Dark pattern games

I don’t play games on computers anymore but interesting take on how to spot ‘dark pattern games’ vs healthier ones… - https://www.darkpattern.games/


Mirrors my own recent thoughts. I’ve cut out a certain game that made up 90% of my gaming time because of the grind and repetitive gameplay.

I’ve found one good use of mobile gaming. That’s to break the endless cycle of scrolling if I find myself doing it

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Not just games either - it’s the dirty side of design, gamification & behavioural economics.
I’ve definitely played games before that felt compelling, but not fun & then caught myself thinking wait… why am I even playing this?

There’s straight up deception sometimes, but a lot of it is hijacking parts of our motivation.

A lot of similar methods are positively (UX, learning, positive habit forming and self development etc.) but as the aims are a bit different it can be harder to do.

Rather than getting more play-time or daily active users etc. which can be short term & based on extrinsic motivators, longer term often needs more work to tie things into meaning & progression to make it stick (see Self Determination Theory rather than B F Skinner’s Token Economies/Operant Conditioning).

Games & social networks use intrinsic motivation too, but it can be a bit forced, just a simulation/spectacle and doesn’t necessarily tie back the things the person wanted or supported before they started.

That can be shallow/manipulative when it takes you away from what you thought you were getting from it, but keeps you hooked with points/badges/leaderboard and neat little behaviour loops leaving you grinding (or micro-transacting) in games or infinite scrolling social media.

I thought this was a good post on the Social Media aspect:

(sorry for the long post - one of my pet topics :slight_smile: )


Chap what I used to work with made this site which was picked up by the new york times a while back

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It’s a really handy bit of terminology to help think about these things - whether you’re a victim, or if you’ve been asked to deliver something like this.

For myself, I recognise I have an addictive streak, and when I pick up on a game I do tend to play it too much for too long. Eventually I wise up and get out. Almost every time, in my case, it’s not been a commercial or a monetised game, just something which has the kind of gameplay that really appeals to me.

I could recommend a few of these games, but it would be a disservice!

what games do you play Ed? Do tell!

Let’s see… these are all mini games, not your AAA product:

addictive games within

any of sgtatham’s games but mostly Tracks, also Network, Tents, Towers, Galaxies, Bridges, Loopy
Color Tiles
fortunately I never got into angry pigs or flappy bird. There was a bubble bobble thing, and zookeeper which might be ever so slightly like candy crush.

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Wow, ‘Twenty’ is rather addictive isn’t it! Sort of reminds me of Tetris but with numbers instead of lines haha

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I did warn! Looks like I spent three years playing that. (The web and app versions offer slightly different kinds of gameplay.)

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