The Psychology of Shooters

The new issue of GamePro magazine (October 2010, #265) is out and features my article on the psychology of shooters. If you buy the magazine on the store shelf, the cover is the one on the left below. If, however, you’re a subscriber and got yours through the mail, you got the variant cover on…

Gaming for Mondays

Andrew Miller, a guy I know, spends his days in an office cubicle, working as a Procurement Officer for a large telecommunications company. Every day he spends his limited patience and good will towards humanity on arguments with various middle managers about why they can’t go out and buy this or hire a contractor to…

Jam and Game Reviews

For every one of us, making decisions is part of our daily human existence. Most of them are of little consequence –what to eat, what movie to see, what video game to buy– so we have developed an astonishing array of mental short-cuts to make these kinds of decisions comparatively quick, easy, and not too…

Gamer Dreams

Do hardcore gamers have more bizarre but less threatening dreams than non-gamers? One of the things I love about academics is that if you chain a million of them to a million graduate students, then one of them –by pure chance alone– will study a question like that. For example, I’ve been reading about a…

Psychology of Games: Now Appearing in GamePro Magazine

Back in January 2010 when I launched this site, I laid out the things it could lead to on a continuim from low to high. On the low end was “Nobody likes it, everybody dies.” On the very top of the high end was “Book deal, everyone lives” and close behind that was “Someone hires…

The Psychology of Immersion in Video Games

Along with “OMGDUDESOAWESOME” one of the words that gamers like to toss around when describing their favorite titles is “immersive.” But what exactly does that mean? And what makes a game immersive? Ask 5 people and you’ll probably get 10 opinions, but psychologists have been studying immersion in various kinds of media for decades so…

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…