The study in question involved rats feeding themselves by pressing a lever and encouraging them to repeat their behaviour by rewarding them at random.
Nowadays similar techniques are being used in the gaming industry such as players being randomly rewarded with extra lives or extra in-game features. These kinds of rewards form the basis of an addictive loop which works to keep gamers interested in playing.
Interactive Entertainment, the UK industry body is now calling for further research looking into the issue and are set to publish advice for parents detailing how to look out for excessive gaming traits in their children.
The BBC Panorama programme ‘Addicted to Games’ spoke to award winning computer games designer Adrian Hon, chief creative officer of SixToStart, who spoke about how the technique used on the rats back in the fifties was now commonplace in numerous computer games.
‘People have discovered that this works on humans as well. If you give people a lever or a button to press and give them random rewards, they will press it all the time’. He said.
The technique itself is actually known as the variable ratio of reinforcement and it is also thought to be one of the reasons many people become so addicted to slot machines.
As it stands addiction to computer games is not a recognised medical condition but many medical professionals such as Professor Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University’s International Gaming Research Unit has advised that more research needs to be carried out on the issue.
‘People put money into alcohol and tobacco addiction maybe even gambling addiction but in gaming addiction it’s kind of so new people don’t see it as an important research area to look into.’He said.
If you are concerned that either yourself or someone you know are suffering from an addiction to computer games and would like to talk to a counsellor in complete confidence then please visit the homepage of this site to contact a qualified professional in your local area.