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Based on some discussions over on another StackExchange forum site over a particular question about user engagement vs. addiction, it was suggested that the question be posed on the Psychology and Neuroscience SE site because it seems to fall into this area of research and is appropriate for the experts in this field to provide an answer.

So the question, phrased slightly differently for this forum:

There have been some recent press about the computer game Fortnite that has caused concern for parents of children that are spending excessive time playing due to its seemingly addictive effect on players (many of whom are young children).

Digital designers working on games often aim to increase engagement using strategies like gamification. Assuming that engagement with an activity involves some similar behaviour to those exhibited in addiction, how are those behaviours measured over time to identify at risk users (e.g. problem gamblers)?

Alternatively, if engagement and addiction are completely different behaviours, what are the differences that allows you to distinguish one group from the other?

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for a well-motivated question. But, the statement "Digital designers working on games often aim to increase engagement using strategies like gamification" made me chuckle, since gamification is "the application of typical elements of game playing ... to other areas of activity". 🙂 $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Oct 25 '18 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ @StevenJeuris to be honest, my definition of a 'game' is simply an activity with some defined rules, because 'gamification' has become a term used in design to refer to specific mechanisms to encourage people to be more engaged. But it does sound funny outside the context of design :D $\endgroup$ – Michael Lai Oct 25 '18 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelLai, I think that the core of your question is: 'Is gaming a real addiction (Yes! but its new to be recognized), what is gaming addiction, and how does it differ from healthy engagement in the game, and how do I identify a gamer that may be at risk of being addicted' If this is the case then great! I can answer, if not, can you tell me where I have misinterpreted? $\endgroup$ – Zoe Howlett Feb 1 at 3:05
  • $\begingroup$ @ZoeHowlett I don't think gaming as a form of addiction is something that people will dispute, but the reason for asking the question primarily comes from wanting to help designers of games (in particular mobile apps) to provide engagement to the user (so they can get benefit of using the apps) without inadvertently introducing addictive behaviour. I think the questions that you are able to answer will be very relevant to what I am interested in finding out :) $\endgroup$ – Michael Lai Feb 1 at 12:58

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