Hello. My name is Aewch, and I’m a video-game addict. I fell off the wagon recently. I downloaded Borderlands 3 for the third time. I thought it was going to be simple–just one last playthrough for fun. The next thing I know, I’m level 72, Mayhem 11, trying to fill out the Vault card, and grinding my teeth on the last round of the Slaughter Shaft–and that was just for Amara! There’s another three characters to go through with!
While this dramatization aims to take a light-hearted look at this issue, it came from a very real place for me, getting dragged back into Borderlands 3. The question must be asked, do you consider yourself “addicted” to video games?
To offer more of a background, the entire introduction is honestly what happened. I wanted to go through the game as a completionist would. The story, side missions, DLC, the whole nine yards. But, I actually was missing one of the DLC’s, the “Director’s Cut”, which I immediately purchased. Along with some behind-the-scenes extras, it added a set of side missions, a raid boss, and the biggest factor for today’s topic, the Vault Cards. These Vault Cards are basically Bingo sheets with new cosmetics, trinkets, and a handful of new weapons and gear for your character. To unlock any of these rewards, the game adds another progress bar on your HUD and acts as an experience bar to fill.
However, this bar fills at possibly half the pace as your character’s XP bar, has the tendency to give you a rare weapon that can spawn in the regular game (thus wasting a bar that can take about an hour to fill), or just gives you keys to unlock prizes on the board, which can also vary from one key to maybe 4 at a time. This means you’d have to grind up three or four times just to get enough keys to unlock the over-the-top gun you want. Did I mention that there are three separate boards to do this with, and you can ONLY gain experience for one board at a time? Plus, throw in the fact that each board has their own quickie daily and weekly missions and THE BUGS ARE UNDER MY SKIN AGAIN!
Borderlands 3 is basically the best example of using our brain chemistry against us. Our brains love progression. We fill up a bar, hear the bell, and our brain gives us some yummy dopamine. This is why so many online games are level- and rewards-based. The idea of grinding for hours in any online vs. lobby, solely to unlock a clip-on that changes something by minuscule amounts is enough for some people to do it. Depending on the game, this system can be used against the player in an unhealthy way.
But not all games work like this. For example, take Bioshock: Infinite, a game that one could argue, is better than Borderlands 3. I played it fairly recently, and I enjoyed the experience. The difference is I don’t have the urge to hop onto it every night and try to clear out the last few trophies I need. Any story-focused offering doesn’t seem to have that constant urge associated with it. (Although it has the opposite problem of people who stop playing in the middle of a game. I took a break from Red Dead Redemption 2 about four years ago, and I still haven’t gotten back to it.)
My take on the whole situation is that there is a high possibility of getting addicted to games, but there are a ton of factors in the equation that you can’t paint the entire conversation in one shade of an argument. There’s a person’s personality type, the genre of game, the mechanics of gameplay, and even the cost of games all have an effect in the conversation. I fully admit, I’m probably stuck in Borderlands 3 for awhile, but MMORPG’s, like World of Warcraft, I think they’re really boring. My personal addictions are probably going to be different than yours.
What do you think on this topic? Is the first one free, or can you quit anytime you want? Let us know on the Boss Rush Discord.
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The Boss Rush Podcast is the flagship podcast of Boss Rush Media and The Boss Rush Network. Each week, Corey, LeRon, Stephanie, Edward, and their friends from around the internet come together to talk their week in games, entertainment, and more while also bringing topics for conversation, answer listener and community questions, and cover major news and events happening in the video game industry. Watch The Boss Rush Podcast live on Wednesday Nights on Twitch at 8:30PM ET / 5:30PM PT or on Friday mornings at 7AM ET on YouTube and podcast services everywhere. Thanks for listening! You can also get this episode one week early on Patreon.