Why are some games so addictive

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why do people play silly mini games?

Why would someone waste hours of his time doing nothing but repeating the same move over and over again?
Why are some mini games extremely additive?

Most people don't have a problem understanding why fully fledged computer games with awesome graphics and complex game play are addictive. But when it comes to silly casual games with almost no graphics and very simple environments many people stand confused in the face of their addictive nature.

The first thing you need to know to unfold this mystery is that the human mind can easily be fooled. When someone targets people's unconscious minds they can easily take irrational decisions. Most of the popular mini games address the subconscious mind directly and create some kind of addiction that the conscious mind can't stop.

Why are some games so addictive

Here are some factors that can easily fool the subconscious mind and force people to get addicted to a silly mini game.

  • 1) No learning curve required: When i analyzed so many successful products i came to discover that they all shared one common thing which is simplicity. The human mind is lazy, doesn't like to do a lot of work and so the simpler the game is the more likely it is to become popular
  • 2) Hard to beat: People get bored easily that's why a simple to learn but easy to beat game is doomed to fail. The game must be easy to learn but hard to beat. This additional factor creates a frustrating challenge for people that forces them to keep playing (see also Why is Flappy birds so popular)
  • 3) Make the person believe he was about to win: People get addicted to slot machines because each time they lose they believe that they were about to win. When you create the illusion of being close to the goal a person can hardly resist trying again and again (see Why do some people get addicted to gambling)
  • 4) The illusion of being in control: Some addictive games make people think they are in control while in fact they involve a great deal of luck. This combination makes the game impossible to master but still makes the person think that he can master it

Game addiction and gambling addiction

As you can see many of the addictive games use the same concepts that a slot machine uses. The concept works because the human brain is the same and the addictive mechanisms work the same way. Just like a person can get addicted to a slot machine he can also get addicted to a mini game if the same factors that lead to addiction were present in the game.

The subconscious mind is very powerful but it's also very primitive. While you can't easily manipulate someone's conscious mind you can still achieve that goal by targeting his subconscious mind. Remember candy crush? One of the main reasons you feel good when you start playing it is that your subconscious mind recognizes the pleasant colors of the candies.

The take away is, once a game targets the subconscious mind of a person it can succeed with no budget, no graphics and no complex programming.

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