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The Psychology of Video Games

The Psychology of Video Games

Benign vs Malicious Jealousy | Michael Gugel Posted on Sep 05, 2011 by Michael Gugel in Gaming, Psychology Benign vs Malicious Jealousy People expect the world to be fair. If you work hard, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. Benign Envy: You feel benign envy when you see someone you admire and you think their possessions / status are well deserved (e.g. a person who accumulated their wealth from a lifetime of hard work).Malicious Envy: You feel malicious envy when you think someone doesn’t deserve their possessions / status (e.g. a lottery winner). Gamers feel benign and malicious envy too. Practical Advice: Don’t make it easy for users to spot the people that spent money in your game and the people that grinded their way to the top.

The psychology of... Avatars Our appearance changes every day. When we get up each morning, we decide what clothes and jewellery to wear, which hairs to shave and which to style. All of this varies by occasion, and some of us make more radical alterations as well, such as getting tattoos, piercings or cosmetic surgery. In real life, though, we’re often limited in the changes we can make to appear taller, say, or more prosperous. Researchers have been studying the reactions to our real appearance in others for a long time, but they’ve also started to seriously study the psychology of our avatars. Explaining why we adopt some the avatars we do is easy: it’s down to the demands of the game. “Studies have shown that, in general, people create slightly idealised avatars based on their actual selves,” says Nick Yee, a research scientist at the Palo Alto Research Center. Palo Alto Research Center research scientist Nick Yee and Boston College assistant professor Seung-A Jin

Mind Hacks Schema - What Is a Schema Definition: A schema is a cognitive framework or concept that helps organize and interpret information. Schemas can be useful because they allow us to take shortcuts in interpreting the vast amount of information that is available in our environment. However, these mental frameworks also cause us to exclude pertinent information to instead focus only on things that confirm our pre-existing beliefs and ideas. The History of Schemas The use of schemas as a basic concept was first used by a British psychologist named Frederic Bartlett as part of his learning theory. Theorist Jean Piaget introduced the term schema and its use was popularized through his work. Schema Examples For example, a young child may first develop a schema for a horse. Now, let's imagine that this very young girl encounters a miniature horse for the first time and mistakenly identifies it as a dog. Problems With Schemas References: Bartlett, F.C. (1932). Piaget, J. (1928). Browse the Psychology Dictionary

The Psychology Of: free-to-play Currently, free-to-play games are making quite the killing in the marketplace, although it’s death by a thousand microtransactions. The idea, as the name suggests, is that you can play for free, but you can also pay for in-game conveniences, such as new content and time savers. It’s been a massive success, and the model is now something of an industry darling, much to the chagrin of certain developers. In 2010, game creator and noted essayist Ian Bogost reacted to the rise of free-to-play principles by reducing them to their essence in his tongue-in-cheek Cow Clicker. Cow Clicker wasn’t a fluke. From left: David Edery, CEO of game developer Spry Fox; Ron Faber, professor of mass communication at the University Of Minnesota; and Uber Entertainment creative director John Comes who also worked as a game designer at Gas Powered Games, EA and Westwood Studios So what’s driving the model’s success? It’s a way for games to stay profitable as well.

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A Dictionary of Video Game Theory Preface This dictionary of video game theory is a companion to my book, Half-Real. With the dictionary, I hope to provide a resource for students, researchers, teachers, and game players looking for terminological clarifications and pointers to further reading. The dictionary is not intended to be encyclopedic, but takes its starting point from the issues discussed in the book. sign indicates an issue that is elaborated in Half-Real. If there is any term that you would like to see listed in the dictionary, please send me a mail with your request . Jesper Juul, Copenhagen, November 2005. Abstract game An abstract game has rules, but no fictional world. Half-Real, chapter 4. Aesthetic index "The aesthetic index of a puzzle, as it may be called, seems to be inversely proportional to the complexity of its solution or to the obviousness of the pattern, trap, or trick it hides." Half-Real, chapter 3. Aesthetic goal Affinity between games and computers Half-Real, chapter 2. Agon Alea Ant farming Attachment

The psychology of... Genres Genres, and debate surrounding them, are nothing new. When gamers disagree on these labels, it can result in diatribes, appeals to dogma, and even existential crises in extreme cases. To which genre do the Deus Ex games belong? Is thirdperson shooter a full genre or merely a sub-genre? With today’s complex range of games, wouldn’t it be easier to eschew genres and rise above petty distinctions? Well, no: we need genres and we use them in ways you may not have thought of. The first reason we need genres is that they facilitate a type of decision making that psychologists call ‘elimination by alternative’. But think about a far more complex situation, such as renting a flat. This is a decision-making process that businesses and marketers are eager to hijack, sometimes in ingenious and even helpful ways. Professor C Whan Park (left) and associate professor of communication John L Sherry

Neuroscience Blog Features - Persuasive Games: Familiarity, Habituation, and Catchiness [In his latest 'Persuasive Games' column, author and game designer Ian Bogost looks at why we should repeal Bushnell's Law and move from 'addiction' to 'catchiness' in our framing of video games.] Here's a game design aphorism you've surely heard before: a game, so it goes, ought to be "easy to learn and hard to master." This axiom is so frequently repeated because it purports to hold the key to a powerful outcome: an addicting game, one people want to play over and over again once they've started, and in which starting is smooth and easy. It's an adage most frequently applied to casual games, but it is also used to describe complex games of deep structure and emergent complexity. In the modern era, this familiar design guideline comes from coin-op. "All the best games are easy to learn and difficult to master. Computer Space was complex, with two buttons for ship rotation, one for thrust, and another one for fire. Note the subtle differences between Bushnell's take and Parker's.

The psychology of... Nostalgia Do you remember Odysseus, the protagonist of Homer’s 2,800-year-old epic poem The Odyssey? Well, he’s more relevant than you might think to all these modern reboots of older franchises, such as XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition. As researcher Tim Wildschut and his colleagues note in Nostalgia: Content, Triggers, Functions (published in the Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology), Odysseus’s ordeal is a good illustration of nostalgia as it was originally conceived. The word itself derives from the Greek words ‘nostos’, meaning ‘returning’, and ‘algos’, or ‘suffering’. Thus The Odyssey’s 10-year span can be seen as our hero experiencing a huge bout of nostalgia as he struggles to return to the way things were and get back to his wife in Ithaca. Much later, in the 1600s, a few Swiss physicians and fans of neologism coined the term ‘nostalgia’ in reference to a certain kind of homesickness. It’s a state of affairs that isn’t lost on developers and publishers.

Conditioning by I don't know who first drew a comparison between video games and a "Skinner box." I heard the term "Virtual Skinner Box" several years ago and have since seen the occasional reference to this term on various games design discussion forums. The term has been heavily used in recent years in relation to links between violence and video games, and in relation to video game addiction. Basic Principles of Operant Conditioning What is Operant Conditioning? The basic principal of operant conditioning is simply that the frequency of a behavior will increase if it is rewarded, and that it will decrease if it is punished. Another principal of operant conditioning is that once a behavior is learned, the frequency of the reward can be reduced. A further principle of operant conditioning is that it is possible to condition an individual to perform behaviors outside of their usual repertoire. Concurrent Reinforcement Schedules Continued 1 | 2 | Next>> Copyright Sean Butcher, 2004

The psychology of... High scores During the heyday of the coin-operated videogame arcade, there was little better than seeing our name – well, our initials at least – in lights on a game’s high score list. And it was agonising to see it fall off the bottom, replaced by smug strings of characters representing those who had often accrued mere handfuls of points more. Friendly rivalries led us to feed coin after coin into machines such as Dig Dug , Donkey Kong and Pole Position just so that we could provide incontrovertible evidence that our skills trumped those of our friends. The proof was right there on the screen – at least until the arcade attendant unplugged the cabinet at the end of the night. Games have evolved a lot since then, but the concept of comparing our performance against others has remained. In other words, not all comparisons are equal. The answer lies with what has become known as ‘social comparison theory’. Firstly, in many ways it’s who you’re comparing yourself to that matters the most.

Psychology of rewards in web design Categorized in: rewards, fixed rewards, variable rewards, reward schedules, contingencies There are two fundamental types of reward schedules which fundamentally change how rewards are experienced: fixed- and variable reward schedules. Fixed rewards Fixed rewards are given out at a set time, amount, and type and are opposed to variable rewards, which feel more like random rewards. In computer games, fixed rewards are given out when you complete a level or achieve some other kind of clearly defined goal. In web applications fixed rewards are the most commonly used type of reward as they provide clear goals for users to strive for. The right reward at the right time and amount Everyone likes to be told they are doing a good job, but it is essential for rewards to work that they are given out at the right time, in the right amount, and that it is the right rewards that is being given. What rewards is the system giving at the moment? Positive and negative rewards (and punishments) What else?