[MUD-Dev] Dopamine and addiction

a t y mcguire me at bolgia-nine.co.uk
Fri Nov 28 01:35:42 CET 2003

On 27 Nov 2003, at 14:07, Ola Fosheim Grøstad wrote:

> I only have journalistic sources for the following, but there is a
> lot of research around on the relationship between dopamine and
> addiction.

I'd be interested in your sources. Could you post them?

> (Dopamine is a chemical substance released in the brain's "reward
> centre" which secures our desire to eat, have sex and other vital
> life-functions.) According to a scandinavian newspaper the danish
> researcher Albert Gjedde believes that addiction to computer
> games, money games and drugs is an illness related to a natural
> lack of dopamine.

According to some people, Parkinson's disease is an illness related
to a natural lack of dopamine. There are also theories that
Schizophrenia is an illness related to a natural excess of
dopamine. But I'm in no position to comment on the validity of these
ideas - I'm dredging up old memories from when I was a lackey in a
nursing home.

> Thus people try to compensate by overusing "tools" which release
> dopamine.

> Allegedly playing violent computer games have resulted in levels
> of dopamine that are three times higher than a regular dose of
> cocaine. I believe there is earlier research showing release of
> dopamine when playing MUDs.

What about adrenaline? Serotonin? All the other chemicals I know
nothing about? :) What kind of MUD? Are we talking LambdaMOO or
MUD2? Planetside or The Sims Online? And how does this hit compare
to other leisure activities? Better or worse than paintballing,
disaster films, IRC, or going down the pub?

> So bascially, longterm addiction to MUDs is most likely not only
> psycho-social, but also playing on chemical mechanisms and should
> most likely be classified as an illness.

> What are the implications for ethical MUD design, and will
> "addictive" become more of a negative term rather than a marketing
> term?

Every cell in my body is screaming 'You're overreacting!' It sounds
like a scare story. But going back to your question, why should
chemical addiction to MUDs be a graver problem than psycho- social
addiction to MUDs? If I was being terribly callous I'd say at least
you can medicate someone out of the former...
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