Friday, March 26, 2010

Enjoying the game called "work"

I recently came across a very interesting article regarding the addictive qualities of video games. Specifically, it was talking about how some video game companies intentionally try to make their games as addictive as possible. The point is, they're not trying to make the games as fun as possible, but as addictive as possible. There's a big difference between those two goals.

You can read the full article here. It's well worth reading if you can spare the time.

One of the points raised in the article was how playing a video game tries to fill a void in another aspect of someone's life. For example, from the article:

"to be satisfied with your job you need three things: Autonomy (that is, you have some say in what you do day to day); Complexity (so it's not mind-numbing repetition); Connection Between Effort and Reward (i.e. you actually see the awesome results of your hard work). Most people, particularly in the young gamer demographics, don't have this in their jobs or in any aspect of their everyday lives. But the most addictive video games are specifically geared to give us all three... or at least the illusion of all three."


I find this to be true. I am currently self-employed and do freelance software development. I find lately I spend very little time playing video games (a couple hours a week) and will often instead choose to work on my own software projects in my free time. I guess the appeal of the definite connection between an effort and reward with software I can sell overrides the thrill of acquiring any virtual goods in a video game. Contrast this to when I used to work for a corporation a few years ago: the pay was great, but the job wasn't very satisfying and I would often spend many hours a week playing video games.

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