Long ago it was an accident that addiction could be capitalized on. People might become addicted to alcohol, and the sellers of alcohol would simply enjoy the profits from those who had no choice but to buy.
Today, addiction is manufactured. In fact, it’s unlikely that you’ll get through the day without interacting with something that has been altered in order to make it more addictive to you or someone in your life. There’s someone behind the scenes calculating the best way to get you to come back again and again, all to their profit.
Here at Sexual Addiction Treatment Services, we usually focus on pornography addiction and other forms of sexual addiction. Today we’re going to take a look at some other types of addiction and how the companies behind them are trying to get you to constantly engage.
You may think video game addiction only affects those who play World of Warcraft from the moment they get home until the moment they go to bed. While they might indeed be addicted, even casual gamers can become addicted. We’re talking about phone and tablet games, free games with in-game ads (“freemium games”) that dole out how much you can play in exchange for the ads you watch. They’ll usually give you just enough to get you started and then force you to pay, watch ads, or wait a certain amount of time until you can play again. And if you’ve ever been staring at the game on your phone just waiting for those hearts to refresh, you probably recognize the feeling they’re wanting you to feel.
Behind the scenes, game companies are employing psychologists to make games more addictive. They’ll ask questions such as “how long do you wait to reward them without making it so long that they lose interest?” and “how powerful can we make their character before they like it so much that they’re willing to pay for upgrades?”
Sugar. Salt. Fat. Manipulate these three ingredients and you can make most of humanity eat whatever you want them to eat. (Michael Moss wrote a book on the subject that’s a very enlightening read.) All three of these ingredients work as a cheat code on the human brain, causing it to send out chemicals that say “eat more.”
Nearly every new food product that hits the market takes these into account, even if they’re labeled as healthy. If a product is advertised as low-fat, they’ll up the calorie content. If it’s labeled “only one gram of sugar,” the fat-content usually goes through the roof. And if both of those are cut out, adding salt will often make up for reduced calorie intake. When you balance sugar, salt, fat, and mouthfeel (the way in which something crunches or chews) just right, you’ll have a hit bag of chips on your hands.
We’ve all heard of gambling addictions, but most people don’t stop to think about how games are designed to be as addictive as possible. Slot machines are designed not to give truly random results; they will often give you something that’s just close enough to get you to keep playing. And if you’ve never played slots, let’s take a look at something that most of us have played: scratch-off lottery tickets. If a ticket takes three cherries to win, most of them will be “cherry cherry orange” or “cherry cherry apple.” This “oh, I was so close” feeling is intentionally designed to make people feel that they got closer to winning than they actually did, encouraging them to pursue their luck and buy more tickets.
When dealing with any addiction, whether it’s video games or overeating, it’s important to keep in mind that companies are literally trying to hack your brain and don’t care how much time you lose or weight you gain…as long as they make money. So if you have a pornography addiction, understand that you’ve been manipulated in order for someone to make money, and that seeking help for you addiction is an excellent first step. Read more about Sexual Addiction Treatment Services and then contact us for help.