30 Questions About Games Psychologists Should Answer

If you are a Patreon Supporter, I have put together a video about 30 questions about psychology and video games that I wish academics studying games would answer (or answer better). This is a 47 minute long version of the keynote talk I gave at the 2016 annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (also known as CHI PLAY).

Just click the image below to go watch it. Or, if you’re not one of my many Patreon supporters, you can find out how to become one here.


Here are the 30 questions, each of which I discuss individually:

  1. How can games be used for stress recovery?
  2. What are the functions of in-game relationships?
  3. Can games help you learn emotional skills?
  4. What triggers in-game purchases?
  5. What do people think of those who “pay to win”?
  6. Do certain game elements motivate by setting goals?
  7. Why are random loot drops so motivating?
  8. Why do people love really difficult games?
  9. How do we link game mechanics with game motivators/types?
  10. How is identity or other info signaled through showing off?
  11. Does deliberate practice make you better at games?
  12. Why do players grind?
  13. Does forcing players to take breaks do them (or anyone) any good?
  14. What effects do tutorials, instructions, or overbearing help have on how people play?
  15. How do leaders in MMOs influence their guildmates?
  16. How does social proof affect our perceptions of games?
  17. How do gamers form perceptions of justice and fairness?
  18. How does streaming affect how a game is played?
  19. How do hot/cold emotional states or arousal affect our decision-making in games?
  20. Does the history of an in-game object have an effect on how much we value it?
  21. How do sunk costs affect how we view and play games?
  22. How do our decision-making heuristics show up in games?
  23. Does the mere exposure effect soften our reaction to the Wii-U?
  24. How do leaderboards drive competition?
  25. How do group dynamics affect competition?
  26. What makes for a good AI teammate or opponent?
  27. What’s up with immersion / spatial presence in video games?
  28. How do games create fear, horror, anger, joy, or other specific emotions?
  29. Why do people cheat in games?
  30. How do you reduce toxic behavior and harassment?

Thanks so much and enjoy!

2 thoughts on “30 Questions About Games Psychologists Should Answer

  1. This has probably already been examined, but I would be very interested to know if the way players make moral choices in video games could be used to identify or predict future criminals. I know from experience playing modern video games that even though I am fully aware that my actions in a game have no impact on any living being, I am uncomfortable playing the role of the “bad guy” because I empathize with the characters in the game. What percentage of an “average” population would choose the “bad guy” path over the “good guy” path compared with a population of known violent offenders?

    If there is a significant difference in the percentages, could video games with certain moral choices or play style options be used as tools to warn psychologists of potentially dangerous future behavior? This would be a bit Orwellian if the subjects were not informed of the testing process, but otherwise, it would not be much different than other tests.

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