I recently went hunting online for a new game to play on my mobile device. I noticed in the reviews that one of the buzzwords from all the people using the apps seemed to be “addictive.” Not only was the word used in a positive sense, but it seemed to be used as a benchmark: Yes! Five stars! This game is addictive! Don’t worry, this game is properly addictive! If you’re looking for an addictive gaming experience, look no further!
Now, last I checked, generally addictions were considered a bad thing. If not harmful, then at least equitable with a bad habit, or something one should probably cut back. When did this change? Especially when you consider it’s on a mobile device: something we know to be hard core marketing for you to buy more products, and more unashamedly advertising in-app purchases: e.g. offering you opportunities to purchase fake fuel for your virtual car so you can keep racing! And if you want to top the leader boards, you can believe you won’t make it by playing the free versions!
Addiction as a benchmark for a virtual experience that draws you away from real life, and deeper into a money spending exercise seems like a dangerous trend. Akin to smoking and gambling at the same time, this inauspicious little spore of a concept has crept into our society. How long before we have complete mold infestation?
To combine doomsday threats, how long until AIs are spouting out algorithms to addictive money spending activities until we are personally funding the Skynet apocalypse?
I think we should leave addiction where it is: in the bad habit category (best case scenario). Playing an amusing game while stuck on the train in commuter traffic is not harming anyone. But missing out of life and burning perpetual cash on tantalizing virtual thrills is a trend that will surely only lead to ultimate dissatisfaction. With depression and anxiety on the rise already in mobile device-using teens, I think we need to re-educate our language, and remember addictions are meant to be kicked, not lauded.