Episode 31: I Think I Know What You Know

Show Notes

When playing games, we find it useful to consider what other players know, and how that affects game play. Psychologists study theory of mind, our concept of what other people know. Dr. Jennifer Blessing and I discuss how this relates to playing games.

Game References

Apples to Apples, Cards Against Humanity, Chess, Codenames, Decrypto, Kemet, Scythe, Sheriff of Nottingham, Taboo

Research References

Baron-Cohen, S., Leslie, A. M., & Frith, U. (1985). Does the autistic child have a “theory of mind”. Cognition21(1), 37-46.

Premack, D., & Woodruff, G. (1978). Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?. Behavioral and brain sciences1(4), 515-526.

Episode 30: The Invisible Boardgame

I ruminate on playing games online and how that relates to both game and interface design, as well as how humans experience emotion. This has ties to me planning to teach my Cognition of Game Playing as an online class this coming summer term.

Game References



Research References

Lang, P. J. (1994). The varieties of emotional experience: a meditation on James-Lange theory. Psychological review101(2), 211.

Norman, D. A. (1999). The invisible computer: why good products can fail, the personal computer is so complex, and information appliances are the solution. MIT press.

Episode 29: This is Like That: The Importance of Analogies

In talking about a game, we almost always make references to past games in order to describe or teach the new game. What does cognitive psychology have to say about analogy use, in terms of how prevalent and useful it really is?

Game References

Aeon’s End, Clank, Dominion, Paperback, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Research References

Dunbar, K., & Blanchette, I. (2001). The in vivo/in vitro approach to cognition: The case of analogy. Trends in cognitive sciences, 5(8), 334-339.

Gick, M. L., & Holyoak, K. J. (1980). Analogical problem solving. Cognitive psychology, 12(3), 306-355.

Gick, M. L., & Holyoak, K. J. (1983). Schema induction and analogical transfer. Cognitive psychology, 15(1), 1-38.

Reed, S. K., & Bolstad, C. A. (1991). Use of examples and procedures in problem solving. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition17(4), 753.

Ross, B. H. (1984). Remindings and their effects in learning a cognitive skill. Cognitive psychology16(3), 371-416.

Episode 28: From Novice to Expert in One Easy Step

What happens, cognitively speaking, as we move from novice to expert in a game? The episode examines changes in memory and strategy as people gain experience not only games, but in other mental and physical activities as well.

Game References

Chess, Incan Gold

Research References

Bloom, B. S., & Sosniak, L. A. (1985). Developing talent in young people. Ballantine Books.

Chase, W. G., & Simon, H. A. (1973). Perception in chess. Cognitive Psychology, 4, 55-81.

Chi, M. T., Feltovich, P. J., & Glaser, R. (1981). Categorization and representation of physics problems by experts and novices. Cognitive science5(2), 121-152.

Ericcson, K. A., Chase, W. G., & Faloon, S. (1980). Acquisition of a memory skill. Science208(4448), 1181-1182.

Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The Story of Success. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

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.