Targeting personalities for games - The psychology of gaming

As I sit here today enjoying my muffin and coffee, I drifted into a set of ponderings as I often do (I mean come on…my blog is named work avoidance strategies). Some relevant, some not. As I sat there and random ideas, questions, and general day-dreams went through my head, I started wondering…is gaming to the point of BIG BUSINESS. I don’t mean to compare it to say Big Oil or anything of that matter, but has gaming got to the point where they use the psychological traits of person to MAKE them want to play?

I guess my line of thinking was this. Coca Cola, Mc Donalds, Car Manufacturers and other such companies have, for years, used things in their commercials and in their marketing to “suck in” people with certain personality traits. They use psychology to pre-determine the type of person most likely to make that “impulse buy” or go for that one extra. My question is “Are gaming companies doing something similar.” Especially in the MMO genre, you hear again and again of “getting hooked” or comparing gaming to addiction. People give the games nicknames of “World of Warcrack” and “Evercrack”; comparing the game to an addictive drug. You hear of marriages being broken up and friendships being lost over a game. There is the whole other line of discussion concerning self-control but lets pass over that for now and touch on it later. The root of my discussion here is “are these companies using psychological and personality traits to get people ‘hooked’?”

I go back to several articles I have read (I will link them shortly if I can find them again) of game companies using psychologists to best determine what will hook that “hardcore” player. What will keep bringing the back again and again? Whether it is MMO’s, console games, or even hand-held games, there will always be the person who goes overboard; the person who takes it to extremes, but are these companies intentionally targeting these type of people? Are they purposely bringing them to get hooked and keep coming back for more?

What do you think?
NewBreed

 

9 comments:

Dav said... May 31, 2007 at 5:11 AM  

Yeah I agree with you on that one, I'll give an example, my paladin mount, took me ages to get hold of, but personality-wise, I hate leaving a task uncompleted, and so my personality wouldn't let me be until that particular task (namely getting the epic pala mount) was done. It took an age to get hold of, with the quests being very dragged out and all over the map, yet I wouldnt leave it be because it would mean leaving a task unfinished, and so I played for ages until it was completed, then the next task came along, and so forth...

So from that, yeah, I do agree with you on that one, I think that the mmo industry structures their games to play on the personality traits of their players to keep them playing just that *little bit* longer...

Interesting post though, well done!

Dav

Abel said... May 31, 2007 at 5:30 PM  

I think with TBC we are learning a whole new lesson about psychology of game design. In the past it was about hooking a small fraction of the 8.5 million that made WoW peak subscriptions.

The philosophy that brought people back to obsess over Diablo II or Warcraft III for years seems very different to this. There indeed you'd try to hook a core base. But really, how many of the 8.5 million fit that personality profile and why should we expect to be retainable by a model that was never fitted for them?

Sean said... June 3, 2007 at 4:47 PM  

I agree that every major company in the world with hopes of making it big and having faithful and returning customers do hire expensive psychologists to help market their products. I mean it only makes sense to me. If I were a CEO of a billion-dollar company and thousands of employees relied upon decisions I made I would try my hardest to use every known resource I could to push my product out there onto the masses via commercials or whatever. Games are no different, just another form of media, which by the looks of it have become the focus of major attention by "Big Business". The youth today spend their parents money on what they like, and what they like are things are fun to play...so find out what is fun, then you got the golden key...just my opinion of course...take it for what it's worth.

John said... January 18, 2009 at 4:49 AM  

I think what leads players to addiction to MMOs are general issues with their outside life. Much like fast food or alcohol, the addiction is just a symptom and a mask of another issue. I personally can't stand playing MMOs but I get a weird kick botting them.

Fast food companies definitely go into psychology when doing their marketing and designing their food. I doubt MMO companies go that far. They don't need to, other than providing never ending content.

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