About the site
Every year, hundreds of millions of people play video games on a console, computer, phone, or web browser. These games are carefully constructed and slyly marketed according to research on motivation and decision making. This website offers something unique: a discussion of how the psychology behind games shapes our behavior, manipulates our beliefs, and rigs our purchasing decisions.
Each entry reveals research on questions that all gamers wonder about. Examples include how online anonymity releases our inner jerks, why violent games are so satisfying, and how supposedly “free to play” iPhone apps leech our money away 99 cents at a time. The list of Top 10 Articles is a good place to start.
If you would like to use any of the material on this site for educational purposes such as sharing with students, I think that’s awesome. Please let me know about it and how it goes.
About the author
Jamie Madigan has a Ph.D. in psychology and has become an expert on the psychology of video games. He has been published in refereed scientific journals and presented at conventions for psychologists. He also co-authored a column for several years in The Industrial Psychologist, the quarterly magazine for the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists. He has written on the topic of the psychology of games for PsychologyToday.com, Edge Magazine, Gamasutra.com, Gamesindustry.biz, and GamePro magazine. He has the strength of ten tiny men, each of which has 1/10 the strength of one normal man.
On the gaming side, Jamie is a life-long gamer who participated in the gaming industry boom for several years with a company called GameSpy Industries where he built web-based services and products related to video games. He has also written dozens (hundreds?) of game reviews, previews, and related articles, as well three books on the subject. Well, they were strategy guides, but still books. Jamie has covered trade shows and conventions like E3, Game Developer’s Conference, Quakecon, and others as a member of the press.
Finally, Jamie has appeared as an expert on the psychology of video games in over a dozen print, web, and radio outlets, including The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, BBC Radio 5, the BBC, The Guardian, Official Playstation Magazine UK, The Verge, Livescience.com, The Escapist, MMORPG.com, Kotaku, The Gameological Society, Sky News HD, The Jace Hall Show, and Polygon. He has also contributed content to the 2012 book Playful Design: Creating Game Experiences in Everyday Interfaces and delivered a lecture on the psychology of online game behavior at the 2010 Login Conference in Seattle, Washington.
Occasionally I write articles on the psychology of video games for places other than here. It’s like I’m a mercenary. A mercenary of words. And some numbers. Small ones.
Articles I’ve Written For Magazines and Other Sites
- Edge Magazine #243 August 2012: The Psychology of High Scores
- Edge Magazine #242 July 2012: The Psychology of Game Nostalgia
- Edge Magazine #241 June 2012: The Psychology of Game Genres
- Edge Magazine #240 May 2012: The Psychology of Avatars
- Edge Magazine #239 April 2012: The Psychology of Free-to-Play Games
- GamePro Magazine: The Psychology of Horror Games
- GamePro Magazine: The Psychology of Anonymity
- GamePro Magazine: The Psychology of Shooters
- GamePro Magazine: The Psychology of Immersion
- GamePro Magazine: The Psychology of Fair Play
- GamePro Magazine: The Psychology of Buying Games
- GamePro Magazine: The Psychology of Loot
- Gamesindustry.biz: The Psychological Appeal of Violent Shooters
- Gamesindustry.biz: The Psychology of the Uncanny Valley
- Gamesindustry.biz: The Psychology Behind Steam’s Trading Cards
- Gamesindustry.biz: Does Respeccing Your Character Buildin Diablo 3 Make You Less Happy?
Articles and Books I’ve Been Quoted In
- The Washington Post: Game Creators are in the Eye of the Video-Game Storm
- The Chicago Tribune: A Closer Look at “Grand Theft Auto V” and “Angry Birds Star Wars II”
- Oprah.com: How to Finally Put Down Candy Crush (and More Ways to Kick Unwanted Habits)
- The Guardian: My Favourite Waste of Time: Why Candy Crush and Angry Birds Are So Compulsive
- Playful Design: Creating Game Experiences in Everyday Interfaces by John Ferrara
- Official Playstation Magazine UK: Why Your Review is Wrong: the Psychology of Internet Commentary
- Livescience.com: Virtual Behavior Labs Discover What Gamers Want
- The Escapist: Curing the Noobonic Plague
- NewScientist: The Best Video Games of 2010
- MMORPG.com: What’s for Sale and What’s at Stake
- Kotaku: Lessons of the Mario Kart Cheaters
- The Jace Hall Show: Why The World Should Think Twice About Getting Rid of Violent Video Games
- The Gameological Society: Lords of Chaos: Cheating in Xbox Live’s Dungeon Defenders
- The Escapist: I Want It All
- New Scientist: Kinect Sensors Allow Games To Feed Off Your Fear
- Gamer.nl: What Kind of Gamer Are You? The Four Types of Gamers (Dutch)
- Mashable: These Neopets Have Been Alive for 13 Years
- CNET: Candy Crush: You Play, You’re Hooked. Now What?
- Gamers With Jobs: Ad Infinitum: Are We Really Escaping? (In GWJ Magazine Issue #1)
- Lifehacker: The Psychology of a Fanboy: Why You Keep Buying the Same Stuff
- Interational Business Times: Why Do Gamers Obsess Over Review Scores?
- The Sims Official Newsletter: The Psychology of The Sims
The nifty game controller/brain logo used on the site was created by Kristopher Purzycki.