Five Recent Con Panels on the Psychology of Games

In the last year there have been some great panels by my colleagues about the psychology of video games. They’ve been featured at huge conventions like Game Developer’s Conference, PAX, and South by Southwest Gaming. They’ve covered topics like gaming motivation, nostalgia, and the state of debate around video game research, as well as the psychology of specific franchises like Final Fantasy and the Legend of Zelda.

Fortunately for you, several of those were also recorded and made available for free viewing, so I’ve collected five of them here in this post for your pleasure and education. Enjoy!

From PAX East 2019: The Psychology of the Final Fantasy Series

Anyone who has played Final Fantasy understands that the plots are full of twists and turns. The complex characters, gut-wrenching narrative, and the personal struggle of the characters make it a game to relate to. This panel will focus on unpacking these concepts and why this series continues to draw so many people to playing it’s immersive experiences. Topics include mental health representation, theoretical concepts, and why we love this game so much.

Presenters: Dr. Anthony Bean [Executive Director/Clinical Psychologist, The Telos Project], Dr. Rachel Kowert [Research Director,], Dr. Shane Tilton [Assistant Professor, Ohio Northern University], Dr. Stephen Daniel [Assistant Professor, Appalachian State University], Dr. Steph Orme [Adjunct Professor, Emerson College]

From PAX South 2019: The Video Game Debate

Do violent video games lead to violent behavior? Can games help us learn? Are our online friends, really our friends? When it comes to video games, these are often the types of questions raised by popular media, policy makers, and the general public. In this panel, international experts review the latest research findings in the field of digital game studies and weigh in on the actual physical, social, and psychological effects of video games.

Panelists: @TheeDoctorB [Clinical Director of], @XsarahdactylX [Co-Owner/Lead Clinician, Save Point Behavioral Health], @DrKowert [Research Director, ], @VideoGameDoc [Executive Director, The Telos Project], @DrRKelly [Co-founder, G33ks Like Us], @jess_tompkins_ [Analyist, Bethesda Softworks], @FusRoDoc [Assistant Professor, Appalachian State University]

From PAX East 2019: Remaking or Reinventing Games? The Science Behind Nostalgia

We hear the term “nostalgia” and “remakes” quite a bit in gaming and the entertainment industry. But why are we so attached to the psychology of past positive emotions? And why do remakes tend to violate our expectations of those previous memories? Our panel and panelists will discuss the importance of nostalgia, how it can be used negatively and positively, and how we can use nostalgia and push games forward.

Panelists: Dr. Emory Daniel (@FusRoDoc) [Assistant Professor, Appalachian State University], Dr. Anthony Bean (@VideoGameDoc) [Executive Director, The Telos Project], Dr. Sarah Hays (@XsarahdactylX) [Co-Owner/Lead Clinician, Save Point Behavioral Health], Dr. Shane Tilton (@silnan) [Assistant Professor, Ohio Northern University], Dr. Ryan Kelly (@DrRKelly) [Clinical Psychologist, Southeastern Psych], Dr. Rachel Kowert (@drkowert) [Research Director, ]

From SXSW Gaming 2019: The Psychology Of The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda franchise has immersed players in a courageous struggle against the forces of evil for three whole decades and across 30 different games. Surprisingly, throughout all these years, the powerful psychology of this game continues to allow players to assess many varying mental health conditions and to overcome emotional trauma. From Dark Link to being an orphan, panelists discuss the varying psychological importance of why this game series Links up so well with our psyches.

Panelists: Dr. Anthony Bean (@VideoGameDoc) [Executive Director, The Telos Project], Dr. Emory Daniel (@FusRoDoc) [Assistant Professor, Appalachian State University], Dr. Rachel Kowert (@drkowert) [Research Director,], Dr. Shane Tilton (@silnan) [Assistant Professor, Ohio Northern University].

From GDC 2019: A Deep Dive into the 12 Motivations – Findings from 400,000+ Gamers

This is a data-driven talk based on survey data from 400,000+ gamers. Quantic Foundry’s Co-founder and Analytics Lead, Nick Yee, will take a deep dive into each of the 12 motivations in the Gamer Motivation Model to 1) describe their psychological underpinnings, 2) identify specific game mechanics/features they are linked to, 3) provide specific game examples along the spectrum of the motivation, and 4) surface idiosyncratic aspects of the motivation (e.g. gamers in China are much more driven by this motivation).

Presenter: Dr. Nick Yee (@Nick_Yee) [Founder, Quantic Foundry]

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