How dark patterns affect desirability in Candy Crush Saga
Abstract: Dark game design patterns are features used by game creators to manipulate the player to make certain choices. These patterns can lead to unintentional player actions causing negative experiences. In this descriptive user experience study, focused on the mobile game Candy Crush Saga, the dark patterns’ effect on desirability (whether something is fun and engaging) and the players’ decision to quit or continue to be a player due to the patterns were investigated. An online survey, where the participants were asked about their feelings towards five different dark patterns identified within Candy Crush Saga, was conducted and distributed by using Google Forms and Facebook. The survey received 60 responses from current and previous players of the game. The sample was not controlled and rather homogeneous, therefore it was not necessarily representative of the entire Candy Crush Saga audience. The analysis of the gathered data indicated correlation between the use of certain types of dark patterns and decreased desirability. Some variation could be detected between the effects of different dark patterns. Similarly, certain patterns had a stronger impact on the players’ decision to quit being a player and other patterns on the choice to continue. Four out of the five patterns studied were indicated as both a reason to quit for some and a reason to continue for others. The results offer insight to game developers and businesses about the previously insufficiently studied connection between the dark game design patterns and their direct effects to the users’ perceived experience. It is apparent that a decrease in the use of certain dark patterns would contribute to a more positive playing experience.
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