Diablo 3 is Psychologically Addictive Explanation

Diablo 3 is Psychologically Addictive Explanation by mjpw

Hi I have been playing Diablo for three years and I cannot get enough of it. I have retired three times only to be tempted back to it. I always finish when I end up becoming a killing machine and have nothing left to beat. I had killed all 5 ubers in eight player games by myself. I have everything etc etc.

Why is Diablo so addictive?

For two reasons, the first is that you receive constant re enforcement for your actions. This may be that killing a monster allows you to advance just that bit further etc but this is a feature of most games that are addictive. What really sets this game apart is item gathering. The chance of finding a good item and as you know this game is primarily item based.

One more Baal run could get me what I need. I nearly have the set up that I need. All I need is something that I can trade etc.

The best way to explain this behaviour is by operant conditioning a term first advanced by the behavioural psychologist Skinner. Read it all and it will make perfect sense.

Regarding rewards and behaviour he put forward four types of inducement for repetition of behaviour and he tested his theory with rats (he could have used humans but rats are cheaper)

He put a rat in a cage with a feeding mechanism. The mechanism required the rat to tap a pedal a number of times before the food came out.

On the first trial he used a sweet liquid like sugar water

He had the sugar water come out for the rat every 60 seconds. He found that the rats would press the lever in a constant state until the liquid came out. If the sugar did not come out every sixty seconds the rats would soon give up.

This is like work. You go in every day. If they did not pay you at the end of the month you would soon stop going to work.

On the second trial he had the sugar water come out for the rat when it pushed the lever 60 times, not regardless every 60 seconds. He found that the rat pressed the lever in a constant state and then after 40 lever taps the rat would increase there pushing rate which would drop back down when they received the sugar water. Again as soon as the reward stopped every 60 seconds so did the tapping.

This is the equivalent of working piece work. Whatever you produce is whatever you will be paid for.

The next two trials are where it gets very interesting.

On the third trial he had the sugar water come out on average every 60 seconds. So it might be 30 seconds the first time and then nothing for 90 seconds and so on. The clicking was steady and never dropped away.

The last trial is just Diablo by any other name.

He had the sugar water come out for the rats on average every 60 lever taps.

So they could come out at 6 seconds then 20 seconds then 90 seconds the 40 seconds.
The rat never knew when it was coming but it knew that the pushing of the lever brought the goodies.

Instead of that think of Meph runs. You know that most Meph runs are junk but every now and again you get something great or/and something worth trading.

Also as you can MF in different places areas so when you first start you do not have the equipment to Meph run in hell. You need to build up. This is the same as the rat having to get the sugar water 100 times and then you can get the super sugar water which tastes 10 times better.

Then rats just pressed and pressed without stopping and without slowing and if the sugar water stopped coming the rats would just keep pressing and pressing thinking that it must come soon.

In some of the more dubious testing it was found that when an opiate was used (crack, heroin etc) the rats would press the lever up to 10,000 times per hour without ever slowing.

In the real world the equivalent is gambling. You know you are going to win but you have no idea how many bets it will take.

This is the idea of Diablo down to a tee. If you want to know why a game that is 6 years old is so popular and why nothing matches it it is because it used known psychological techniques to keep us addicted.

If I did not explain anything well enough say so and I will explain it again.

So that’s enough from me I have that perfect HOZ to find

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2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Not really its known that video game companies use psychological techniques to keep "interest" in their games through high anxiety stimuli. Call of duty. call of duty. call of duty

  2. Rich says:

    very interesting, however I think you're giving Blizzard more credit than they're due.

    I think it's less a case that Blizzard familiarized themselves with psychology and more like they decided the make a fun game.

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