Risk-taking is part of human nature. It is innate, and there is nothing much we can do about it. Whether it is riding a skateboard for the first time, making an online purchase, or playing games on online platforms such as Live Casino Mr Bet, most of the activities we engage in every day involve some form of risk. All these risks are possible due to the release of dopamine.
This is a feel-good chemical that our brains release each time we eat, have sex, booze, or even play games. It is one of the reasons why we engage in activities that make us happy most of the time. However, when released more often, it can lead to addictions, such as problematic gambling.
Now, let us look further into how dopamine and other aspects of game development lead to gambling addiction.
The Science Behind Gambling Addiction
In this section, we take a quick look at the psychology of online casino games. This way, you can have a better understanding of how game developers create these thrilling and exciting games found in land-based and online casinos.
1. Pavlovian Conditioning
Ivan Pavol is a renowned and accomplished Russian physiologist popularly known for his role in developing the theory of classic conditioning. The theory suggests how it is possible to train a subject to automatically respond to a stimulus.
In Pavol’s case, he unintentionally came up with the theory while trying to understand a dog’s digestive system. While conducting his experiments, he discovered that dogs would start salivating once food was placed in front of them. With time, the dogs started associating certain sounds (their food bowls) with food and automatically started salivating before the food was presented to them.
Software developers behind the casino and online games have tapped into Pavlon’s concept. They use certain audio and visual cues to prepare players psychologically for an incoming reward. It could be a bonus round, as seen in online casino games, or a treasure, as seen in RPGs.
2. The Flow State
Flow state simply refers to a mental state where players get so deeply ingrained in the game that they lose track of time. It is a mental state where the person becomes unaware of their surroundings or even time because of being “lost” in their creative endeavor, a game, or even a physical activity.
Flow state is another common psychological tool software developers employ to design their games. Companies use different mechanics and incorporate features that create a more captivating and engaging gaming experience. This way, players will spend hours on their desktops or mobile phones completing missions and searching for prizes without knowing time has passed.
3. Gaming and Dopamine
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that also acts as a hormone. It is widely associated with rewards and pleasure, which is why it is sometimes also referred to as a “feel-good” chemical. Dopamine is always released each time you engage in something you find exciting or rewarding. This results in repeated habits.
While dopamine is normally released while engaging in activities such as exercising, eating, or during sexual intercourse, it is also released while playing games. This includes both casino and regular video games. The excitement and fun experienced while playing these games leads to the release of dopamine. Online casino games, especially, have been designed with the reward aspect and accompanying mechanics to make them more captivating. The sound effects and visuals seen in games such as slots are meant to enhance any positive interaction players have with the online slot game. This can easily lead to gambling addiction, even for players who hardly gamble often.
4. Games With a Low Learning Curve Can Lead To Gambling Addiction
A close look at online casino games, and you’ll realize those with a shallow or low learning curve are the highest levels of people suffering from gambling addiction. What this basically means is that there are games that require little or no knowledge to play them. These games include slots and roulette.
By lowering the barrier of entry, roulette, and online slots, games become easily accessible to many players. It means more people are more likely to play them, which can have severe consequences of gambling addiction when not regulated.
How a Compulsive Gambling Diagnosis Is Made
Compulsive gambling diagnosis is made using the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” abbreviated as DSM-5. According to the DSM-5, someone is an addict if they show four of the six behavioral symptoms.
- Lying about their gambling
- They turn to gambling every time they are stressed
- Gambling is affecting their work and relationships
- Having difficulties when they are trying to stop gambling
- Constantly looking forward to the next gambling session
- The need to spend more money during gambling sessions to get excited
Prevention and Help
Dealing with gambling addiction isn’t an easy task. The good news is that not all hope is for those affected. There are several ways of treating problematic gambling, including medication, self-help, step-based programs, peer support, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), counseling, or a combination of the measures listed.