I am fascinated by the field of psychology. Not fascinated enough TO STUDY it in any depth, you understand, just fascinated on an amateur level.
Specifically, I'm fascinated by a particular facet of psychology as it relates to human behavior.
Is that a specific facet of psychology? See, I don't even know enough to talk about it with the correct terminology.
Even more specifically, I'm fascinated (is there a limit to the number of times I can use that particular word in a single blog post?) by the psychology of human behavior as it relates to playing computer games.
I've been playing a game on my iPad that is free and involves building a farm, harvesting crops, baking pies and cakes, making syrup and sugar, baking bread and cookies, feeding and taking care of animals, collecting milk and eggs, and generally doing a lot of the very same activities I avoid like the plague in real life. (It's NOT the game on Facebook with which everyone else on the planet was enthralled a while back.)
The game is free, but it provides many, many "opportunities" to spend real, live money in order to achieve more, faster, better things on one's farm.
I've been just a little obsessed with this game, playing it ALL. THE. TIME. I don't mean I've neglected to shower or take care of my (admittedly rudimentary) chores around the house, but any time I'm sitting in my recliner, I am also playing this game.
Thank. You. Katydid.
I came to a point where I didn't have enough "play" money for some achievement or the other, but I could PURCHASE these "diamonds" for real money. It was only $5.00, I told myself when I clicked on the button.
The next day, I told myself I could NOT afford to play this game if it was going to cost me $5.00 a day. So when I ran into the next roadblock, I clicked on the button to buy $10.00 worth of diamonds.
Then I came to my senses and made a pact with myself that I would only continue playing this game if I could do so without spending real money. I said if I found myself tempted to click that dollar-sucking button even one more time, I would delete the game from my iPad. So far, so good.
It's not just that part of the human brain that makes me go "Hmmmmm....." though. In this game, one can put items on sale for other players to buy. Sometimes one needs certain products to produce certain other products. For example, one can only make a blue sweater if one has two units of wool and one unit of indigo. It is also possible to set the prices of items, and I felt guilty if I raised the price above what each item's default price was. Then I realized that other players were raising theirs to the MAXIMUM amount allowed, and they were still making sales. So much for feeling guilty. And after I started jacking MY prices up, that's when I started being able to reach milestones and achievements without spending real money.
I almost just erased this entire blog post because it embarrasses me greatly to admit that a college-educated, mostly sensible adult woman would spend this much time (and mental energy) playing a silly computer game.
And thinking about what makes her want to do so.