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  • Erez Baron

Real excitement in a virtual environment

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Let’s talk about Dopamine.

Dopamine is a material manufactured in the brain that is being released when physical needs are met. For example, when we drink, eat, have sex, etc. When released, Dopamine can cause what we perceive as pleasure.

We eat, Dopamine is released and we experience Pleasure. The brain remembers this sequence of events (“the teaching signal”[i]), and when encountered with a situation in which food is imminent, levels of dopamine can rise without the food itself. This fact has a profound effect on how we perceive the world; it means that our brain responds to events that had not actually happened. If that is the case, pleasure can be “faked” and boundaries between what is real and what is virtual, get quashed.

Once dopamine levels rise, it increases the chances of impulsive behavior. The ability to create impulsive behavior in another person gives power over his or her mind. Being impulsive means, our ordinary set of principles we go by does not apply. The way we make decisions changes, and we are no longer ourselves.

If we are not the ones making the decisions, who does?

With this knowledge, the advertising industry flourished. It now knows how to cause your body to release Dopamine at will. For example, car commercials often go hand in hand with beautiful models. The male brain makes a connection between these models and sex. The anticipation for sex triggers Dopamine release which causes pleasure and now, there is a long-lasting bond between cars and pleasure.


Let’s talk about porn.

A recent study conducted by the “Max Planck Institute” in Berlin found that the part of the brain that rewards us with Dopamine release is smaller at adults who are exposed to more Pornography than others. This, in turn, causes the threshold for Dopamine release to increase and causes these adults to look for harsher Pornography in order to keep the same satisfaction. In the gaming industry, we refer to this Mechanism as “Progression”.

The field that measures, designs, and balances a person's Progression within a game is called “Game Economy”.


A good Game Economist will master the Progression mechanism to the game’s advantage by triggering Dopamine release at given intervals, in order to keep our impulsive behavior going for as long as possible. This is usually done by measuring users' satisfaction and boosting it when it hit a certain bottom.

There are many ways to keep you hooked to games and lock your mind in a virtual world. There are also ways to avoid these mental shackles. To discover more about how it is actually done, click "Sign up" at the top of the page and follow new posts to come.

Cheers!


[i] Chakravarthy VS, Joseph D, Bapi RS (2010). "What do the basal ganglia do? A modeling perspective"(PDF). Biological Cybernetics103 (3): 237–53. PMID 20644953doi:10.1007/s00422-010-0401-y. Retrieved 24 September 2015.

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