Wednesday, August 8

Internet Addiction: How Software Developers Strive to Make "Compulsion Loops"

Following-up my previous post on internet addiction: Last month, The Atlantic had an interesting commentary by Bill Davidow on this topic.
"In the 1990s, concern over obsessive-compulsive behavior associated with computer games and the Internet began to grow. Until roughly 2000, compulsive behavior remained a side effect -- not an intentional element of game design and other Internet applications. Application providers were simply supplying customers with services that made their products more appealing.
"But before long, people were referring to their BlackBerries as CrackBerries, and parents were beginning to worry about the number of hours their kids spent on video games. We now believe that the compulsion to continually check email, stock prices, and sporting scores on smartphones is driven in some cases by dopamine releases that occur in anticipation of receiving good news. ...
"Internet gaming companies now openly discuss compulsion loops that directly result in obsessions, and the goal of other applications is the same: to create the compulsion to gather thousands of friends on Facebook, thousands of followers on Twitter, or be pleasantly surprised to discover from Foursquare that a friend you haven't seen for years is nearby." [Emphasis mine.]
Exploiting the Neuroscience of Internet Addiction (The Atlantic)