Home / Substance Abuse And Addiction / Addiction to Online Gaming

Addiction to Online Gaming

Some reasons men get addicted to online gaming are the same as why women get addicted, primarily the fact that online games are designed and marketed in a way that makes them addictive. There are, however, factors in online gaming addiction peculiar to men, such as the fact that most games are competitive and males of most animal species are biologically competitive.

Online gaming can be divided into two groups: online gambling and entertainment gaming. The former is provided by online casinos and poker sites, while the latter is provided by various outlets, such as MMPORGs and Facebook. The ways these two sets of online gaming outlets promote addiction in both sexes are different.

Online gambling sites actively promote addiction by offering play money versions in which the player wins at a much higher rate than when playing for real money; by marketing promotional bonus and other free-real-money offers; and by tweaking their software so that the player fails to lose just often enough that he is encouraged to redeposit funds. These measures are necessary if the online gambling site is to make a profit because research shows that gambling establishments derive at least 65 percent of their profits from addicted gamblers.

Men are especially vulnerable to marketing from online poker sites for several reasons. First, online poker involves competition between large groups of players, taking advantage of the male competitive instinct. Second, the mathematics and analytical skills involved in playing poker appeal to the more abstraction-oriented male brain. The visual interfaces of most poker sites are designed to be stimulating to those with a tactile orientation, which men mostly are. And most poker sites offer a chat function in a group rather than one-on-one setting, taking advantage of men’s tendency to form circles of several participants when socializing. Since all of these factors feed basic male needs and suit the basic male nature, it’s easy for a man to become fixated with going back for more and more and more.

Entertainment gaming is addictive to men for similar but fundamentally different reasons. Many MMPORGs and social site adjunct games such as Facebook’s Farmville are devoted to the stimulation of greed. From time immemorial men have loved to accumulate things, and in online games a man can accumulate levels, points, virtual money, and virtual material possessions such as kingdoms. (Contrast this to female-oriented online games such as Second Life, where opportunities for such accumulation are limited.)

But more importantly, most online entertainment games that attract men involve conflict and combat, which appeal to men’s competitive nature. The requirement for good reflexes inherent in most game controls, even on a PC, make the game play a tactile experience. All of these factors cause men to get caught up in the virtual reality presented and lose track of the external world.