Myths of Evolution (4): The Selfish Gene

Why You Play Games

Over on the ihobo site today, a post explaining why people enjoy videogames. Here's an extract:

Whatever reason you enjoy playing videogames, there is one specific part of the brain that lies behind it.

For some time, game designers have known how to apply the work of the behaviourist B.F. Skinner to videogame design, creating reward schedules (such as levelling mechanics in computer RPGs) that will hook players in and keep them addicted while they play, or setting up short and medium term challenges to overcome in order to produce the same kind of pattern. These reward schedules work because when we win or attain something, the pleasure centre in the brain (the nuclues accumbens) releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is chemically similar to cocaine.

But recent research into cognitive functions using functional magnetic resonance imagine has shown that these are not the only ways to trip the pleasure centre – and in fact, it's starting to look suspiciously as if whichever aspect of videogames you enjoy, the pleasure centre lies behind your enjoyment.

This represents the final results of the DGD2 study, which is now essentially concluded. My thanks to everyone who was involved in the surveys and case studies!