Addiction and Computer Game Design


Fourth-Year Video Game Design

Class Time:

One 2-hour class

Last Modified:

Tue 19 March 2024


"Ludology" describes the study of games, including the techniques for producing games that are more fun and effective. The computer science instructor begins with an example-rich discussion of different ludology techniques, including immersion, challenge, aesthetics, and various kinds of gameplay loops, intended to teach students how to implement them in their own games. The final discussion about gameplay loops is designed to be increasingly provocative and includes descriptions of psychological principles (e.g. operant conditioning) that can be used to encourage gamers to continue playing. At that point, the philosophy instructor - in our case, planted "secretly" in the audience - asks whether these techniques are really about fun or addiction. After some dialogue, the philosophy instructor is invited to begin an interactive presentation investigating two questions. First, what is the difference, conceptually, between fun and addiction? Second, given that ludology techniques produce both fun and addiction, what limits should game designers place upon themselves in using them? The instructors conclude with a joint presentation about the complexities of dealing with ethical considerations in the workplace.

This module was developed by Steven Coyne and Steve Engels. Diane Horton and Sheila McIlraith provided feedback on this module.


Module materials coming soon.