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.

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.

Episode 18: Attributions are Fundamental

We are constantly explaining to ourselves why events happen. When those explanations involve linking the outcome of an event with our response, a psychologist would refer to them as an attribution. We explore how attributions affect our game playing.

Game References

Azul, Diplomacy, DOTA 2, God of War, Journal 29, Overwatch, Sagrada, Star Wars Destiny, The Witness

Research References

Heider, F. (1944). Social perception and phenomenal causality. Psychological Review51(6), 358.

Ross, L. (1977). The Intuitive Psychologist And His Shortcomings: Distortions in the Attribution Process1. In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 10, pp. 173-220). Academic Press.

Weiner, B. (1972). Attribution theory, achievement motivation, and the educational process. Review of Educational Research42(2), 203-215.

Episode 17: Represent!

The representativeness heuristic is another rule-of-thumb that we use when we need to make a decision. We apply it when we decide an event is likely to happen if it resembles, or is representative, of the category from which it belongs.

Game References

Assassins Creed, Dungeons and Dragons, El Grande, God of War, Incan Gold, Last of Us, Lords of Hellas, Risk, Rising Sun, Small World, Watch Dogs

Research References

Englestein, G. GameTek Classic 163 – Theme, Mechanics, Experience


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

Episode 16: Virtual Gaming

Virtual reality adds new dimensions to games. Psychology informs us of the issues on what goes on in a virtual environment. Join the discussion as we hit some of the big topics in this new way to play games. Also, Fireball Island addendum to ep 15!

Game References

Fireball Island, Playstation VR Worlds, Star Wars Battlefront I, The Void: Secrets of the Empire, Catan VR

Research References

Curtis, Michael K., Kayla Dawson, Kelli Jackson, Liat Litwin, Chase Meusel, Michael C. Dorneich, Stephen B. Gilbert, Jonathan Kelly, Richard Stone, & Eliot Winer. (2015, September). Mitigating Visually Induced Motion Sickness: A virtual hand-eye coordination task. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting (Vol. 59, No. 1, pp. 1839-1843). Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.

Mori, M. (1970). The uncanny valley. Energy7(4), 33-35.

Strawberry example: https://www.thekitchn.com/this-is-why-everyone-is-freaking-out-over-this-photo-of-strawberries-242605

Episode 15: The Malleability of Memory

Some people have the idea that memory is like a tape recorder: if you remember it, that’s the way it happened. But, the data show that our memories can change quite a bit over the course of time. We discuss these experiments and what it means for games.

Game References

Aeon’s End, Assassins Creed, Clue, Dominion, Fury of Dracula, Letters from Whitechapel, Monikers, Outburst, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Sleuth, The Stanley Parable, Taboo

Research References

Jacoby, L. L., Kelley, C., Brown, J., & Jasechko, J. (1989). Becoming famous overnight: Limits on the ability to avoid unconscious influences of the past. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 326-338.

Loftus, E. F., & Palmer, J. C. (1974). Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory. Journal of verbal learning and verbal behavior13(5), 585-589.

Roediger H. L.III, McDermott K. B. (1995). Creating false memories: Remembering words not presented in lists. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 21, 803–814. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.21.4.803