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The Psychology Behind Keeping You Hooked To Mobile Games

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Ever wonder why a mobile game can be so difficult to stop playing? Developers include psychology backed measures in their games to help ensure you play another round. The brain’s reward center can be a powerful force in the behavioral habits of mobile gamers.
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Ever wonder why a mobile game can be so difficult to stop playing? Developers include psychology backed measures in their games to help ensure you play another round. The brain’s reward center can be a powerful force in the behavioral habits of mobile gamers.

Mobile games have become immensely popular and are used to pass the time and as a fun distraction. These games range from puzzle-solving quests and action-packed shooters to pop culture trivia and mystery inspired adventures. Many of these games claim to help improve your problem-solving ability, memory, and your reflexes. However, developers insert some sneaky tricks into these games using psychology and the brain’s reward center.

What is the Reward Center?

The brain is complex, and science is only beginning to understand this amazing organ. One major component of the brain is the reward center. The reward center is comprised of a series of neurons. These neurons trigger dopamine release, which affects several parts of human behavior.

Feelings of pleasure, motivation, and attention are felt because of this reward center. Studies with rats have identified the connection between the reward center and behavior. Some tests involved rats pressing a level and then receiving a dopamine stimulation. Once scientists isolated the rat’s reward center and prevented it from activating, the rat lost interest in pressing the lever.

Mobile Games vs. the Reward Center

Have you noticed that sometimes you can’t seem to step away from a mobile game? Just one more round, and you’ll call it quits? This is your brain’s reward center at work. But how can playing a game affect your behavior?

Every mobile game has a similar structure. There is a basic puzzle, action to take, or word to find. But that activity alone wouldn’t keep you playing. So, developers began adding coins, presents, daily rewards, special prizes, and new items to unlock. Each time you engage with one of these prizes, you receive stimulation in your brain’s reward center.

This is why you are hesitant to close the game and feel this urge to go on to the next level. Your brain just received stimulation, released dopamine, and produced a pleasurable feeling. Not only do the coins and prizes make you feel good, but your attention becomes focused on the activity. The brain has evolved to help humans focus on pleasurable circumstances versus uncomfortable ones for survival reasons.

So, Are Mobile Games Bad for You?

Mobile games aren’t bad for you unless they start to interfere with your daily life. Playing games on your smartphone to pass the time is generally harmless. However, if you become addicted to the point of missing work or family events, then it becomes a problem. The point is to understand what’s going on in your brain and be aware of how mobile games use psychology to influence you.

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