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9:21am on Friday, 10th December, 2010:

Variable Ratio Reinforcement and Operant Conditioning


Let's suppose that MMORPGs really were addictive, and that this addiction really was caused by their ample use of the psychological technique of variable ratio reinforcement leading to operant conditioning.

Well, if that were what caused addiction, why would MMORPGs have to be online? Blizzard could bring out a single-player version of World of Warcraft and people would get addicted to it just like they do the online version.

Except, of course, they wouldn't. Ask any player of WoW whetehr they would play it for 2-4 hours every evening, day in, day out, and the prospect would probably be met with horror.

Therefore, whatever it is that keeps people playing MMOs, it's not operant conditioning. Therefore, their playing habits are not reflective of a form of addiction caused by operant conditioning.

No, I didn't watch this week's Panorama on "game addiction". They obviously didn't read my book, so that makes us even.

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).