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)?"
You're ignoring the fact that some game designers *try* to get players addicted. Adding something that recognizes that that goal has been met in spades isn't a bad idea.
"Programmers here know what I'm talking about, it'd be adding really bad bloat to add a timer that spits out a warning."
Programmer here. Really bad bloat to add a timer? Really?? It would be trivial to count user actions (like mouse activity) and suggest a break when some threshold was met. A simple timer would ignore cases where the user was actually doing something else (like typing IMs on his phone or whatever)
I'm not ignoring it, in fact that's the goal of all people doing games. They want people to play it. That's the entire point. Yes I'm aware of the dirty tricks con men like Zynga use to exploit the mind but still that is not enough justification to impose this crap on people. This mindset is a lot like the "internet addiction" one, equating video games with drugs because they want to be lazy assholes and not practice self-control and meanwhile everyone else pays for it. And yes it is bloat, it's not simple to add a timer because it's wasteful. Counting actions every frame or input event is dumb and adds unnecessary dirtiness to the code. I know this because I've been forced to add such things before. There's a big difference between recognizing a threshold has been passed (i.e. an objective met thing, something present in virtually all games after atari) and pestering people because you think they've been playing too long. That right there is the height of arrogance if you think that you're qualified to write code that does such a thing. What purpose would it serve anyway? World of Warcraft has quest completed alerts right? Do people stop playing for 24 hours at a time because of that?
One more thing regarding the timer: Add such a timer to a game and look at it in a debugger or profiler. Either you're using a polling based timer or a threaded one. Watch how wasteful they are and how much overhead they create. If you really think that it's not bloat then you are not a programmer. You're what we call a code monkey.