Over a third (37%) of mobile gamers in the UK spend more than ten hours per week gaming on their mobile devices. These games can be highly addicting, causing some users to spend too many hours playing and causing issues in other areas of their lives.
But what is it about them that makes them so addictive? For example, Cribbage on your phone is not very different than playing Cribbage in person. Why is it that when you play the game online, you end up playing more and more games? The team at Private Rehab Clinic Delamere say mobile games are often purposefully designed by app developers to keep you playing and coming back for more through several tactics.
We’ve asked the addiction specialists to share insight into what aspects of mobile video games are the most addictive and tips on how you can combat gaming addiction.
Here are five reasons why mobile games are so addictive:
To get users hooked, mobile games usually start easy to move through the first few levels quickly. As this happens, the player’s dopamine levels are stimulated, giving them a quick burst of the pleasure hormone when they are rewarded for completing tasks.
As the levels in mobile games get more challenging, these dopamine chemicals increase as the player feels a sense of accomplishment for achieving some of the hardest levels in the game, which keeps them coming back for more.
Bright and hypnotic colours
Have you ever noticed that mobile games are filled with bubblegum colours and graphics pleasing to the eye? This is not by accident. App and game creators will purposefully include colours and images stimulating our senses.
Our brains are innately wired to be attracted to bright colours and images, and creators are very aware of this. So when you add it into the mix of a game that is already enjoyable, it’s easy to see why people find it hard to put mobile games down.
Mobile games are often designed with appointment mechanics that are added into games by designers. This means that mobile games send push notifications to your phones at certain times of the day, reinforcing the habit of playing them.
Other examples of how game creators use appointment mechanics are by incorporating daily rewards that users receive when they log in at certain times.
Another aspect of mobile games in particular that makes them so addictive is that many of them are free or advertised for free by creators. This means that users do not have to pay any money to access their favourite games.
Freemium games differ slightly whereby users have access to games for free for a certain amount of time or levels; after this period, users will have to start paying to progress further in the game and level up.
Ease of access
Mobile games are some of the most easily accessible games out there, meaning it’s very easy for users to become addicted to them.
A lot of gaming can often require players to have additional consoles or equipment to be able to play them, but with mobile games, we have access to them anytime, anywhere, and we don’t need to make any extra effort to reach them.
Tips to combat mobile gaming addiction
Create time limits
One of the easiest ways to combat addiction to mobile video games is to set time limits and alarms when you play them. Say if you have a spare 30 minutes after work before going out with friends.
Set a timer for 30 minutes and switch it off when it goes off. This means that the game still goes off no matter where you are in the game or if you have an extra 15 minutes spare.
Switch off push notifications
As mentioned above, getting notifications to remind you to play games can be one of the biggest reasons people get addicted to mobile video games.
Therefore, if you find yourself tempted to go on your game when you are trying to cut back the amount of time/hours that you spend on it, make sure to turn off any push notifications that you receive from the app so that you don’t end up back on games when you aren’t meant to be.
Deleting or locking certain apps
If you’re trying to cut back on the number of hours you spend gaming on your mobile phone, you can always try deleting the apps altogether or putting a lock on them for certain times of the day.
To do this, iPhone users can navigate to screen time, go on app limits and lock apps they find tempting for however long they want.
Track your screen time
If you are worried about how much time you spend on your phone playing mobile games, make sure to track how long each day you spend playing them.
Looking at your screen time each day or week can be a good eye-opener for those who spend too much time playing games on their phone and may even shock them into reality.
Seek professional help or therapy
If you’re worried that your mobile gaming addiction is getting out of hand, one of the best ways to combat the addiction is to seek professional help or therapy. Specialists can help someone who is addicted realise how their ideas about mobile games are distorted and what problems their addiction may be creating in their own or others’ lives.