No, not a drug addict. A video game addict.
While the former may seem more serious than the other, these two addictions should be considered equally troublesome.
Candy Crush is a free-to-play mobile game where players match three or more sets of colored candy on a gameboard.
By 2018, approximately 1.1 trillion rounds of Candy Crush had been played, the games had been downloaded 2.73 billion times, and 71,458 miles had been traveled while playing the games (1). Those are some startling statistics.
The franchise, which consists of three variants of the game (all with the same mechanics but different themes and skins) has secured its place in the top ten grossing apps—30% of the world’s top ten app users play candy crush. What is behind its success?
This game is addictive. The mobile game has been designed to keep its player’s hooked. The designers of the game have made use of a compulsion loop. A compulsion loop is a psychological tactic used by video game designers to ensnare players by establishing a habitual pattern. Compulsion loops can come in different shapes and sizes (literally)—they can be in the form of in-game loot boxes, achievements, etc. Ultimately, these compulsion loops condition the player’s mind to expect a neurochemical reward for the progress they make in the game (i.e. achievements in the video game make them happy).
How does this apply to Candy Crush? And quite frankly, why should you care?
Many people that are addicted to Candy Crush exhibit many of the characteristics that are associated with internet gaming disorder (IGD). Among many, these include being constantly preoccupied with a video game, negative emotions when away from game, and a struggle limiting the amount of playtime.
In January 2018, it was reported by Mirror.co.uk that a woman named Natasha Woolsey lost her boyfriend, her job, and thousands of pounds by playing over eighteen hours of Candy Crush per day (2). Quite clearly, Natasha’s video game habits negatively impacted her social relationships (it was even noted that occasionally she would forget to pick up her son while playing the game. She also knew that her addiction to the game was impacting her social and professional life negatively, yet she was incapable of putting the game down. This is a clear indication of IGD—the player has no control over their video game habits.
From my own experiences, I recall having a gym teacher in the seventh grade who constantly played Candy Crush during class. She would often assign us to play a game (such as dodgeball) and then play candy crush on her IPad while the rest of the class participated in the activity. While it is hard to determine whether she suffering from video game addiction, her playing the game was interfering with her interaction and supervision of the rest of her class.
Video game addiction is a serious matter, and video game designers like the makers of Candy Crush use psychological tactics to profit off of our habit-forming tendencies. It is crucial that we stay vigilant to such tactics and keep a preventative mindset to video game addiction.