Episode 27: Mental Models

If you are an experienced gamer, you have seen that you can pick up a new game much more quickly than someone who doesn’t have as much gaming experience. Why is that? We discuss both the benefits and detriments of mental models in this podcast.

Game References

Boon, Briscola Chiamata, Cyberpunk 2077, Filler, Sheepshead

Research References

Gentner, D., & Stevens, A. L. (Eds.). (2014). Mental models. Psychology Press.

Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1983). Mental models: Towards a cognitive science of language, inference, and consciousness (No. 6). Harvard University Press.

Kaiser, M. K., McCloskey, M., & Proffitt, D. R. (1986). Development of intuitive theories of motion: Curvilinear motion in the absence of external forces. Developmental Psychology, 22(1), 67-71.

Meyer, D., Leventhal, H., & Gutmann, M. (1985). Common-sense models of illness: the example of hypertension. Health psychology4(2), 115-135.

Nussbaum, J. (1979). Children’s conceptions of the earth as a cosmic body: A cross age study. Science education63(1), 83-93.


Episode 26: To Switch or Not to Switch (but not that type of Switch)

Multi-tasking happens a lot. We’re in a meeting, we email. We watch TV, we text. And to the chagrin of many, we play a game with our friends, we scroll through social media. What does cognitive psychology have to say about doing multiple things at once?

Game References

Flux, Rise of Fenris, Scythe, Stay Cool, What Remains of Edith Finch

Research References


Caird, J. K., Johnston, K. A., Willness, C. R., Asbridge, M., & Steel, P. (2014). A meta-analysis of the effects of texting on driving. Accident Analysis & Prevention71, 311-318.

Pashler, H. (1994). Dual-task interference in simple tasks: data and theory. Psychological bulletin116(2), 220.

Grant, D. A., & Berg, E. (1948). A behavioral analysis of degree of reinforcement and ease of shifting to new responses in a Weigl-type card-sorting problem. Journal of experimental psychology38(4), 404.

Kanfer, R., Ackerman, P. L., Murtha, T. C., Dugdale, B., & Nelson, L. (1994). Goal setting, conditions of practice, and task performance: A resource allocation perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology79(6), 826.

Episode 25: Now That’s Deep!

We examine the concept of levels of processing in this episode, that if you process an experience more deeply, you will remember it better. This comes into play in many aspects of gaming, for both players and designers.

Game References

Fog of Love, What Remains of Edith Finch, When I Dream

Research References

Craik, F. I., & Lockhart, R. S. (1972). Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. Journal of verbal learning and verbal behavior11(6), 671-684.

Episode 24: Wingspan Cognalysis

Wingspan is a hot new boardgame that’s rocketing up the boardgamegeek’s rating chart. In this episode we take a look at some explanations of why so many people have become enamored with this game.

Game References


Research References

Greene, J. D., Sommerville, R. B., Nystrom, L. E., Darley, J. M., & Cohen, J. D. (2001). An fMRI investigation of emotional engagement in moral judgment. Science293(5537), 2105-2108.

Kahneman, D., & Egan, P. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Salamone, J. D., & Correa, M. (2012). The mysterious motivational functions of mesolimbic dopamine. Neuron76(3), 470-485.

Episode 23: Game, Mental Set, Match

Game players often get stuck, either not seeing how to properly use an object in the game or perhaps persisting in an inefficient strategy. I discuss two such mental sets, functional fixedness and Einstellung.

Game References

Burgle Bros, Defender, Go, Hanabi, Hoizon Zero Dawn, Overwatch, Root, Tetris

Mutilated Checkerboard:




Research References

Adamson, R. E. (1952). Functional fixedness as related to problem solving: A repetition of three experiments. Journal of experimental psychology44(4), 288-291.

Bard, N. and colleagues (draft). The Hanabi Challenge: A New Frontier for AI Research. Download at: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1902.00506.pdf

Duncker, K., & Lees, L. S. (1945). On problem-solving. Psychological monographs58(5).

Luchins, Abraham S. (1942). Mechanization in problem solving: The effect of Einstellung. Psychological Monographs54 (6): i–95.

Episode 22: The Amazing Declarative to Procedural Transition

Big changes happen in memory and knowledge as a person goes from beginner to expert. What does this entail for playing games? We take a close look at the two main types of memory, and how knowledge transitions between the two.

Game References

Marvel’s Spider-Man, Secret Cabal of Gaming

Research References

Anderson, J. R. (1996). ACT: A simple theory of complex cognition. American Psychologist51(4), 355.

Blessing, S. B. (1996). The use of prior knowledge in learning from examples (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.imsa.edu/alumni_dissertations/11

Crossman, E. R. F. W. (1959). A theory of the acquisition of speed-skill∗. Ergonomics2(2), 153-166.

Newell, A., & Rosenbloom, P. S. (1981). Mechanisms of skill acquisition and the law of practice. Cognitive skills and their acquisition1(1981), 1-55.

Episode 21: Anchors Aweigh!

How do we figure out how much something should cost or what the value of a thing should be? One decision-making heuristic process for this is anchoring and adjustment. Discover how this is used not only in game playing but in everyday life as well.

Game References

Modern Art, Power Grid, Wits and Wagers

Research References

Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science185(4157), 1124-1131.

Check out the charity auction!

If you got here from the link that Jamey Stegmaier posted in the Scythe Metal Mechs Special Edition Charity Auction on boardgamegeek, welcome! If you like podcasts about games or psychology, you have come to the right place! Let me know if you have questions!

If you are unaware of this auction, Cognitive Gamer is part of a charity auction on the popular boardgame site, boardgamegeek.com. You have from now till mid-day Saturday to bid on the new metal mechs upgrade for Scythe. All proceeds will benefit charities that the various bloggers/podcasters/etc. that Jamey has picked to highlight during the auction. You can check it out here! Whatever Cognitive Gamer raises will go to the Boston Children’s Hospital Trust. Thanks so much!

Episode 20: Building Minds with Scaffolding

I’m joined again by the resident developmental psychologist, where we talk about scaffolding, a learning technique where help and assistance are removed bit by bit until the full skill has been learned.

Game References

My Little Scythe, Scythe, Sleuth, Sushi Go, Ticket to Ride

Research References

Flavell, J. H. (1963). The Developmental Psychology of Jean Piaget. D Van Nostrand, Princeton, NJ.

Wertsch, J. V. (1985). Vygotsky and the Social Formation of Mind Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Episode 19: Decrypto and Codenames CG Cognalysis

I take a dive into Decrypto, comparing how clues are given in it versus in Codenames. Both the similarities and differences shed light into our cognitive processes and how items are stored in our memories. Spoiler alert: Bayes’ Theorem is discussed!

Game References

Codenames, Decrypto, Downforce, Monikers, Outburst, Secret Hitler, Taboo

Research References

Gallistel, C. R. (1992). Animal Cognition. MIT Press: Boston, MA.

Anderson, J. R. (1996). ACT: A simple theory of complex cognition. American Psychologist51(4), 355-365.