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There you have it. Games are about as addictive as eating a Big Mac

One thing you frequently hear from detractors of games is that they’re addictive, placing Diablo players on the same boat to rehab as smack junkies. But as the psychotherapist Mike Langlois proves with hard empirical evidence, this is totally blown out of proportion.  The key piece of evidence for games’ addictive qualities is dopamine, a neurotransmitter released in your brain when you do pleasurable things, like crossing the finish line in Mario Kart in first place, or, you know, smoking methamphetamine. But as Langlois’s graphs point out, all pleasurable acts aren’t created equal. Games merely double your dopamine amount, which is…

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Horror games should be intentionally un-fun, says horror game designer

Videogames are stuffed to the brim with “fun” little feedback loops, like level-maxing and crossbow upgrades and loot-a-thons. But according to Thomas Grip, author of some of the most hair-raising horror games around, such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent and the anticipated SOMA, those delicious systems just get in the way when trying to scare the bejesus out of us.  In an interesting slice of academia over at Gamasutra, Grip explains that all those game designer tricks to make games more fun will kill the scares. “The gameplay mechanic is almost sort of a side thing,” he says. I imagine…

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Rolling Stone tracks down Flappy Bird creator. Learns of his chastisement by old women

At this point, everyone knows the story of Flappy Bird. How could you not? But the question that remained is: Why? Was it nervous breakdown? Political pressure? Twitter death-threats? Severe chastisement from old women who don’t much care for videogames?  Rolling Stone has tracked down the shy, home-dwelling Vietnamese wunderkind Dong Nguyen in Hanoi to find out why he pulled the plug on the strangest gaming craze outside Twitch Plays Pokemon. And his reason is as strange as anything else associated with this game: he kept receiving complaints that Flappy Bird addiction was ruining people’s lives.  One is from a…

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This fascinating documentary goes inside China’s dreaded internet rehab camps

Do you find yourself refreshing your blog posts at traffic lights? Feel itchy and irritable when the Internet is out? Wake up in the middle of the night to change your Facebook status? That’s OK, we all do.  But keep it to yourself when in the People’s Republic, or you might wake up groggy from sleeping pills at one of China’s terrible internet rehab camps, where electrodes will be connected to your scalp and drill sergeants will forcibly reconnect you to the reality that you have lost. If you cry you’ll be allowed to write a letter to your mom. …