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What Makes Games So Addictive?

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 p