Blog: When the virtual world is fairer: why more young people are addicted to gambling

(ThinkChina) – Tech scholar Yin Ruizhi examines the psychology of entering “the zone” when playing games and the comfort of being immersed in a more equal world.

Gambling is addictive and generally has a bad influence on people, especially those who are not yet adults. Many articles today highlight the serious negative effects of gambling addiction on society, but there is little discussion of why gambling is addictive.

The addictiveness of games is based on two factors. One is related to human nature, or to what is called the “flow” or “the area”. And the second is linked to the question of equity in society.

Human behavior

Zone refers to a state of full focus and concentration when we block everything out while performing a task. When this happens, you feel like there is no time. And when the task is done, you feel energized and satisfied. Very often when we do something stimulating that we love and are good at, we easily get into the zone, such as rock climbing, swimming, playing ball games, playing games, reading, playing a game. instrument and even work.

To enter the zone, the task in question must have the unique characteristic of being just at the right level for its ability. If it’s too easy, there is no challenge and we would be bored; if it is too difficult, we will give up because there is no more hope. The games are an “arena” designed on the basis of this principle. The games are adjusted to different difficulty levels, in order to match the difficulty with the ability of the player. At the same time, the games have parameters to collect various data to quantify and evaluate performance, so that players have a clear benchmark to increase their abilities, which makes it easier for them to improve.

Such settings can keep people in the area for long periods of time, and the skills of players in the game develop naturally as they spend more time there. So, gamers usually don’t hold back the time they spend playing the game which makes it look like addicting.

Societal factors

The social factors behind gambling addiction are a byproduct of the area. First of all, we need to understand what kind of society drives young people to gambling addiction. The answer is: a society with a big income disparity and a big gap between rich and poor.

According to a Newzoo report, estimated global gaming revenue in 2020 was around $ 159.3 billion, up 9.3% from the previous year. The gaming market in Europe was worth around $ 29.6 billion, or roughly 19% of global revenue, behind North America ($ 40 billion) and the Asia-Pacific region ($ 78.4 billion). The games market in China was worth around $ 43 billion.

North America has a population of less than 600 million, while Europe has nearly 800 million, and Europe’s high-income group is comparable to that of North America. North. So why is the gaming market in Europe so much smaller than that of North America, if not China? The entire European gaming market is only around 70% of the Chinese market, which has a much smaller high-income group than Europe.

A fairer society in an imaginary world

With technological improvements, the complexity and richness of today’s games have far surpassed the Tetris block era. Since the days of World of Warcraft, many games have evolved into an independent virtual world parallel to the real physical world. As issues such as high house prices, generational poverty due to high costs of education, and social stratification worsen in the real world, those virtual worlds where participants are on par with their peers become extremely attractive. This is also the fundamental reason for an easily overlooked but crucial change in the gaming industry that has taken place since 2015.

Right now, the most popular and profitable game on the planet is Honor of Kings, released in 2015 by Tencent Games. Before this historic game hit the scene, the general profit model for games was ‘pay to win’, where people paid the gaming platform to move up to higher and harder levels faster in the game. gaming. But after 2015, the top-grossing games have all operated on the “pay for passion” principle, where users don’t get stronger in gaming just because they have money; players can only become stronger by continuing to invest time in honing their skills. Profits from the game come from everyday consumer items in the virtual world, such as outfits. The virtual game world is becoming a “fair” world, and people are willing to spend on ordinary items here because they love their character and the role they play in this virtual world.

In general, gambling addiction can cause serious social problems, but the complexity of the addiction is often overlooked. Clear criticism of games and gambling addicts without real understanding of the complex social reasons behind gambling addiction is meaningless and futile.

This story was first published in Think China.

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