This is a thread to talk about psychology and videogames.
I've copypasted a book online. The book is called Mind At Play: The Psychology Of Video Games. It would take me 3 posts to contain all of it, so I decided to just save it as a file. (It is actually from an online database that does not allow you to save/download the book you are reading to your computer. So, I had to manually flip to each page copy-pasting everything--about 85 pages of doing this. It took me about 10 minutes to do.) To read it go here: http://www.sydlexia.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=16591
I am going to highlight important passages I found interesting in the next post. The reason I am posting about this book is that I may start using psychology terms in my video game reviews. I am curious what people think about that.
Here is the first chapter:
Our aim is to shed light on the intriguing phenomenon of video games. Along the way, we'll introduce some of the most farranging ideas in modern psychology and also provide an entrée to the world of computers, for the appeal of the games is largely psychological and video games owe their very existence to the computer revolution.
When we set out to write a book on the psychology of video games, we tried to adopt a relatively neutral stance. We read everything we could about the games. We went to video arcades to play the games and to talk to the owners, players, and onlookers. We talked to parents and critics. At the same time, we explored the contributions that research in psychology might provide for an understanding of the games.
After we had poked around for a while, some themes began to emerge. A major one was the computer theme: video games are fundamentally different from all other games in history because of the computer technology that underlies them. The marriage of games and computers has produced both costs and benefits. It enables, for example, the design of games that are extremely compelling to play. Critics would call the games addictive. Proponents would call them great fun.
A second theme involves ability. Playing a video game requires intricately tuned skills. How are these skills acquired? What are the mental components that go into them?
A final theme revolves around education. We believe that the games combine two ingredients—intrinsic motivation and computer-based interaction—that make them potentially the most powerful educational tools ever invented. We have discovered, much to our delight, a number of research projects that are striving to harness this educational power. Some are succeeding. More will succeed in the coming years.
While writing this book, we've had help from a variety of people who deserve special thanks. Craig Raglund provided a number of perceptive suggestions about the potential uses of video games in education. Hank Samson and Jim Diaz, who are much better players than we've yet become, engaged us in lively discussions about reinforcement. Ellen Markman, Delia Gerhardt, and Brian Wandell read and provided useful comments on early versions of several chapters. And, finally, there's no way to adequately thank Judy Greissman, our editor at Basic Books, who initiated the whole idea and who did a magnificent job shepherding it through all stages from start to finish.
CHAPTER 1: VIDEOMANIA
Venturing into a video arcade, you find a decidedly mixed crowd. To be sure, most players are "typical teenagers," who play the video games for at least a few hours every week. 1 But a not uncommon sight is the corporation executive, the housewife, the construction worker. According to one survey, about half the game players (in arcades and elsewhere) are over the age of twenty-six. 2
The economics of the video game craze are staggering. Each year more than $5 billion is spent in the video arcades alone. 3 And while the video parlor operators are busily collecting their quarters, microcomputer manufacturers are expected to make similarly large sums selling both home computers and the software to go with them. Advertisements for home computers in traditional publications describe the virtues of keeping the checkbook balanced, maintaining Christmas card lists, and teaching the children to program. However, by far the major use of home computers is for video games, and indeed the potential home video game market provided a major incentive for the development of many home computers in the first place. Six or seven years ago hardly any video games existed. But today arcade and home video games comprise an industry that has reached over $7 billion.
While questioning people in the course of preparing this book, we uncovered a wide range of feelings about the games, most of them quite passionate. A twenty-three-year-old computer engineer, David, was playing portable video games non‐ stop on a flight we shared with him. "What do you like about these games?" we asked. His answer was quite definite: "I think they're entertaining. They fascinate me. I can't believe I can hold something almost as small as a credit card that can play a game I haven't mastered. They're a challenge. What's most intriguing is that I know because of my work that there is a pattern to these games. And I haven't yet figured it out. But I keep getting closer. I keep getting better."
On the other hand, Glen, a twenty-five-year-old property manager, hates video games. He says just as definitely: "I get no satisfaction out of beating a machine!" And Jane, a thirty‐ eight-year-old management consultant, sees them as a soporific for teenagers, an aesthetic nightmare, and is adamant that they are no good at all for anything whatsoever. The opinions of public figures reflect this controversy. The U.S. Surgeon General, Everett Koop, decries video games, while Isaac Asimov, one of the most respected science writers in the United States, extolls their educational benefits. 4 Given these extreme differences of opinion, we find the job of trying to understand the video game explosion even more challenging.Figure 1.1 shows the "family tree" of video games. Their immediate parents were the digital computer and the arcade game. The computer side of this parentage will be traced in chapter 6; the arcade side, in chapter 4.Most games involve competition of one sort or another. But somewhere along the line, solitary games evolved, in which competition, if it even exists, is with yourself (for example, trying to top your previous best score) or with some abstract entity such as a deck of cards or a machine. Most video games are, or can be, solitary games. You play chiefly against the machine.
Three conceptual ingredients enter into the immediate background of video games:
1. Sound and fury. Flashing lights, bizarre noises, and continuously displayed, astronomical scores were incorporated in pinball machines. Often associated with sleazy bars and arcades and thought to be controlled by organized crime, nonetheless pinball machines managed to build up a mystique. They were colorful and gaudy. Presumably in an effort to give the illusion of variety, different games in an arcade represented an enormous variety of concepts, ranging from the Vietnam War to the Indianapolis 500 to the Playboy penthouse. However, all these games were virtually identical in terms of how they were played and what the goals were.
FIGURE 11 The family tree of video games.
2. Death and destruction. In the 1960s a new kind of game began to compete with pinball for arcade space. These games were usually automated in some fairly sophisticated way and usually involved violence of one sort or another. In Bomber Pilot, for example, the player, after inserting a quarter, was seemingly placed at the controls of a bomb-laden jet plane and presented with varying terrain passing below. The goal was to drop bombs on targets that would appear for a few seconds beneath the aircraft and then vanish. Points were awarded for successful hits, with the highest numbers of points being awarded for the destruction of high-density population areas, such as large cities, and strategic targets, such as enemy missile bases. The player was constantly under threat of enemy antiaircraft fire and therefore had to worry about taking evasive action as well as aiming the bombs. Like pinball, these arcade games were supplemented by exotic flashing lights, violent noises, and rapidly increasing scores, which were prominently displayed.
3. Computer control. In the 1970s another game arrived, unobtrusively, on the scene. This newcomer, Pong, differed from its predecessors in several ways. First, and most important, it was entirely under the control of a computer, and except for the player's joysticks, there were no moving parts. Everything was electronic. In a major way, Pong heralded the dawn of a new era.
Pong's second distinction was that it somehow acquired an immediate, broad social acceptance. It suddenly appeared in all sorts of places—in cocktail lounges, train stations, airliners— where no one would dream of putting either pinball or the death and destruction games. Although the reasons for this broad social acceptance are not entirely clear, it is interesting to speculate. First, size doubtless played a part. The older games, which used heavy mechanical parts, were large and difficult to transport (and were certainly not welcome in places like airplanes where size and weight are at a premium). Pong, with a computer at its heart, was much more mobile. Second, in the years following its introduction, Pong's price—along with the prices of all other computer-based goods—fell rapidly, and thus the game became widely available. In fact, in the mid-1970s versions of Pong—primitive by today's standards, but revolutionary then—began to find their way into individual households. And, finally, Pong's central theme was not the violence and kitsch of the previous arcade games. Instead, it mimicked the then-genteel racquet games such as tennis and squash. This feature may well have provided the lubrication necessary to ease the game into polite society.
For whatever reasons, Pong managed to escape from the smoky, seedy atmosphere of its pinball arcade predecessors, and it set the stage for the widespread status currently enjoyed by today's video games. As we have indicated, the computer basis of Pong, with its attendant implications for cost and mobility, was a critical ingredient of this transition. In chapter 6 we shall summarize the computer revolution and its critical role in the psychology of video games.
Throughout this book, we are going to take the theories and experiments of psychologists and use them to understand the video game phenomenon that has sent many children into video arcades and many parents into fits of nervousness. When the surgeon general marches through the country crying, in essence, "Warning. Video games may be hazardous to your children's health," should we believe him? Dr. Koop has argued that there is nothing constructive about the games and that in fact they may be teaching children to kill and destroy since that's what most of the games are about. In this book, however, we'll take the position that his fear may be completely unwarranted. Video games, at least in some form, are going to be with us for quite some time, and it is important to analyze dispassionately their psychological costs and their benefits. We should not ban video games without a deep and thoughtful analysis, any more than we should ban hopscotch or Monopoly.
When people ask "What good are these games, anyhow?" the suggestion is often heard that they have a direct benefit of increasing some skill like eye-hand coordination. But so do many activities, such as baseball and sewing. What are not usually considered are the indirect benefits that video games can and do yield. These can be quite unexpected and enormously powerful. We refer to such benefits as the creation of an intense interest in computers, which has led many of the game players of the early 1980s to jobs as computer programmers with major corporations. We interviewed one such man, Greg, who at the age of twenty-three had landed a programming job with a growing software company just south of San Francisco. Greg spends his days writing computer programs and claims he's happier than he has ever been in his life. Five years earlier, Greg's parents worried that he was spending too much time playing video games. They thought he might be "addicted" to the games the way other kids seemed to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Now—five years later—they take tremendous pride in their son's work. They have come to realize that the games were the start of his intense interest in computers that led to his career.
What was it about video games that Greg found so appealing? Why was he willing to forgo sporting events and trips to the beach to spend time in video arcades? To address such questions, we now draw upon the field of psychology.
Last edited by vert1 (Dec 11, 2011)
Reinforcement-the provision for you of something that you like.
Schedule of reinforcement (aka partial reinforcement)—reinforcement is intermittent rather than continuous.
Extinction-decline and eventual cessation of behavior in the absence of reinforcement
Extinction period-the length of time it takes for the behavior to cease or extinguish.
Magnitude of Reinforcement-reward
Delay of Reinforcement
Cognitive Dissonance-paradoxical types of behavior.
Cognitive Dissonance Theory-theory assumes that when a person performs acts or holds beliefs that are in conflict with one another, the person will act so as to reduce the conflict.
Saccade-(French for "jerk" or "jolt") which is a quick jump of the eye from one place to another.
Fixations-periods in between saccades during which the eye is relatively stationary.
Motor Performance-the motor system, the part of the mind responsible for initiating muscle movements. The sort of skilled movement required for video games is called motor performance.
Skill-a precise, finely tuned sequence of muscle movements, usually designed to achieve a very specific goal. In general, a skill is carried out in conjunction with feedback from the sensory system.
Eye-hand coordination-the ability to perform an appropriate sequence of motor skills in response to a particular sequence of information entering the visual system from the environment.
There are three major aspects of a problem-solving situation: (i) the original state, (2) the goal state, and (3) the rules.
Chunk-anything stored in long-term memory as a unitary whole. For instance, the letter string MGAE is perceived as four separate letters—four chunks. But the same letters presented as GAME are perceived as one word —one chunk. The fewer the chunks you have to process in order to accomplish some task, the more efficiently the task can be done.
Last edited by vert1 (Sep 20, 2011)
So the psychology is outdated? It's not.
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/2991 … _Games.php
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2 … _games.php
Using the word 'outdated' to write off the article is insulting. There is a notion on the internet that anything new is of more value than something old simply because it is new. If there is a current article or book that is more in-depth about psychology of videogames that is something I would like to get posted in this thread.
The thread is about the discussion of psychology relating to videogames. It is not limited to a time period. The psychological hooks one gets from playing these 80s games have not changed with modern gaming.
Last edited by vert1 (Dec 11, 2011)
I got similar response in another thread. When you post something like that I can only interpret that you are blowing off the article because of the time period it took place in and missing out on the whole point of this topic: a discussion of psychology relating to videogames. The psychological hooks one gets from playing these 80s games have not changed with modern gaming. They just haven't.
You know, I'm not saying Amazingu needs to be defended, but the tone of this response is so condescending that I think you need to be called out on it. Just because you didn't get the response you wanted or the topic isn't going in the direction you want it to doesn't mean his post is uninformed, it just means he doesn't feel it's necessary to write a book to express his opinion. Using more words to express a viewpoint doesn't always make it more valid or welcome.
Ashley Winchester wrote:
You know, I'm not saying Amazingu needs to be defended, but the tone of this response is so condescending that I think you need to be called out on it.
It's only condescending because I put effort into making a thread and someone wrongly claims that what I put up for everyone to see is "outdated"; as in, not relevant anymore.
Just because you didn't get the response you wanted or the topic isn't going in the direction you want it to doesn't mean his post is uninformed, it just means he doesn't feel it's necessary to write a book to express his opinion. Using more words to express a viewpoint doesn't always make it more valid or welcome.
Amazingu doesn't have to express his opinion by writing a book, but it would be nice if he showed more tact in his responses.
Last edited by vert1 (Dec 11, 2011)
Not to be condescending myself but your response only reaffirms my current view of the situation.
Additionally, and I'm not trying to kiss ass, but I really like what Amazingu adds to the conversation at times. I know people can see what he writes as negative and inflexible at times, but I like that's he's willing to play the bad guy (devil's advocate) here and there. I think everyone could benefit from doing that themselves every once in awhile. Sometimes you just got to be really, really blunt with your thoughts and I can respect that.
Amazingu doesn't have to express his opinion by writing a book, but it would be nice if he showed more tact in his responses.
I'll start showing more tact when you stop being a condescending asshole, okay?
I don't often get angry at people on the Internet because of how ridiculously pointless that is, but WOW man, do you EVER know how to rub me the wrong way with pretty much EVERYTHING you post.
From the general responses on this board, I have the feeling I'm not alone in this.
You have the tendency to behave like a school teacher, kindly taking your time out to try and teach us lowly folk something about your brilliant theories, which, amazingly, are always completely right and anyone who disagrees must be a bit of a retard, yes?
You "reserve" posts (I'm disgusted that that is actually a thing. Do you tell people in real life NOT to talk because the first 5 comments should be made by you?) and you tell people to stay on topic as soon as 1 person says something slightly unrelated, and apparently you don't think that's kind of douchy at all.
Let things flow normally, man, don't goddamn try to regulate everything that happens on a tiny Internet forum.
On topic: I recently read a book on game design that was released in 2006 (21st Century Game Design by Chris Bateman). 5 years old, but it already was amazingly outdated because it did not know of the Wii, of social gaming and of iPhone apps.
Which is not to say it is worthless (that is a word you have been putting in my mouth for some reason), on the contrary, it was amazingly interesting and informative, but it does mean that there are some important things it doesn't cover, which is a bit of a shame, but of course no fault of its own, and that, as a result, it is not the definitive piece of work you might want to read about game design right now.
And this is merely what I was trying to say.
The article you mentioned was interesting, I said as much (seriously, look at my original post and tell me where it says "worthless"), but I don't see why, if I want to read about the psychology of video games, I should read an article written in the early 80s, when I can just as easily read something that is going to be more extensive and inclusive. Again, not WORTHLESS, just not what I am looking for.
Even if you say the psychology hasn't changed at all (and I SEVERELY doubt it hasn't in 25 years), the fact is that its object of study has changed tremendously, and that, therefore, it requires more extensive research NOW, even if the original article was perfect for its time (and I never said it wasn't!).
So in summary: IT IS A GOOD ARTICLE, STOP GODDAMN TELLING ME I EVER SAID OTHERWISE, but I would like to read something more up-to-date, thank you.
http://www.ted.com/talks/gabe_zicherman … arter.html
This video mentions something called Fluid Intelligence in relations to gaming. Weird and interesting. Will have to watch it in full later.
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/obs … ise-video/
Ugh. Another long article I need to read. I don't like posting things without describing it to people on what was cool about it. But here it is anyhow.
Jeff Ryan wrote:
Modern pinball offered basically no correlation between what you do (pull a plunger) and the “reward” of a hundred buzzers and doodads making a racket. Its addiction quotient was low. Space Invaders offered a regular reward schedule: ten, twenty, or forty points per ship hit. Its addiction quotient was high. Donkey Kong had an irregular reward schedule, since what earned you points changed each level, and you could also score points by speed. Like a slot machine with the slightest house advantage, this was a formula for a stratospherically addicting game, one in which either your skill or your luck may make all the difference next game. That is, until you were out of quarters.
Pop psychology would saw that while most every other game offered a way to destroy, and Pac-Man offered a way to escape, Donkey Kong offered a way to rescue. That didn’t affect the mimetics of the game play, but it certainly changed the motivation of the players; a girl’s life was at stake here!
page 31 and page 35 from Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America