siliconwafer writes: "An article in The Economist raises some interesting points about addiction to video games, drawing from psychology and sociology to describe why certain people prefer certain types of games, and why they might become addicted to them. It is suggested that to discourage addiction, game designers could have their games recognize addictive behavior and respond to it by encouraging gamers to take breaks. Do game designers have any responsibility to recognize addictive behavior, or does this responsibility fall solely on the gamer (or the gamer's parents in the case of a minor)?"
Depends on the "pestering" I guess. I still play Tera which hits the usual generic Korean MMO addictive points, but every hour it pops up a message saying you've been playing for "X" hours. There's been more than a few times I lost track of time and thought "has it been that long already?", and logged off. I'd assume most would just ignore that kind of message, but I think there's merit to reminding people how much time they've invested in a game. Most people I knew who into World of Warcraft were afraid to type in /played.
Yep. I was about to jump in and say that personal responsibility has to start somewhere, even for the addicted.
On the other hand, having some kind of optional, unobtrusive reminder to help you synchronize back to the real world now and then might not be a bad idea.
Depends on the "pestering" I guess.
Exactly. It's a game. If they're going to try to get you to take a break, then it ought to be in a fun way. For instance, they might suggest that you go do something else utterly strange. Pull a string from fortune, and incorporate it the way that Slashcode does. Try to be witty, or clever, or just silly.
What you don't want is a message that sounds like your mother/wife/partner/judgemental-pet-of-choice. That's the sort of thing that games are supposed to help you get away from. You could even go so far as incorporate external activities into the game somehow (achievements?).
Bottom line, I know that I'm increasingly aware of just how bad it is for me to sit almost perfectly still and stare at a screen for hours on end. Like many, though, I can easily lose myself in a game, especially the complex sorts that I prefer. It'd be nice to have a periodic reminder to get up and move around, and if it's also amusing, it would add something to the game as well.