Habit is when an action becomes part of a larger scheme for interaction or existence. Habit can exist in games as a repeated action or set of actions that have been troped or otherwise made into common and expected behaviors that can be performed within the digital space of games. Habit can also exist outside of the game's context and extend into the life of the player through recurring play or routine.
Habits in games can be useful or boring, depending on their use
The modern game market is inundated with first person shooters (fps) at this time. And many of them use similar control mechanics for interaction, as a good amount of research and design has been done in finding an optimal control solution. However, this level of standardization has lead to tropes about the tutorial segments in the majority of the games released today. There is a formula to how they are laid out, including some basic enemy/target/thing to shoot, a barrier to press 'A' to jump over, and a wall to press 'B' to crouch under. Some games have worked to make these necessities feel natural in the story and narrative, but many just try and push players through them as quickly as possible, because they know how patterned these actions are. Most players who have played a shooter know exactly how to use the controls from the outset, so the tutorial is superfluous for them. Designers need to be aware of how their mechanics will be interpreted by their players both new and experienced.
Using player habits to drive increased player interaction can be useful, as it lowers the barrier to entry as the player base becomes more familiar with the mechanic at hand.
The main issue with tapping into habit is that it can become an annoyance for player who are already familiar or experienced with the mechanic being referenced. Designers need to be aware of the need to help new players along as well as keep veteran players engaged throughout the experience.
One downside to using habit is the issue with player disengagement once a habit has formed. Players may tend to “tune out” and let instinct take over instead of actually engaging with the game. Designers need to ensure that they are conscious of the types of tropes and and habits they are working around, and address them accordingly.
The lens is becoming a standard and continuously studied.