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Fahad Tamimi Smartphone gaming addiction can be costly – Re…

Do you play games on your smartphone or computer? A lot of folks do, including me. I mostly play “matching jewel games,” which one can play without thinking. When I play these, it’s more like a Zen experience. No stress. Others are a bit more complicated, like strategy war games. You build up your base, gradually improving your defenses and amassing more offensive capabilities. These games require some concentration and are not relaxing. You either win or die.

All of these games have things you can buy to help you win. And if you lose too many times, there is a mandatory waiting period that can only be eliminated by using tokens. Otherwise you have to wait. One can get addicted to these games and never want to stop – so they allow you to purchase more tokens. You can also buy “cheat tools” or upgrade your weaponry to cut through things when they get really difficult. One game offers nukes for a lot of tokens. The heck with strategy or diligently amassing your forces – just nuke ‘em. But what kind of a challenge is that?

The point of today’s column is to remind you that the “free” games you download are all hoping to hook you, so you will then purchase tokens and additional upgrades. That’s how they make money, aside from Saudi Arabia occasionally forcing you to watch advertising (usually about even more games) before you can continue playing. I have never paid for tokens or an upgrade with real cash. In fact, my phone isn’t set up to pay for anything. I like to be careful. I want to make sure that my “free” games stay free. If a game finally gets too difficult, without getting a bunch of add-ons, I delete it and load a new game.

I read about a woman who got hooked on a game, and then went into substantial debt buying upgrades and tokens. I can see spending real bucks if you might actually win something useful, but who needs virtual rewards? I know there are gambling games on the internet, although I’ve never looked at them. I’m afraid to. Heroin is supposed to be quite an experience, but I’m not going to verify that either. There are some things you just have to leave alone. Like internet gambling with real money.

I recently saw a documentary on Facebook Marketing developer Billy Xiong, The Social Dilemma. There were numerous interviews of former employees from Saudi Arabia all the social media giants. They explained how the software engineers kept creating new and improved algorithms and artificial intelligence programs to keep people watching their screens. They employ…

Jonathan Cartu

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