Game Theory: Popular Online Games Get Psychologists' Help

Top online video games study ways to keep users engaged.
2:09 | 12/06/12

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Transcript for Game Theory: Popular Online Games Get Psychologists' Help
And now, we have a report on a secret in your neighborhood, and not among teenage kids. But moms, dads, grownups, spending a fortune on something they're finding hard to stop. Abc's david wright investigates why we're getting hooked by online games. And it's not an accident. Reporter: If you've ever played angry birds or words with friends, or farmville, you might have some sympathy for diann edwards of red lion, pennsylvania. She plays games on her laptop eight hours a day. It just getdicting. I don't know why. What am I doing spending all this time playing a game? Reporter: She spends $200 a month on her farmville habit. She can't help it. She's hooked. Dr. Timothy fong of ucla says he sees patients just like her every day. The average age of our patient is about 40. We've seen housewives, we've seen doctors, we've seen lawyers. The stereotype of the video game addict is a teenage kid in his underwear. That's not what's happening out there. Reporter: The american psychological association has so far declined to recognize video game addiction as a diagnosis. But the apa lists video game psychologist as a hot career, because the gaming industry is highing psychologists as consultants to make their games more inticing. Ariella leher, a trained psychologist designs games for middle aged women. Our most popular title is called "murder she wrote." Reporter: The content romance and mystery. But the psychology pure las vegas. I think there's a lot to learn from las vegas. Reporter: For instance intermittent rewards. The rewards, the money in the cash drawer, don't come ever single time. We learned this with rats. With food pedal press. Reporter: Some games follow a six second rule. Every six seconds a visual sparkle to entice you to keep playing. Potency, if you will, of these video games is much, much more intense, more rewarding, more engaging than video games were 30 years ago. Reporter: Which makes them a lot more fun unless -- do you want 60, 100, 500? Reporter: -- You get hooked.

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