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Monday, February 9, 2015

Candy Crush and Addiction

Everybody has seen them: the colorful notifications, enticing you to join the latest Facebook game or for you to look into your heart and donate a life to one of your friends.

Candy Crush Notification: A very familiar sight

But before you roll your eyes and contemplate deleting half of your friend list, have a little sympathy and consider the neuroscience behind these vexing behaviors. 

Research has revealed chemical responses to games like Candy Crush that cause its players to become addicted. Rewarding events, such as clearing a level, release the chemical dopamine in the brain and make players happy. However, the more often you receive dopamine, the less happy players will feel from it, in a phenomenon called the hedonistic adaptation.

Structure of Dopamine 

The mechanics of games like Candy Crush ensure that players never get dopamine too often. After a certain amount of losses, players get timed out of playing. Additionally, the beginning levels are easy to complete, releasing dopamine often and compelling players to keep going. But as the game progresses, the difficulty increases, and more time elapses before players are able to clear the level. Both of these factors force players to wait for their next dopamine hit, making it that much more rewarding when they do get it and compelling players to keep going.

While Candy Crush addiction might not be as destructive as other types, it feels creepy. What seems like a simple, colorful game, seems to be harboring  darker intentions. But what do you think? Are these tactics deceptive? Or a fair way to keep players engaged?

Written by Jenna M, Homework Assisstant

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