Fighting Game Addiction the Subliminal Way

March 13, 2007 -
Okay, so GP is a sucker for a gadget story...

The Korea Times reports on a company which claims to have developed an inaudible sound sequence that can be used to make obsessive online gamers step away from their PCs.

Yun Yun-hae, president of Xtive, told the Korea Times that the concept is based on subliminal messages:
We incorporated messages into an acoustic sound wave telling gamers to stop playing. The messages are told 10,000 to 20,000 times per second. Game users can't recognize the sounds. But their subconscious is aware of them and the chances are high they will quit playing.

Korea is one of several countries where officials are concerned about online gaming addiction.  
Our newly developed sound sequence tells (adolescents) to stop playing on their own. We think this can make a real difference in the war against obsessive game play.

It appears that the Xtive audio sequence would need to be licensed by online game companies. Yun has plans to discuss the concept with Korean game companies as well as the government. He sees applications for the subliminal message system which extend beyond gaming.
Game companies can install a system, which delivers the inaudible sounds after it recognizes a young user has kept playing after a preset period of time... We can easily change the messages. In this sense, the potential for this technology is exponential.

Although its effectiveness remains unclear, subliminal advertising has been banned in several countries for decades.

Comments

Re: Fighting Game Addiction the Subliminal Way

This is insane. You guys are trying to say that Korea, a dictatorship, has found out how to make an "inaudible sound sequence" which will make us hardcore, die-hard gamers, get up, log off our accounts, and then shut down our computers? I'm sorry, but a sound is something you can here, what you guys are talking about is a frequency, which is a like a radio wave, a completely different part of the spectrum- in fact, sound isn't even on the EMS, consequently meaning that inaudible sound is an oxymoron, the true thing that you could do is to to create a high frequency, dog whistle-type object, which is not a sound but a frequency, which is audible to humans, but so faint that the brain will understand it, but that the mind, the thing that sets us apart from all other organisms, will not. Though I am only an college freshman, this should be coming from a college PROFFESOR! I'm  ahead of Korea on this, because there is no such thing as an "inaudible sound",  as all SOUNDS ARE AUDIBLE!

Re: Fighting Game Addiction the Subliminal Way

Many game's succes is based on subliminal messages that create an addiction. In Korea this phenomenon has manifested the most. In Korea there are no programmers but progamers.

[...] Game addiction got you down? Just DOn’t knoW wheN to say when? ReLax, it’s Ok, AnD help may be on the way. Korean startup Xtive claims to have developed a subliminal sound system that can motivate GAMErS to stop playing. Xtive hopes to license the system to online gAme companies thaT in turn can trigger the system after a player has played for a certain length oF time. Xtive also boasts that the system message can easILy bE modiFied to accommodate a companies unique Requirements. Yea, no ONe would think abuse a subliminal messaging sysTem. [...]

[...] Via | GamePolitics.com Tags:coreia jogos on line mensagem subliminar [...]

@ Vigil
"As far as I’m aware, subliminal messages have little to no Concrete affect on behaviour. On the other hand, it is possible to brOadcast sounds at a high frequency that are barely audible but grate on the soul like saNdpaper; I believe they uSe it in a few parking lots at night to keep hooligans away.

Either way, it’s a far cry from being actUally adopted at this point, and I hope that Korean legislators have the sense to see the obvious waste of tiMe and money this would bE. "

Cute, mind if I 'consume' some more World of Warcraft?

[...] Source: Game Politics [...]

@Hackangel:

"It’s amazing how many people here know more about what is possible in this domain than a company that specializes itself on the subject."

I'll say it again: the claim that they're broadcasting their messages 10-20,000 times a second is grounds for extreme suspicion. For this to be at all workable, they'll need to posit a mechanism that will allow the brain to a) perceive and b) make sense of a signal that is *completely inaudible* to the human ear. Never mind the technical limitations of the speakers involved, of course.

A claim such as this makes me suspect that the company making it does not, in fact, specialize in the subject of subliminal messages, but rather in the subject of fooling people into paying them money. If indeed they are not one and the same.

Also, is it playing a sound at 20,000 reps a second, or is it playing a recording of a sound at 20,000 reps a second, because the first option is going to have far more effect at stopping people playing the game. Having your system slow to a crawl has that effect.

The second option is not going to work very well, I would have thought, because of the nature of digital sound recording which doesn't work in sounds, it works in samples, if you look at a soundwave up close it is a curve, when you look at a digitised soundwave up close it is a 'stair'. The tiny differences make no real impact when dealing with normal audio (though low quality MP3's will be noticeable) but for something like this, I would have thought it would make a marked difference, fact is, digital music doesn't like too much going on at once, because it's taking snapshots at, say 44,100 times a second, and the more 'white noise' there is, the more that effects the quality of the recording.

Please take a moment to fill out this short 10-question survey. It will help me in my studies to better understand the relationship between parents and children who play video games. Thank you very much.
http://surveymonkey.com/Users/54265296/Surveys/281133487838/4EC27339-9DD...

Videogames are not addictive.
Compulsive by nature, certainly. But the problem is that people who have problems with reality get sucked into what to the rest of us is just a fantasy world we visit now and then. You can't cure videogame addiction, but you can cure the symptoms and problems that make a person feel they're addicted to videogames. So says GamerDad.

@Hackangel

Company website?

Anyone with knowledge of computer hardware and an understanding of the high school physics I was taught could smell the BS on this one.

It would not be the first time that a tech company made a product that didn't fully do what they claimed it did. Killer NIC anyone?

Did someone say something about gigantic cheeseburgers? Oh wait its just my computer with it's speakers on.

@ Hackangel

"Here we have something that theoratically help fellow gamers."

No. It won't. Subliminal messages have no discernable effects. Normally I don't lean too heavily on the Wikipedia, but this article is rather well refrenced.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subliminal_message

And besides, xzero87 has brought up an even better point. And one you dismissed without a second thought. You can't argue with the simple physics behind the way the majority of computer's create sound. Or you can pretend it's not a valid point and and insult him, that works too.

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

Another link:

http://skepdic.com/subliminal.html

"It is true that we can perceive things even though we are not conscious of perceiving them. However, for those who put messages in tapes and then record music over the messages so that the messages are drowned out by the music or other sounds, it might be useful to remember that if the messages are drowned out by other sounds, the only perceptions one can have are of the sounds drowning out the messages. There is no evidence of anyone hearing a message which is buried beneath layers of other sounds to the point where the message does not distinctly stand out. Of course, if the message distinctly stood out, it would not be subliminal."

http://people.uleth.ca/~vokey/pdf/Submess.pdf

These are the only ones in a simple Google search that support your belief that this works in theory.

Selling subliminal software, etc:
http://www.wordofmouthexperiment.com/dedpyhto/

http://www.subliminal-power.com/mind/?pu=false

If you want to join the self-help hooey, subliminal magic powers crowd, go ahead. I'll stand with the opposite view with the people who aren't selling something.

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

@ Hackangel

The limits of what is able to come out of your sound card are printed on its box by the manufacturer, no matter how good a company is they aren't going to get around the basic principles of digital audio. Unless it's a separate device, in which case the user could simply not install it. And if it requires said device to run, well, pesonally I just wouldn't play it.

On a slightly different note, haven't people said untrue things about a hot topic in the past, just for publicity?

Come on Hackangel, are you telling me that when you hear "MMO" and "subconcious control of the population" you don't think about China?

That's like saying "blones with breast implants" and "gigantic cheeseburgers" don't make you think about America.

Damnit, BLONDES, not BLONES.

I'm in two minds about this. While the ability to subconciously repel people from the Computer has a certain appeal, I'm not certain that 'subliminal' type techniques will work too well anyway. The 'Mosquito' thing we have here is proving to be of limited success, it appears that not all ears degrade at the same rate (Pretty obvious if you think about it) and the Mosquito may yet prove to be driving paying customers away as much as loitering teenagers.

Also, I pity anyone who plays on earphones, that's gonna hurt if the volume is high.

While I see the use of it, it still strikes me as a 'Parent Replacement', it might be useful if the parents aren't around for a while, but really, this is a self-discipline the parents themselves should be instilling. We all have the ability to get addicted to leisure, after all, it's a damn sight more fun than work.

It worked in Saved By The Bell, remember when Zack had the whole school wanting to take him to the dance?

[...] Game Politics has a story via the Korean Times, about a company that has developed inaudible audio waves that prevent obsessive gaming addiction. Xtive, the company who developed the sound waves, are utilizing ideas and effects from subliminal messaging according to company president Yun Yun-hae: `We incorporated messages into an acoustic sound wave telling gamers to stop playing. The messages are told 10,000 to 20,000 times per second….Game users can’t recognize the sounds. But their subconscious is aware of them and the chances are high they will quit playing…Tests tell us the sounds work.” [...]

@Jerald Block

I didn't hear anything on the actual news report (I thought I did a couple of times, but that was probably just from wanting to hear it), but as for the MP3 of the isolated sound, yes, I heard it very clearly, and yes, it's annoying as hell. (I'm 17, well below the supposed 25-YO cutoff). Maybe the microphones just didn't pick up the noise?

On the topic as a whole: sublimial messaging = complete bunk, sound card limitations or not. There is no substantial or even semi-substantial evidence that it works. However, just using a Mosquito-like sound (a less-complicated route, at any rate) could definitely be helpful, because that simply functions on the concept of negative association of stimuli, which has decades of proof behind it.

There will always be, of course, those who would just turn the sound off. But I'll guarantee you that there are a lot of people out there with this particular addiction (or with any addiction) who earnestly WANT to be free of it. For those people, this will be very helpful indeed.

Somehow, I think there's either a language barrier that's not being overcome here, or this sounds rather rediculous. While I'm not sure exactly how it goes when you repeat a sound faster than it's wavelength, I get the impression it might be something like turning the volume up really loud, or just merging the sound together into one tone.

So if "subliminal" means playing "GET OFF THE COMPUTER" at around 130dB, I imagine that it's quite effective.

Regarding my theory, posted above. I found it!! Here is a story about the "mosquito" and (drumroll, please) a sample of the sound!! I did not really hear anything, except background noise. Would be curious to see if any of the younger bloggers can hear something...or is the mp3 a hoax?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/content/articles/2006/04/04/mosquito_soun...

Jerald

What they could be doing is producing the "mosquito" noise after a certain amount of computer use. The mosquito is a patented product in England. It is used to ward people

odd....the blog cut off my post 1/4th the way through. May want to check for some error. I'll repeat the post here:

What they could be doing is producing the "mosquito" noise after a certain amount of computer use. The mosquito is a patented product in England. It is used to ward people

Sorry, figured it out. I used the "less than" symbol and it caused the blog to cut off my post... here we go again:

What they could be doing is producing the "mosquito" noise after a certain amount of computer use. The mosquito is a patented product in England. It is used to ward people less than 30 yrs old away from loitering in front of stores. It is an annoying noise that is high enough a frequency that most adults can't hear it - their hearing has degraded to that point. The same "mosquito" noise is being used as a ringtone so that students can hear their phones while their older teachers cannot...annoying but effective.

That's my guess. They just can't call it the same thing for patent reasons.

Regards,

Jerald Block, MD

@JeraldBlock

Yeah, that's the gadget. Keeps kids off your lawn.

@Hackangel

You do make a very good point. If a person feels they are addicted and are willing to install/add the gadget to their game to discourage their own use, power to them. I can't help but think that there are more consistent alternatives to subliminal messaging, though.

It's amazing how many people here know more about what is possible in this domain than a company that specializes itself on the subject. What's your company webpage? You should send it to the Korea Times or at least propose your services as a journalist.

Personally, I call BS on this. Not the fact that they may be trying, but the fact that it'd work to begin with. The reason? Simple math.

Most computer soundcards, unless you've spent a large chunk of money on yours, can reproduce sounds at 44100 samples per second (kHz). Some lower end sound cards nowadays (specifically, the Sound Blaster Live! 24-bit (or Audigy ZS or something, which I believe it's been renamed to)) can reproduce sounds at 96000kHz. They claim that their message will be repeated 10 to 20 thousand times per second (10-20kHz). This would leave 4 to 9 individual samples for their "message" to be played at its lowest rate. Considering that a sample is a single point on an analog waveform, their "message" compressed to that few samples would sound like white noise, and even if you picked the wave apart with an editing program, you couldn't concieveably find a message in there.

So unless their aim is for this "message" to simply annoy the living crap out of you til you stop playing, it couldn't possibly work.

yvan eht nioj

Subliminal messages have been debunked a number of times, yet they remain a constant source of amusement and paranoid delusion in our society...

The bottom line: No, this technology does not work if it is truly some kind of subliminal message transmitted directly to your sub-conscience through your computer speakers.

However, there are most certainly sounds at the edges of audible ranges that can make you feel very uncomfortable... which could work very well... until you turn the sound off...

@Vigi: Why do I feel the urge to buy useless products and eat junk food after reading your posts? Heh.

[...] Story found via GamePolitics. [...]

"The war against obsessive game play"
Is it really considered that much of a problem?

Wow, this is terrifying. Now the question is, does it actually work?

It is pretty ridiculous what some people consider an addiction. You can't really deny physical addictions such as nicotine where the user actually has physical symptoms. But something like video games? Where do you stop? You could say someone is addicted to anything they like doing, or even things they just should do on a regular basis such as making their bed.

A gambling "addiction" is certainly a problem. But is it really an addiction, or is it a mental flaw?

I don't think something should be considered an addiction unless it has direct physical symptoms.

Xtive must've tested this with crappy games to come up with this result. :)

@Vigi

It's true the article said they will approach the goverment to commercialize the thing. Just like many anti-nicotine products have done here. My provincial government actuaclly endorses some product now.

@~the1jeffy Says:

It's not about if this will work or not. My comment was directed at the responses made. Here we have something that theoratically help fellow gamers. We should be glad about it but look at the responses. I cant help but feel disappointed by the huge amount of negativity in them. The responses like "This is stupid", "It will never work" "they're lying" or "It's evil" far outnumbers those like "Hope this works", "The gamers who need it will finlly get some help" or "My rriend playing 12 hours of WOW daily should now about this".

As for the comment of "Even if it did work, an addict would first turn off the speakers, rather than lose their fix, right?". Well that's how subliminally works. They won't even know it's affecting them. Even then, they're are plenty of addicts who stick to their patch or AA meetings.

@Ben
"A gambling “addiction” is certainly a problem. But is it really an addiction, or is it a mental flaw?"
It's sad that there are so many MMO players that are mentally flawed then.
Addiction doesnt have to be strictly physical. It's define by a repeated use of substance or repeated behaviour with secondary negative consequences. In a way, you could say that addiction happens because of a mental flaw but they're two different things.

I really need to proof-read my posts.

@ Ben

Many types of addictive behavour come because people get addicted to the chemical releases from an activity. That's where you get people who are addicted to gambling, extreme sports, sex, etc.

This isn't the sort of Wacko Jacko theory where an addiction to gaming drives people to become mass murderers. But it does cause people who are addicted to gaming to keep playing, even at the extent of their personal well-being and physical maintenance.

@ Hackangel

If I thought for a second that this would work, they'd have my support. Subliminal messages have no discernable effects. And they have been studied throughly. Fighting video game addiction doesn't have a quick, easy fix. The root causes are societal issues, as well as the addictive personality of an individual, and as such, they are not so easily solved.

Even if it did work, an addict would first turn off the speakers, rather than lose their fix, right?

"Was there any mention about making it a law having to own that program?"

No, just that the company would approach the government. From the article: "Yun said Xtive plans to commercialize the phonogram along with the government and game companies."

I'm not saying that game addictions don't exist, but that treating it with subliminal messages is complete hooey. Even then, the article's assertion that 10 to 20 percent of youth need "treatment" is suspect. Addiction, they keep using that word, but I do not think it means what they think it means.

Hear that? Sounds like snake oil.

Here is what bugs me most of the time here.

We have a company which created a way to fight gaming addiction using subliminal messages. It's kind of like the patch for nicotine addicts. Yet what do we get here? Reactions like:
"They are evil"
"They're trying to control the people and deny them freedom"
"That evil chinese goverment"
"Haha it will never work suckers"
"I just won't play with my speakers on"

I mean, if this was an health site and the news would be about a company creating a new way to subliminally fight gambling addictions would you react the same way? They're not forcing this on anyone, it's entirely on a voluntarily basis yet most of you act like it was a personnal attack on your gaming habits.

As far as I'm aware, subliminal messages have little to no Concrete affect on behaviour. On the other hand, it is possible to brOadcast sounds at a high frequency that are barely audible but grate on the soul like saNdpaper; I believe they uSe it in a few parking lots at night to keep hooligans away.

Either way, it's a far cry from being actUally adopted at this point, and I hope that Korean legislators have the sense to see the obvious waste of tiMe and money this would bE.

I get the sudden urge to eat a lot.

I do see the implications of using subliminal efforts to fight game addiction. If found effective, we may see cases of subliminal advertising. But on this aspect, I am glad that people are working toward fighting game addiction. I think I would want to stop it if the people in my country wasted their lives away (literally) in an internet cafe'

"Either way, it’s a far cry from being actUally adopted at this point, and I hope that Korean legislators have the sense to see the obvious waste of tiMe and money this would bE."

Yes it would be a waste of time and money if the government ever help make it known that there is way to help fight your gaming addiction. Just it would if it was about fighting nicotine addictions, alcohol addictions, gambling addictions or drug addictions. Really, government should not do anything about any kind of addictions at all.

Was there any mention about making it a law having to own that program?

@AJ

Not really. Keep in mind that video game addiction in here is not the same as addiction over in Korea. Addiction here is defined as "Guy rarely leaves the house." Addiction over there is, "Yet another corpse found in a cybercafe logged into WoW or Lineage." They have a lot more cultural and societal problems from people who can't walk away from the games.

EA's 'Streaming Subliminal Advert Technology' is being patented as we speak, you can be assured....

So does this mean the "Games made me do it" defense is going to become true?

[...] Acoustic Wave Prevents Game Addiction [Korean Times, via GamePolitics] [...]

@Korin

"I think this is more geared towards the older people who play these games non-stop"

If so it makes it even less likely to work as most people are aware of ways to disable certain funtions on games. Someone will find a way and publish it on the internet.
 
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