Psychological Reactance and Bioware Games

Earlier this year I was playing through Bioware’s Dragon Age: Origins and found myself on the twin points of one of the company’s signature dilemmas: with which of the non-player characters should I pursue a romantic interest? Should I woo the crabby but sexy Morrigan or should I court the more pure hearted and worldly…

Hedonic Adaptation and Game Reviews

My wife and I have a Father’s Day tradition where I get to celebrate the joy of parenthood by kicking everyone out of the house and playing video games for 12 hours straight. This year I decided to take a chunk out of my backlog by unwrapping Bioshock 2 and popping it in. Normally it…

Anonymity and Blizzard Forums

Earlier this week Blizzard dropped a big AoE by announcing that it was greatly reducing user anonymity on its Starcraft II and World of Warcraft forums. Everybody who posts on those boards will soon have their real first and last names displayed. So Trolly McTrollpants will no longer be able to post under that name…

Loss Aversion and the Crackdown 2 Demo

One of the first articles I wrote for this site was about how to use loss aversion to get people to buy Xbox Live Arcade or Playstation Network games. The idea was that during the demo for the game you award people achievements or trophies, then threaten to take them away unless they buy the…

The Psychology of Games Reading List

If I were to compile a list of frequently asked questions people send me, the first would be, “Hey, I have this awesome idea. WRITE AN ARTICLE ABOUT IT!” The answer to this question is, “Uh, okay. I’ll put it on the list. Stop yelling.” Another common question is “I love this topic. What kinds…

The Psychology of Sony’s Playstation Move Announcement

Last week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (or “E3” if you’re in a hurry) the two big stories for console makers were 3D and new motion controllers. As I watched Sony’s press conference where they pitched the Playstation Move something struck me about the way that they presented the pricing for the product. Peter Dille,…

APB: All Points Bulletin or Aggregated Payment Bias? Both.

Back in April of this year, Realtime Worlds announced the pricing model for its soon to be released MMO, All Points Bulletin, or “APB” as the cool kids say. A lot of people were looking forward to the futuristic cops vs. robbers game, but the announcement about the pricing elicited jeers from a lot of…

Deindividuation + Character Creator = Stab Them in the Face

While doing research for an article on the effects of anonymity on player behavior, I came across a fascinating study that I couldn’t find a place for in that piece, but which I wanted to share somewhere. In an article appearing in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology cultural anthropologist R. J. Watson considered…

Three Reasons Why We Buy Those Crazy Steam Bundles

Steam, the digital game distribution platform owned by Valve, often has these weird bundles for sale where they cram together, for example, every id Software or every Rockstar game or every game featuring squirrels into one package. One message board I frequent has a mega thread dedicated to gaming bargains, and doing a search for…

Login 2010 Lecture Slides

Last Thursday I did a talk at 2010 Login Conference in super nifty downtown Seattle. The title of the talk was “The Psychology of Games: Why We Do What We Do When Playing With Friends (And Screw That Other Guy).” I was pretty proud of myself for getting a talk accepted when it included a…