changer.
Xbox live was huge before with Halo 2 and you had a small ranking system in the title that showed how good you were as a player. Yet, every time you spawned in you looked generally like everyone else and you played the match to your best ability and won or lost. The End.
Role-playing elements in games like a shooter shifted everything up in our habits. From a casual play of jumping on with friends to kill some time, I began to see people saying, “I just need to jump on and get ten more kills so I can unlock this item.” The cue was the game booted up and you saw how you could progress, your routine kicked in playing a ten-minute match in a blink of an eye and soon the reward of the next unlock had you on repeat.
We get into these trends because as people we always want to progress. If you aren’t growing you are dying as so many self-help books proclaim and it is true even in our video games. The desire to be the coolest, most equipped player goes into any franchise. Some games “giving” you everything for “free” such as League of Legends, Magic Arena, or Fortnite. You can, in fact, unlock everything through dedicated play and challenges that give you more of whichever in-game currency each one decides to use. These are games that are normally heavy tied to the skill and the desire to get ahead on them. The cue is the idea you can be the best, your routine puts you into the game and the reward is that satisfaction from when you win.
A hard fought for gank in League and a Chicken Dinner in PUBG gives you a dopamine rush regardless and that’s what we want. Games now have started giving you little wind throughout a match to keep you high on the fun times. A Battle Royal game is not a cake walk to get first place in and many times you come just short of achieving just that. When a title like Fortnite brings in tons of fun little challenges it keeps you coming into the title even if you aren’t winning every match. You finish something and say to yourself, “You know I didn’t win but I got that challenge and ranked up still, what is next?”
There is so much more than I can say on all of this, but I may start to finish it up right here. I want to apologize that this came out a day past when I originally said. No need for excuses, but damn have I been going through some tooth pain hell. The dentist has me on all sorts of stuff right now, but it is on the mend.
If this two-part article is something you liked, let me know in a comment or an email. It is something that I think I want to put a bit more research into but does take a little more time with it not being a just opinion piece. I’ll make sure the posting schedule gets back on track and all is normal again. So until next time, play games and be happy.