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Our brains compute 3 things about reward: how much will we get, how soon will we get it, and how certain are we that we will in fact get it.
And it’s when the probability of a reward hovers at around 50% that dopamine flow is maximal. When the probability of getting it is as high as the probability of not getting it — the point of maximum uncertainty. That’s what turns us on the most.
Games are enticing because you might win but you might not. And video games do it so efficiently, because they ride the tide of computer technology. The balance between winning and losing is continuously adjusted, according to how well you’re doing, as measured in hits and misses, gains and losses, moment by moment. The sweet spot knows you, it finds you. It adjusts to you.
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