The title of the article can cause a smirk in many. Like, completely crazy with their conspiracy theories. But the gaming industry is not as simple as it might seem. It is part of the global mass media, which, like the major media, is carefully controlled. But let’s not be unfounded and better on examples we will analyze how this happens.
Some relevant statistics
According to the Global Games Market Report 2020 from Newzoo, the gaming industry will continue to grow until at least 2023. By the end of this year, the number of players will reach 2.6 billion people, and by 2023 it will exceed 3 billion.
Last year was the most profitable for the gaming industry in history. Profit amounted to $148.8 billion, up 7.2% compared to 2018. For example, the entire film industry earned only about $100 billion that year.
We figured out the numbers, now let’s see why so many people – a third of the world’s population – are fond of games. What psychological tricks do game designers use to keep you on the screen?
American psychologist Burres Frederick Skinner in his research proved that human behavior can be controlled with the help of simple incentives and a reward system. He created a cage, later called the Skinner chamber, in which he placed a rat. By pressing the button, the rodent receives food, “enjoys life”, and then its further behavior is easily “programmed”. So do the developers, turning gamers into guinea pigs. Simplified it looks like this:
Action is the reward. The player performs the same actions, receiving rewards at carefully thought-out time intervals. This is the quintessential Skinner camera. Multiplayer games are especially guilty of this.
Virtual feed. When receiving new items (armor, tanks, etc.), the human mind perceives them as real and enjoys no less than from a tangible thing.
“Variable Timing Reward”. Random drops of rewards cause a strong gaming addiction (the “one-armed bandits” also operate on this principle). It is difficult for a gamer to break away from the game knowing that “a unique legendary item is about to fall out.”
Gradually slow progress. With each new level, pumping becomes more and more difficult. And the gamer gets even more pleasure from the complexity and overcoming it.
Exit fees. For the exit or absence in the game, the user loses earned points and other benefits. If you enter the game irregularly, then serious progress will not be achieved.
Cozy mental environment. Games are an easy and effective way to have fun, using the formula “independence-complexity-relationship between effort and result.” For those gamers who do not have a personal life (work, relationships, communication, real achievements), games become a surrogate for what a person lacks so much. This is where the Skinner’s camera slams shut, turning the gamer into a hamster spinning the wheel endlessly for bits of virtual food.
Psychological tricks that game creators use
competitive effect. People love to compare themselves to others and strive to be the best. This is true for both traditional sports and video games.
Free to play. Free games with many in-game purchases and microtransactions are a resounding success. The same notorious “cheese in a mousetrap” beckons a person. After all, buying a full-fledged game once is often cheaper than buying F2P and spending much more.
Zeigarnik effect. People get anxious when they have a lot of unfinished tasks, especially those that are close to completion. The developers skillfully use this, throwing all new “tasks” into the diary or task journal.
“The effect of the started business”. The closer we are to the completion of a task, the stronger the mental stress expended on the completion of this task. Therefore, developers like to “shower” new players with tinsel of various initial bonuses, in the form of cases with weapons, initial gold, etc., giving the gamer a strong start.
Achievements. Various kinds of achievements (medals, titles and other “glitters”) also motivate the gamer to spend time in the game and brag about them in front of other players. In reality, though, they are useless.
MMO – worlds that replace reality
In 1997, Ultima Online made a successful shot at the disparate gaming community. She was not a pioneer of the genre, but she became its bright star in one year, bringing together 100,000 players under her wing. A huge detailed world, almost unlimited freedom of action, nice graphics (compared to text-based MMOs of past years) and the ability to interact with the same live players (and not stupid AI) and tens of thousands of people moved into the virtual world. Not for good, of course, but many new entertainment sucked to the very ears.
On the crest of the wave raised by the success of UO, in the future were Lineage II and the king of the hill – World of Warcraft. At its peak, WoW had up to 12 million concurrent players and over 100 million subscriptions to the game.
PC game expansion World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
When fantasy got fed up, the World of Tanks heavyweight entered the arena. Yes, the peak of game activity was in 2015, nevertheless, the number of subscriptions exceeded 160 million, making WoT the undisputed leader among multiplayer games (probably everyone heard about the stories when adult bearded guys spent half their salary on new tanks).
And the well-known online multiplayer game PUBG Mobile has been downloaded by 734 million users since its release (about 2.5 years ago). And by 2020 alone, it has brought developers a profit of $1.3 billion.
Gamepad Microsoft Xbox ONE PUBG LE black + yes
This is how manipulators use the peculiarities of the human psyche to hook as many people as possible into the game. Now let’s go through eSports.
eSports to the masses
And again statistics and forecasts from Newzoo :
This year, the esports market will reach a new milestone with $1.1 billion in revenue, up $150 million from last year (+15.7%). The main income is sponsorship, in second place is the rights to hold championships and broadcast them. Streaming revenues will grow significantly (+33%), although in general the numbers here are very modest (18.2 million).
The total number of players is a little short of half a billion and will amount to 495 million people, of which 272.2 million are enthusiasts and viewers.
According to forecasts, by 2023 the total number of eSports fans will increase to 646 million people due to the influx of gamers from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.
Moreover, “mobile” esports is becoming more and more popular, thanks to the availability of cheap smartphones for the majority of the population. Especially for users of low-end devices, “light” versions of e-sports games (for example, PUBG Lite) will be released, which will increase revenues from mobile gaming to $ 76 billion.
More examples of how video games affect this world
Divorces due to games
In the UK, a study was conducted, as a result of which it turned out that 5% of marriages in the country break up precisely because of gambling addiction. The leader in the number of divorces was the game Fortnite. There have been no major worldwide studies on this, but it can be assumed that due to the growing popularity of video games, the number of divorces for this reason will increase everywhere.
PC game Fortnite
Digital objects in games for which people pay real money do not appear in Russian laws. Therefore, stealing them is not considered a crime, and the maximum that law enforcement officers can do is to attract an attacker under the article of the Criminal Code, which punishes for illegal access to computer information for selfish reasons (there was a precedent in the Moscow region, the thief was sentenced to 1.2 years).
But in Ukraine, the situation is different. In October 2019, an attacker stole a WoT user account and resold it. The thief earned only 200 rubles, and as a result of the trial, he was fined 30 thousand rubles plus 18 thousand court costs, and the system unit was also confiscated.
Игра World of Tanks (Xbox 360)
Great crime drop
For the last 25 years, this phenomenon has occupied the minds of researchers. Scientists cite dozens of hypotheses, but none of them is recognized as the official reason for the decrease in crime. And among these hypotheses there are no video games. However, there are statistics that show that there is no connection between the release of violent computer games and surges in violent crime. Conversely, the researchers note that the release of certain games reduces crime (with the exception of murders). What does it say?
The fact that violent games allow you to throw out aggression in the virtual world, making the gamer more calm in reality. The proof is Japan, where most of the population (even grandmothers) are gamers, and the crime rate is one of the lowest in the world.
Game Grand Theft Auto V (PK)
In fairness, we add that not only games, but also any pastime for the PC contribute to the reduction of crime. In particular, the passion for social networks.
Video games, fortunately or unfortunately, are increasingly drawing humanity into the virtual world. Even now, when most gamers play on PC or consoles, the line between reality and game is very thin, and in some hypertrophied cases it is completely blurred. When VR technologies in gaming make a qualitative leap and become available to the majority, the world will change even more. Let’s hope this new leap makes life easier and better for the majority, rather than turning us into soulless avatars of a global gaming network run by invisible puppeteers. In the end, it will depend only on you and me.