Media Critic Offers Analysis of Hyperaddictive Stupid Games

  • Sam Anderson of The New York Times explores the world of addictive games, the people who create them, and how “gamification” is being used in the real world.
  • The article provides an interesting overview of the popularity and evolution of gaming and what Anderson refers to as “hyperaddictive stupid games.” He also examines the current definition of “games.”
  • For example, he suggests that Zynga’s games such as “FarmVille” and “FishVille” may need to be defined as something other than games. “They are click-machines powered by the human need to achieve progress by a predictable path and a willingness to pay small amounts of money to make that progress go faster. They are not ‘games,’” wrote Nicholas Carlson of Business Insider.
  • “But you could argue that games like ‘FarmVille’ are in fact just the logical end of gamification: gamified games,” comments Anderson. “They have the appearance of games, they inspire the compulsions of games, but for many people they are not fun like games.”
  • Anderson spoke with Frank Lantz, the creator of “Drop7” (which Anderson describes as addictive). “Games, he told me, are like ‘homebrew neuroscience’ — ‘a little digital drug you can use to run experiments on your own brain.’ Part of the point of letting them seduce you, as Lantz sees it, is to come out the other side a more interesting and self-aware person; more conscious of your habits, weaknesses, desires and strengths.”
  • “It’s like heroin that is abstracted or compressed or stylized,” he said. “It gives you a window into your brain that doesn’t crush your brain.”
  • Try out the “Asteroids” game embedded on the article’s first page. You can fly across the story!

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