We’re all still kids at heart, and if you ever played Tetris in the 90s you’ll know how addictive games can be. Now that we each have a smartphone to our name, we get an excuse to become a kid again—and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone without at least a few games downloaded. There are many reasons we all love to waste hours playing these games. You might be bored waiting for the laundry to dry, or you might need a brief escape from reality. Whatever the reason, there are dozens of games on the market that have taken us by storm, caused relationship breakdowns, and bankrupted us—yet we still want to continue playing.
So, what makes these games so addictive? And if you were looking for a new game to delve into, how would you choose?
The Social Player
If you don’t mind a solitary game like Tetris then a social aspect of a game won’t matter to you, but for those gamers searching for a community of players the World of Warcraft (aka one of the most profitable games ever made) could suit you.The key to the game's charm is that it suits every kind of player, and despite the anti-social reputation of a gamer, World of Warcraft actually encourages alliances with other players and many surprising friendships are made through the game. You’re constantly working towards achieving a certain goal and when you achieve it– you’ll get rewarded. This acts as an instant hook.
The game was released in 2004 and is the fourth-released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe. The game is a character-filled fantasy universe where you work your way up levels by completing quests, and exploring different areas. What makes this game really addictive is that you can reinvent yourself – players pick a character, including race and class, for instance race can be human, gnome, elf etc and race could be priest, warrior, hunter etc.
Another social game League of Legends is already one of the world’s most popular games, with over 100 million active users each month. Released in 2009, the game is played in teams of 5 players, on one map. The core basics of the game are simple; each team has a base they must guard from their opponents while simultaneously attacking their opponent’s base. However, from here on out, this free to download game has some surprisingly complicated rules which players will have to learn first before going any further. There are a bunch of different characters to play, and the addictive quality here for players is competitive winning. There’s also the fact that you put time and effort into learning a game, which causes psychological attachment. Whatever the reason, it’s working and the game has made the top 10 list of most addictive games of all time.
If you’re looking for a game with elements of teamwork and want to feel a part of something, there’s Dota 2. This game is played in matches between 2 teams of 5 players, with each team occupying and defending their own separate base on the map. Each of the 10 players independently controls a powerful character, known as a "hero," who have unique abilities and differing styles of play. The addictive quality of the game is of course related to the competitive aspect of winning, as losing makes you want to play again. The game also offers small enough rewards to keep you interested.
User Interface and Special Effects
If you’re attracted to realistic graphics and user interface, check out the notorious Grand Theft Auto V. The action-adventure game was first released in 2013 and is the most recent game in the Grand Theft Auto series. Most games in the series are set in fictional locales modelled on cities. It sucks you in with its incredibly visual experience of the game and the ability to chose your own storyline, almost like a Hollywood adventure film with an award-winning soundtrack to match. Players can literally jump into an ever-expanding world, and escape daily frustrations while enjoying the challenge of strategic gameplay. The game hasn’t come without it’s controversy due to its violent nature, as players can pull off missions like auto theft (naturally), arms trafficking and ATM robberies in a frighteningly realistic landscape.
Another one with incredible special effects is Call of Duty, a military game set in World War 2. With Hollywood style special effects this game is eerily realistic. This classic console video game was released in 2003, and is one of the most successful franchises of all time.The addictive quality here is somewhat controversial as the game is essentially violent with players attempting to shoot the ‘enemy’ either alone or in groups. Similar to other addictive games, Call of Duty hands out rewards to players, giving you little boosts of serotonin that eventually get you hooked. Some people enjoy the satisfaction of shooting and winning, while others enjoy the challenge of unlocking levels and beating your best score. Whichever it is, the franchise has since released 9 core games in the series.
If you don’t want to invest in a console and the accompanying games, there are plenty of addictive and free to download games that will suit you. The surprise success Candy Crush was released in 2012 and has since generated billions of dollars. This easy-to-learn game can be downloaded on your smartphone for free. It’s uses a grid of tiles in various colors and shapes. Players swap those tiles to make matching stripes of three (or more) tiles, which then satisfyingly disappear. The game becomes harder to clear as the levels increase. So what makes it so addictive? Candy Crush lures gamers in with small victories which provide instant positive feedback. According to the experts, this positive feedback is essential for getting players hooked, and here’s the proof. Candy Crush allows you to buy in-house purchases as you try to reach new levels, and the game generates a colossal $875,382 daily. So if you want a completely free game, make sure you don’t fall for the extra purchases.
Another free to download game Angry Birds, was first released in 2009 by Rovio Entertainment. The game can by downloaded on any smartphone, and by 2011 had been downloaded over 200 million times. The instant cult-classic became a hit with kids and adults alike, both attracted by the colorful and cute animation of angry birds. The game involves launching angry wingless birds at little piggies and building blocks in the process. And how did everyone get so addicted? The simple-yet-engaging model means literally anybody can play it without instructions—kids and grandparents alike can figure out the rules. Experts in the field comment on our natural human curiosity that demands to know what will happen when you fire the bird, and because the game is so simple it gives you the perfect instant gratification you’re looking for.
Although not completely free, Tetris makes the list for being the most annoyingly addictive game ever made. Nintendo’s Game Boy was revolutionary in it’s time, mostly because it was hand-held so you weren’t forced to be constantly connected to your computer. The Game Boy was sold with one game, Tetris, a simple but addictive puzzle game where you had to rotate falling blocks to build a wall. The game went on to sell 70 million copies and the rest is history. There have been many psychological theories delving into why this particular game is so addictive, such as the natural desire to create order out of chaos. The game is impossible to win and you’re only playing yourself but it still remains one of the most addictive games of all time and has led the way for similar 21st century games we’ve all grown to love… and hate. You can still play Tetris on the original gameboy or directly online for free.
If you’re someone who loves exploring in your game you should check out Minecraft. Created in 2009, Minecraft has since become fiercely popular for kids and adults alike. The game is based on the player digging and building different kinds of 3D blocks within a large world of varying terrains and habitats to explore. Some players like to compare the game with a Lego World due to the block-like visuals. Each player starts the game with nothing and from there, what you decide to do with the game is up to you. The game gives you the feeling of being an explorer where you can wander through castles, mountains, valleys and essentially create your own world- escaping your own mundane life through Minecraft is what gets people hooked. This game appeals to those with an active imagination and creative spirit, because there’s not really a conventional end to the game—although you do of course need to keep yourself alive.
Another game that will satisfy your search for exploring is EverQuest. Released around 15 years ago the game immediately garnered attention for having players instantly addicted. This 3D fantasy-themed multiplayer online role-playing game has been known to destroy people's home and work life due to the addictive nature of the game. In EverQuest, players create a character (also known as an avatar) by selecting one of 16 races in the game, which range from humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, trolls, and ogres, to cat-people. Players can also select each character's adventuring occupation (such as a wizard, ranger, or cleric). Part of the appeal of the game is that each player can customize their character's appearance. A little overweight in real life? Not to worry, you can create a dashing hero in EverQuest. It’s the ultimate in vicarious living and addicted players might chose to stay in their EverQuest over the real one.
There's most likely a bunch of different factors involved before any gamer decides to download or buy one game. Just make sure you’re fully informed about each so you don’t run into any surprises at the end of the month, like a big bill or realize you’ve been sitting in your parents basement for 48 hours!