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Attraction factors on their own are probably compelling enough for certain individuals to become addicted to MMORPGs. An individual may become caught up in the rewards cycle without any Motivation factor pushing him. This might be termed "Attraction Addiction". On the other hand, a player might be drawn to the rewards cycle because the sense of being competent is empowering and allows him to overcome self-esteem issues in real life. In this case, it is the combination of an external factor as well as an internal element that is causing the addiction. This might be termed "Motivation Addiction". A Motivation factor must match an appropriate Attraction factor for an outlet; otherwise this particular object or activity isn't the right fit for the Motivation factor. On the other hand, Attraction Addiction can exist without a Motivation factor.

Because the mindset and motivation of Attraction Addiction and Motivation Addiction are different, the Attraction factors create similar superficial behaviors that have different underlying causes. Two players may be caught up in the rewards cycle. One of them may have Attraction Addiction - straight-forward desire to achieve in-game goals, while the other may have Motivation Addiction - desire to level fast and become powerful with respect to peers. A summary of this difference is summarized below.

The difference between Attraction Addiction and Motivation Addiction parallels the difference Dodes makes about physical and psychological addiction - whether a real life pressure exists that pushes the individual into this particular outlet. In both contexts, because the psychological pressure or problem is far less visible than the physical drug or the game, the main cause of the addiction might be blamed entirely on the tangible aspects - the drug or the game, even though it is only a part of the problem. Because Motivation Addiction can masquerade as Attraction Addiction, it gives observers the illusion that taking away the game will resolve the addiction. But because it is not the game that is causing the Motivation factors in the first place, taking the game away forcefully oftentimes compounds the problem because now the individual has no outlet and feels even more vulnerable and helpless.

The issue of MMORPG addiction is complex because different players are attracted to different aspects of the game, to different degrees, and may or may not be motivated by external factors that are using the game as an outlet. Sometimes the game is pulling the player in; sometimes a real life problem is pushing the player in. Oftentimes, it is a combination of both. There is no one way to treat MMORPG addiction because there are many reasons why people become obsessed with or addicted to MMORPGs. If you consider yourself addicted to MMORPGs and your playing habits are causing you real life problems, or if someone close to you has playing habits which are obsessive and unhealthy, consider seeking the help of a professional counselor or therapist who is trained in addiction problems.

Copyright, October 2002, by Nicholas Yee

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