game psychology

Exploring the psychology behind losses, gains, and grouping results in video games

Getting five batches of 100 gold feels better than one batch of 500 gold, and being forced to spend three separate 100 gold fees feels worse than one 300 gold fee. And that fee is likely to make all that 500 gold not feel like it mattered. You probably know all of that just from experience, but perhaps you’d like to see it in action with a new piece from the Psychology of Video Games blog discussing how grouping results (or intentionally not doing so) produces a different valuation of rewards.

To summarize quickly, we tend to prioritize losses as more important than gains, so losing 100 gold has a bigger impact than gaining 100 gold in our brains. However, both losses and gains have a certain point where we stop noticing them, so losing 1500 gold doesn’t feel much worse than losing 1300 gold. Thus, from a psychological standpoint, it makes sense to have losses come in big chunks and rewards come in several smaller chunks, so that each individual good thing gets evaluated separately while the bad stuff gets shuffled off faster. Read through the whole piece for a more thorough overview of why it works; it’s pretty interesting.

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Exploring ‘The Video Game Debate’: Cognitive performance and your brain on games

So far in our exploration of the topics in Rachel Kowert and Thorsten Quandt’s book The Video Game Debate: Unravelling the Physical, Social, and Psychological Effects of Video Games, we’ve tackled the state of modern game research, online games and internet addiction, moral panic and online griefing, and the role of games in education (and vice versa). Today, we’ll focus on video games and cognitive performance — your brain on games!

I was recently reminded that for a long time gaming was identified as something that could, at minimum, be used to master reaction times. In 1982, Chevy Chase of all people actually highlighted both the potential and fear of the power of games in terms of their impact on cognitive performance.

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New research illuminates our gaming motivations

If you’ve ever thought that the Bartle test was a bit outdated, game analytics consulting firm Quantic Foundry has a new gamer psych chart for you. This past week, it released its Gamer Motivation Model, which groups gamer types into three “clusters of motivations” joined by “discovery” and “power” bridges.

In the bottom-right orange cluster, there’s an Action-Social cluster that combines the interest in fast-paced gameplay with player interaction.
In the left yellow cluster, there’s an Immersion-Creativity cluster that combines the interest in narrative, expression, and world exploration.
In the top blue clusters, there’s a Mastery-Achievement cluster that combines the appeal of strategic gameplay, taking on challenges, and becoming powerful.

The company is planning to release more data in the coming months, so stay tuned if the science of why we game the way we do interests you, and go take the test yourself if you’re so inclined.

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Exploring ‘The Video Game Debate’: Online games and internet addiction

Massively OP’s overview of Rachel Kowert and Thorsten Quandt’s book The Video Game Debate last month was just the beginning of our coverage of the topics contained within it. I advised MMO players and writers to pick up the book and read it for themselves, but for those who don’t, today I’ll break down some of the ideas expressed in various chapters of the book and try to relate them to the world of MMOs specifically.

We’ll be starting with chapter five by Mark D. Griffiths. The topic? Gaming and internet addiction.

Image attribution: Damien du Toit

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