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The Psychology of Video Games Podcast

Examining the intersection of psychology and video games to understand how games shapes our behavior, manipulates our beliefs, and rigs our purchasing decisions.
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The Psychology of Video Games Podcast
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Aug 15, 2016

Habits --behaviors we do without thinking about them-- are very powerful forces in our lives. And many products like mobile games are designed specifically to create and maintain habits. In this episode I talk to Nir Eyal about how habits are formed, how they're broken, and a variety of other related topics. Oh yeah, and we talk a lot about Pokemon Go.

About the podcast:

 Audio Credits:

Jul 17, 2016

I talk to Lennart Nacke from the University of Waterloo about the research he has done around psychophysiology --the physiological basis of psychological phenomena. We discuss how various physiological processes like breathing, heart rate, eye movement, and more can be used by video games to create new experiences. And what we can expect from this kind of technology in the future. It's actually kind of surprising how far along this stuff is. 

About the podcast:

Audio Credits

Jun 20, 2016

In this episode I talk with Karl Kapp about what video gams have in common with effective classrooms, training, or other learning environments and why an over reliance on "points, badges, and leaderboards" isn't a good idea.

 

About the podcast:

Audio Credits

Jun 6, 2016

In this episode I talk with Rachel Kowert about friendships and other relationships formed in online games. Can these kinds of friendships substitute for offline relationships? Are they better or worse in some ways?

About the podcast:

Audio Credits

May 15, 2016

In this episode I talk with Ben Lewis Evans, a psychologist and UX researcher at Epic Games, about simulation sickness and virtual reality. We talk about what causes it and what limitations hardware and game designers have to design around in order to avoid it. 

 

Audio credits:

 

Apr 15, 2016

Hey. I've got a question for you: Why do you play games?

 

That's going to be the topic of discussion in this episode of the podcast, with my guest Dr. Nick Yee from Quantic Foundry.  He's going to share some research that he and his colleagues have been doing around player types, gaming motivations, and personality types. Maybe you'll learn something about what makes your gamer soul tick. 

 

 

Audio Credits

Mar 14, 2016

Ever used video games to blow off some steam and recover from a hard day at work or school?  Psychologists who study stress and how we recover from it have noted that certain activities are better than others for helping us recharge our reserves and getting over stressful events. Now, some psychologists --such as Dr. Emily Collins, my guest on this episode-- are looking at how video games may be super effective at helping us recover from stress. And how some genres or types of games may do it better than others.

 

More about the podcast here:

http://www.psychologyofgames.com/podcast/

 

Subscribe in iTunes here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/psychology-video-games-podcast/id976468994

 

Audio Credits

 

“Robot Motivation” by The Polish Ambassador, licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://freemusicarchive.org/music/The_Polish_Ambassador/Diplomatic_Immunity/05_Robot_Motivation

 

"Monkeys Spinning Monkeys" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://incompetech.com/wordpress/2014/02/monkeys-spinning-monkeys/

Feb 15, 2016

Does controlling or experiencing violence in video games cause violence, aggression, or other acts of malice outside of the game? This is the main question that I discuss with my guest this episode, Christopher J. Ferguson, Ph.D. He is a prolific researcher and commentator on the topic of video game violence, and he shares his thoughts about the state of the research and whether or not we should be worried about letting kids watch violent TV or games.

Plus, we have a side conversation into the topic of misogyny and other stereotyping in video game culture and whether being exposed to those elements is equivalent to seeing or controlling video game violence.

 

More about the podcast here:

http://www.psychologyofgames.com/podcast/

 

Subscribe in iTunes here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/psychology-video-games-podcast/id976468994

 

More about Christopher J. Furgeson's research:

http://www.stetson.edu/other/faculty/profiles/christopher-ferguson.php

 

Audio Credits

 

“Robot Motivation” by The Polish Ambassador, licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://freemusicarchive.org/music/The_Polish_Ambassador/Diplomatic_Immunity/05_Robot_Motivation

 

"Happy Happy Game Show" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://incompetech.com/wordpress/2016/01/happy-happy-game-show/

 

"Level Up!" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://incompetech.com/wordpress/2015/03/level-up/

 

"Over Under" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100871

Jan 18, 2016

I admit it: I'm turning into my parents. When I was a kid I played a lot of games, and they had concerns about how it was affecting my physical and mental health. My mom and dad thought it would wreck my attention span, stunt my social skills, and make me generally unhealthy. As a result, I was made to go outside, play with friends, and get fresh air. Now that I have kids of my own, I can't just stand by and let them play as much as they sometimes want to.

But a lot about video games and technology has changed in the time since I was a kid myself. And a lot of research has been done on how video games --and media in general-- affect our physical and mental health. In fact, many games are now being designed specifically to promote health.

My guest this week is Dr. Cheryl K. Olson, the co-founder for the Center for Mental Health and Media at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She's an expert on how media can affect our health --and how it can be used deliberately to benefit health. That includes both physical and mental health.

More about the podcast here:
http://www.psychologyofgames.com/podcast/

Subscribe in iTunes here:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/psychology-video-games-podcast/id976468994

Music and Audio Credits:

"Carnival Intrigue" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/
http://incompetech.com/wordpress/2015/04/carnival-intrigue/

“Robot Motivation” by The Polish Ambassador, licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/The_Polish_Ambassador/Diplomatic_Immunity/05_Robot_Motivation

Animal Jam "Jamaa Township" captured from the Animal Jam website
http://www.animaljam.com/

Zombies, Run! audio captured from the app
https://zombiesrungame.com/

"Unwritten Return" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/
http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1500037

"Winner, Winner!" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/
http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1400036

 

Dec 16, 2015

In this episode I talk to Dr. C. Shawn Green about whether or not video games can make us smarter or improve certain mental and perceptual skills. And not just those brain training games --we're talking about mainstream action games that most of us play.

More about the podcast here:
http://www.psychologyofgames.com/podcast/

Subscribe in iTunes here:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/psychology-video-games-podcast/id976468994

Audio Credits:

“Robot Motivation” by The Polish Ambassador, licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/The_Polish_Ambassador/Diplomatic_Immunity/05_Robot_Motivation

"Unwritten Return" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/
http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1500037

"Carnival Intrigue" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/
http://incompetech.com/wordpress/2015/04/carnival-intrigue/

Nov 16, 2015

In this episode I talk to Dr. Nick Bowman about how video games differ from other media in terms of the demands they place on players and thus how our approaches to studying them should differ. It turns out that video games ARE special and something new.

More about the podcast here:

http://www.psychologyofgames.com/podcast/

 

Subscribe in iTunes here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/psychology-video-games-podcast/id976468994

 

AUDIO CREDITS:

 

"Robot Motivation" by The Polish Ambassador, licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://freemusicarchive.org/music/The_Polish_Ambassador/Diplomatic_Immunity/05_Robot_Motivation

 

"Hyperfun" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1400038

 

"Iron Horse" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100735

 

"Unwritten Return

by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://incompetech.com/wordpress/2015/06/unwritten-return/

Oct 12, 2015

I talk to researcher Niels van de Ven about how envy can drive us to make in-game purchases and microtransactions, as well as what effect such purchases have on what we think of other players. What happens if you pay to win while I grind it out?

 

More about the podcast here:

http://www.psychologyofgames.com/podcast/

 

Subscribe in iTunes here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/psychology-video-games-podcast/id976468994

 

AUDIO CREDITS:

 

"Robot Motivation" by The Polish Ambassador, licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://freemusicarchive.org/music/The_Polish_Ambassador/Diplomatic_Immunity/05_Robot_Motivation

 

"Shiny Tech" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=usuan1100078

 

"Unwritten Return" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://incompetech.com/wordpress/2015/06/unwritten-return/

 

"Winner Winner!"

by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/

http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1400036

 

AUDIO CLIPS:

 

Giant Bombcast 7/28/15

http://www.giantbomb.com/podcasts/giant-bombcast-07282015/1600-1300/

Sep 14, 2015

I talk to Rachel Kowert and Throston Quandt about their new book on the the many debates surrounding video games as the scientific study of games.

 

Kowert & Quandt's book, "The Video Game Debate"

 

More about the podcast here:

http://www.psychologyofgames.com/..

 

Subscribe in iTunes here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podca..

 

Audio Credits:

 

“Robot Motivation” by The Polish Ambassador, licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licens..

http://freemusicarchive.org/music..

 

"As I Figure" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licens..

http://incompetech.com/music/roya..

 

"Carnival Intrigue" by Kevin MacLeod Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

http://creativecommons.org/licens..

http://incompetech.com/wordpress/..

 

Aug 17, 2015

User Experience ("UX" for short) is one of those disciplines in the gaming industry often tied to psychology. And given how it's interested in understanding and quantifying the experiences of the people who play video games, interact with hardware, and navigate through menus, it's easy to see how an understanding of attention, perception, cognition, mental heuristics, learning, and memory can help UX researchers do their jobs.

In this episode I talk to Celia Hodent, the Director of User Experience at Epic Games and a psychology Ph.D. Hodent and her team help Epic make sure that its customers have the experiences that its game designers envision, and in this podcast she explains how an understanding of psychology, knowledge of research methods, and experience in data management help her do that. She also shares some advice for anyone interested in getting into this line of work.

Thanks also to Caryn Vainio, who set the stage for what UX is and why it matters. <a href="http://www.carynvainio.com/">Check out her portfolio and website.</a>

 

Info on this week's guests:

 

Audio Credits:

Jul 15, 2015

Playing with and against other humans is great in many ways (and not so great in others) but the fact is that gamers spend a lot of time interacting with computer-controlled agents. Enemies, shopkeeers, quest givers, teammates, other NPCs --they can all be controlled by a game's artificial intelligence. AI has come a long, long way thanks to advances in the field and increased processing power on our gaming hardware, but some games are still better than others at making us feel that an NPC or enemy bot is acting like a human.

But to make something inhuman act human, you have to know something about how our fleshy meat brains work. You have to know a thing or two about human psychology. Humans don't always act rationally. They take social information like reputation into account when dealing with people. They use mental shortcuts in their decision making that produce weird results. Their perception of a scene can be affected by their attentional resources and the contextual baggage their puny minds bring with them. Can you teach a computer to emulate all that?

My guest on this episode of the podcast thinks so. His name is David Mark and he's an expert on developing AI for video games. Mark has also made it a point of studying psychology and applying its lessons to creating AI that seems human if you're willing to suspend a bit of disbelief.

Audio Credits:

Jun 15, 2015

I think most of us have been there: we join an online multiplayer game and suddenly someone is screaming all kinds of nasty things at us, telling us to die in a fire, or spamming us with some hateful string of letters or another. This sort of toxic behavior is particularly bad in some parts of the gaming scene, and it has always struck me as weird. Why are we so willing to bully, harass, and jeer at people in ways that we would never consider doing in real life?

And perhaps a more interesting question to go along with that one is, what can game developers do about it?

My guest for this episode of the podcast is Dr. Jeffrey Lin, who heads up the Player Behavior Team at Riot Software. That's the company that makes and manages League of Legends, one of the 800 pound gorillas in the MOBA genre. MOBAs, along with some first person shooters and fighting games, are sometimes infamous for the toxic behavior of their players. And regardless of the extent to which that reputation is deserved or not, Lin and his colleagues are determined to improve the sportsmanship displayed in the <i>League of Legends</i> community. 

What's cool is that the approaches and methods used by the Player Behavior Team are firmly rooted in some very basic (and some not so basic) theories of human psychology. In this episode we'll hear all about them and how they can benefit not just League players, but all the denizens of the Internet.

Music: Robot Motivation by The Polish Ambassador, licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

 

May 18, 2015

Ever just get "in the zone" with a video game? Like it just clicks with you and it's challenging enough to hold your interest but not too difficult as to get frustrating? This is a mental state called psychological flow, and it's been studied in work, sports, and all kinds of play including video games.

Game developers often design with flow in mind, and getting players to that state is usually seen as the halmark of good game design. It usually involves getting dialing in just the right amount of challenge, making sure players know what they need to do, giving them clear feedback, and a few other things. But recently some researchers have begun to take an interest in how group dynamics and collaborative (or competitive) situations within groups affects flow. Do the rules change when groups are involved?  This, along with psychological flow in general, will be the topic of this podcast episode, along with our expert Dr. Linda Kaye, a Senior Lecturer in the department of Psychology at Edge Hill University in the United Kingdom. She has studied flow in games and started probing into the topic of group flow.

My Patron supporters got this podcast days early. <a href="https://www.patreon.com/pog">Support me on Patron</a> to get early access next time. 

Info on this week's guest:

Audio credits

Apr 14, 2015

Ever wondered how one gets into the field of video game psychology? Is there even such a field, really? In many ways Dr. Nick Yee is the answer to both those questions. He has a background in psychology and experimental design and he has published several articles in refereed scientific journals. He has also written a book about the psychology behind how video game avatars shape our behaviors. All along the way, Yee has managed to blend these interests in psychology with his expertise in computer science and a love of video games to do some pretty interesting things. In many ways he is a great example of how one can merge the worlds of psychology and video games. In this podcast episode Yee will explain how he turned that combination of interests into a job with big time game publisher Ubisoft, where he and longtime research partner Nic Ducheneaut applied social science theory and research methods to game design. Now they are setting out on their own venture to do the same for others in the gaming industry, and Yee will tell us all about it. 

Yee and I also talk extensively about how gaming companies are using data to track every little thing players are doing and how that information can be used to make games better. More to the point, we talk about privacy, ethics, and what role psychologists can (and should) play in this era of big data. How often are their skills and aptidutes are being put to good use in the gaming industry? Just how much does the training psychologists receive contribute to big game data analytics?

Hope you all enjoy this one. Again, please leave a review and rating on the <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/psychology-video-games-podcast/id976468994">iTunes page</a> or your other podcast service of choice. This is the biggest thing you can do right now to help me out.

 

Info on this week's guest:

 

Audio Credits:

 

Visit www.psychologyofgames.com for more on the overlap between psychology and video games.

Mar 13, 2015

Text. Pfft. Text is dead, am I right? Voice without video, THAT'S the future.

Given that, I've decided to dip into the world of podcasting and have recorded my first episode. I talked to Dr. Andrew Przybylski from Oxford University about research that he and his colleagues have done on video game violence, frustration, aggression, and motivation. Specifically around some additional questions and research topics that psychologists should be investigating around aggression and games. We also talk about how game designers and community managers might use this research to make players feel less frustrated and angry in certain circumstances.

I'll update this post once the podcast is searchable in iTunes, but here are some links:

The podcast RSS feed

A direct download link to Episode 1

 

And if you want to listen to the podcast RIGHT NOW, click the play button below.

 

This is my first attempt at podcasting and I've already learned a lot making just this one episode. But I also want to hear your feedback and suggestions. Just head over to the Contact page and shoot me a note. Likewise, if you're a researcher or someone with a psychology background working in the gaming industry, let me know if you'd like to be a guest! It's a great way to share what you've been working on with interested listeners. I'm aiming to post a new podcast every month.

 

Finally, I hear you like links. Here are some links relevant to this episode.

 

Info on this week's guest:

Info on Dr. Przybylski and his publications

His Twitter feed

The Oxford Internet Institute

A pdf copy of the paper we discuss</a> Przybylski, A., Deci, E., Rigby, C., & Ryan, R. (2014). Competence-Impeding Electronic Games and Players’ Aggressive Feelings, Thoughts, and Behaviors. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(3), 441-457.

 

Audio credits

Music: Robot Motivation by The Polish Ambassador, licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

"No Russian" level in CoD 2: YouTube user oOoInStInCtoOo

GTA 5 interrogation scene: YouTube user MrGlennDK

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