Why MMO Shooters Are So Addictive?
Several studies have been made regarding as to why people or gamers in general get addicted to multiplayer-online first person shooter games. Whether from a Pathological or Psychological viewpoint, there are certain factors that contribute to, or cause outright addiction. Concepts like intermittent reinforcement, psychological identification with the game character and the effects of dopamine levels have been attributed as causes of this. We however will leave this to the shrinks and focus on the most relevant causes of multi-player FPS game addiction from a gamer’s point of view.
First person shooters started gaining popularity in the early to mid1990’s with games like Doom, Castle Wolfenstein and Quake. This were single player shooters with game worlds populated by both enemies and (NPC’s) non-player characters the gamer had to interact with. Mostly mission based, the gamer or main character had to complete certain tasks like rescuing certain NPC’s, eliminating all enemies and reaching the games ultimate objective. These elements which comprised the game’s storyline were enough to keep a gamer glued up to the very end. Rewards would come in the form of achievement screenshots or animated cut-scenes that fulfilled the gamer’s desire for an accomplished job well done. At this point, a gamer was hooked.
With the emergence of LAN computer shops and LAN gaming in general, multi-player FPS was born. A game well noted for this was Quake and its successive mod called Team Fortress, known today as the predecessor of Team Fortress Classic and Team Fortress 2. An extra element was now added to FPS gaming that wasn’t there before, playing side by side with another person. Most of the players who patronize this LAN shops go there with their friends to play. Playing as a team, they meet and compete with other groups who most of the time also end up as their friends. The competitive atmosphere coupled with tactical teamplay and camaraderie among the player groups gave a player a certain sense of belonging, a proving of one’s self and the fulfillment of winning. They were hooked.
By the time the Counter-Strike beta versions were released online, multi-player FPS LAN gaming became so popular that it prompted game developers to acknowledge and support this kind of gaming. Additional contents and mods were created by the gaming communities themselves which led to new games or variations of certain games. Players started to play their favorite FPS games on the internet thus forming on-line gaming communities, clans, teams as well as organized matches. Most of the formal matches though were still held in LAN shops and certain organized venues. The dawn of E-sports had begun.
Moving from LAN-based to On-line based had an exponential expansion effect on the multi-player gaming industry. By the mid 2000’s, the MMO and MOBA scenes had gone global, contributing to the rise of international LAN and On-Line gaming competitions. Cash and other prices were involved causing players to double their efforts. On-Line battlegrounds had gained so much accessibility and popularity among players who were now definitely addicted as they had to log-in at specific times of the day to meet their team-mates on-line and win the game. The need to team-win was a compulsion that kept them in front of the computer for long periods of time.
Being aware of all this, the gaming industry and communities continued their support or should we say continued feeding the addiction of gamers. New and additional content played a big role when it came to this. An example would be the mods of Counterstrike which extended the life of the game as well as attract new players into the fold. Counter-Strike Nexon: Zombies is one of this. The game derived from CS1.6 uses the default maps but adds new things like weapon variations and new player skins. The game modes (Ex. defuse the bomb, rescue hostages etc.) have been modified as well. Instead of the usual deathmatch gameplay, Counter-Strike Nexon: Zombies even pits humans against, obviously, zombies.
Team Fortress has also come a long way with the release of Team Fortress 2. The graphics were greatly revamped as the game was moved to the newer Source Engine. Again, the game elements play a big role in getting the players addicted. Factors that include competition, teamwork, reflex skills, combat tactics and again, new content like skins, modes and additional story lines have kept the gamers going.
One last addictive FPS game worth mentioning is Special Force which was released online for the Asian gaming market. Special Force and its predecessor Skill: Special Force 2 plays a lot like Counter-Strike with added game modes and features. An example would be player character customization and the addition of female player characters in SF2 which provides variety in the game. The black and red Mamba female agents have since gained popularity that DragonFly has added more female characters to the mix.
To sum it all up, MMO shooters, in general, are addictive because they are made to be that way. They are designed and developed to catch your attention and once gained, hold it real tight that you end up going back to it again and again just to experience the exhilarating gameplay, to get a glimpse of awesomeness when you've managed to take down a player who is on a killing rampage, and the thrill of winning or completing the objective with a sufficiently competent team. Although not all games will be able to have that sort of hold over you even if you absolutely love the shooter genre, some games, however, are simply better than others at keeping you hooked.