The Real Reason We Can’t Stop Playing
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been playing Candy Crush Saga for just one day or for the past year–after completing the very first level, you’ve had a taste of the obsession we all feel for these little chunks of digital sugar. There’s something about King’s brightly-colored grids of candy that makes Candy Crush addiction more potent than, well, actual candy. But what is it about this particular game that’s got our heads buzzing all the time? Science has the answer, as Anthony Carboni explains in a segment for Discovery News:
If you can’t access the video or were too busy making a color bomb in another window to pay attention to what Anthony was talking about, we’ll explain. The most basic way that Candy Crush addiction begins is by giving us a rush of dopamine, the chemical that our brains process in order to feel pleasure. When a lot of happy music plays and the level goes into Sugar Crush, we feel happy and accomplished. We want to replicate that feeling again–so we play another level. And another, and another, until it’s two thirty in the morning. Anthony notes in the video that by ramping up the difficulty, Candy Crush makes losing “hurt” us, but the truth is a little more complicated than that. In fact, since easy levels are placed in between particularly difficult ones, King adjusts the difficulty up and down to remind us how good winning feels right after we feel discouraged.
But that’s not really unique to Candy Crush–lots of games have some sort of risk/reward system. Basically any game that tells us we’ve done a good job after completing a level, mission, or whatever, operates on this same cycle of seeking dopamine. So Candy Crush’s “freemium” model steps in to seal the deal. King makes us want to play more to get the dopamine rush, but if we’re out of lives, we can’t play more. So we pay more than we would for a better game in order to get our “fix.” Not sweet!
How has Candy Crush addiction affected your life? Will you be making a change in your habit now that you know you’re addicted? Let us know in the comments!