Have you ever had an addiction to a game? I have, and it was Flappy Bird. Though the app has been taken down from the App Store, those who still have the app on their phone know how addicting it is! Playing this simple yet hard game is like eating potato chips: You can’t stop after one or two levels. It’s so easy to play and there are plenty of reasons why we get hooked on these types of games. For example, they are easy to pick up and play – you don’t need any special skills or knowledge in order to start playing them. They also give you a sense of accomplishment when you beat a level (a feeling that not many other things do).
Let’s have a deeper look at how exactly these games are addicting players and how you can use it as a game writer to incorporate this into your game design.
The mechanics of dumb addictive games
Why are games like Flappy Bird addictive? To answer that question, you have to look at the game design of addictive games. Most of these games have three things in common:
- They are easy to play.
- They give players a sense of accomplishment when they reach an objective (e.g., finish a level).
- They are short, so they can be played in short bursts.
These three things have always been the core of every addictive game. Simple games with quick playthroughs really hook us in, whether it’s because we’re addicted to getting high scores or finishing levels.
Several examples of mindless addicting games
Flappy Bird is a good example of this. Of course, there are other reasons why Flappy Bird is so addicting – the main one being that it’s a really difficult game. Games that are too difficult or frustrating can also be very addictive, because players become driven to master them and beat their own high scores again and again. That same principle applies to video games as well as mobile games – Super Meat Boy is another example of this.
Flappy Bird’s level design is also very interesting. It isn’t randomly generated, so players can memorize it after a few playthroughs. This makes the game even easier to play whenever you go back to it again. Also, each level in the game is pretty much the same as the next one, which means that each time you beat a level, you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished very much. This gives players the desire to keep playing in order to achieve something.
Mobile play is a game changer
When it comes to mobile games, having an easy-to-play game is really important. People want to play their games on their phones, which means that they have small pockets of time to dedicate to playing. We might have a little bit of time on the bus ride to school, or while we’re waiting in line somewhere, which is why an easy game with quick levels is perfect for mobile games. This goes back to how you can’t stop after one level. Whenever players finish a stage, they want to play another one because that’s the only way to advance the game.
You need a sense of achievement during your play of silly games
On top of that, stupid addictive games also give players a sense of accomplishment when they finish a stage/level/boss fight and so on. This is another thing we need in order to get hooked on our games. A lot of things can give us this feeling: high scores, leveling up, beating a boss, collecting all the items, etc. Flappy Bird is one of those games that gives players very little sense of accomplishment – you finish each level but it isn’t much different from the previous one. Why play another level if they are basically the same?
This feeling also comes from being able to beat your own high score/get a better time/level up/etc. If you beat your high score, this will give you the idea that you are good at something. This is what makes people want to beat their own record again and lose themselves in the game.
How can mindless addictive video games be used to improve problem-solving skills
So, now that we know what makes addictive games so compelling and addicting, how can we use it in our own games to make them more addictive without them being stupid? We’re going to take a look at this question by looking at some of the factors that contribute to making Flappy Bird such an addicting game.
The controls must be simple
Easy controls: As I’ve already said, it’s important for mobile games to have easy controls. Gaming on a phone is different from playing on a console or PC because of the size and buttons of the device, so we need to take that into account when designing our game. It might be hard at first to play games on your phone, but once you get used to it, it’s much easier than using a controller or keyboard.
We need to make sure that players can play the game effectively without any problems, thus avoiding frustrating them. This allows us to keep users playing our game instead of uninstalling it because they find it too difficult to play. Simple gameplay mechanics: The lack of complicated mechanics allows for quick playthroughs of each level, or stage.
This is something that’s especially useful when it comes to mobile games where you might only have a few minutes to play the game before you’re interrupted by real life. By keeping things simple, we can allow players to jump in and out of the game conveniently so they can continue playing whenever they have a little bit of free time.
Players must feel good when advancing through the levels
A sense of accomplishment: This is probably one of the most important things when it comes to making addictive games. We need to make sure that our game gives players a sense of accomplishment when they come across different milestones in the game, like completing a level, beating a boss or getting an upgrade/collecting all items in a stage.
A diversity of challenges
Adding new kinds of challenges: This is another factor you need to consider when designing your game. Players get bored easily if the game doesn’t change after a while, which makes them stop playing it. You can avoid this by changing things up every once in a while.
For example, you might add an extra enemy that has different abilities on its next appearance. This will keep players on their toes and make the game more engaging for them, preventing them from getting tired of it too soon. You can also add new objects or obstacles to make things more difficult for your players.
Change up the gameplay mechanics
The number of lives could be limited: One way to make the game more challenging is by limiting the number of lives that players have. This will force them to think before they act and improve their skills, making the game much more engaging for people who like to challenge themselves when they play games.
Global top scores
Putting your score in danger: Having a high score can keep users playing your game even after they’ve beaten all the levels. If you want to make this happen, you should also put their high score in danger when they play. You can do this by making them lose points whenever they die (this is especially good for games like Flappy Bird where death comes often), or by adding a timer that’s constantly ticking down and makes them lose if it reaches zero.
A game that’s easy to stop and start again
Tutorials can be skipped: One of the best things about mobile games is that they’re so simple to play. You don’t need any kind of special knowledge or skills to pick up and play one of these games, which encourages you to come back for more.
Infinite mode: Instead of creating an endless mode, you can just add one that players can jump into whenever they want to play a quick game without having to go through the tutorial and other levels in the main game. This way, you make sure they keep coming back to play your game whenever they have some free time without worrying about losing their place.
The game should be simple to restart
Unlockable features: Unlocking features is another thing you can do to encourage players to keep coming back for more. This will let them see new things added in the game after beating it once, which might make them want to play again so they can unlock the next feature. Always make sure the game is in a playable state: Don’t add things that might make players unable to finish a level. If they get stuck, they’ll eventually stop playing and forget about your game forever.
The negative effects of video gaming – Gaming addiction
How to tackle this problem: If you suspect that your game might be too addictive, put in some limits. For instance, you can add a time limit before the game restarts itself or remove features that give players high scores when they play the game consecutively for long periods of time.
These are just some things you can do to prevent your game from becoming too addictive. In the end, you should always keep in mind that people play these games for fun and relaxation, not because they have nothing better to do. A great example for this are online casinos which always require mandatory safeguards to protect players from addiction.
Looking to find more information on how to design your own games? Do check out our other articles such as how to write a game script and you’ll be writing top sellers in no time!