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My world is basically the same as our own but with slightly more advanced cybernetics and virtual technology. Specifically, they have a technology to create true matrix level virtual worlds. The most popular of which is based on a fantasy RPG. Users connect their minds to the virtual reality and choose different classes for their avatars in this virtual world. As they play, they can unlock new skills, abilities, and ability levels. However, as amazing as this game is, it comes with side effects.

Since the game is so real you can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from your gaming experience. You also feel the pain as if it were real. And most frightening of all is that the more you play, the higher is a risk of a coma or even a complete brain death, should your avatar experience death in the game. The chances of death in the game resulting in actual death increase with the time spent playing the game.

Yet despite this, over 1/3 of the world population spends one day a week playing the game. 1/5 of the population spends 3 days a week playing.

Assuming that these gamers are relatively sane why would they keep playing even knowing the risks?

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People could be so board with reality that they don't mind the risk of death and it is something they look forward to. Instead of turning to drugs they turn to this video game.

Think of it like the people are so smart their minds need stimulation and turn to a video game that could possibly kill them.

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Welcome to the psychology of "Freemium" games where people are motivated to spend 100s or 1000s \$/€ for games for which you would normally pay 10 \$/€ maximum.

  • Easy and risk-free entry: you can try easy with a mouse-click and with no risk
  • it is some sort of interesting/fun/... to keep you playing (big use of motivation psychology)
  • group pressure to keep you playing (hi John, we need you this evening to defeat this monster or we will loose/hi John, where have you been yesterday. We lost against this monster because you were missing)
  • the increase in risk comes in little doses and with rewards and "it's just a one-time-exception" ("just 5 more minutes than the safe limit to help Lily finish this monster or all her effort this week would have been useless")
  • the barrier to take the risk decreases dramatically after the first time and nothing has happened ("I will help Mike just this one more time")
  • just 5 more minutes or I will loose {something valuable}

Just to point out the most important points. And don't forget the adrenalin junkies that like hight risk/high gain.

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Pervasive cheating

There are cheats for any game if it's popular enough. There's a cheat for this game that purports to either remove the "die and you're dead" effect or just prevent you from dying ingame.

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