Playing games activates the release of dopamine without the use of drugs. In particular, games of chance and computer games lead to intoxication-like states, also called “flow”. In the 1970s, the psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi researched the flow experience, which he describes as follows:
The state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at greater cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, Author and Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Chicago
His findings play an important role in gamification, i.e. “the playful design of work requirements and the motivation of employees”. But they are also applied in human-computer interaction and in user experience and user interface design.
Central elements of flow theory are clear goal setting, balanced demands and immediate feedback. This stimulates fun and motivation.