Why Did the Mass Effect 3 Ending Ruin the Whole Series?

What do the ending of the Mass Effect series and a painful medical procedure have in common? They both illustrate how memory and evaluation of experiences interact.

When the Pay to Win Button Backfires in Video Games

How do players react and what social comparisons do they make when others pay real money for in-game advantages?

Why We Hate (Some) Video Game Motion Controls

Some recent research suggests how to predict whether motion controls and other weird peripherals will lead to frustration or enjoyment.

Red vs. Blue: Which Should You Choose?

Has anyone ever done research on whether playing on the red team or the blue gives one a mental edge in games? Yep.
Frustration, Video Game Violence, and Real-Life Aggression

Frustration, Video Game Violence, and Real-Life Aggression

Does violent content in video games cause violence in real-life? New research looks at whether something more mundane like frustration over controls and difficulty offer an alternative explanation?

Fake Feels and Free Passes

The story of one very scary bridge may explain why Game of the Year discussions ignore the flaws in video games like The Last of Us.

How Not to Compare the Xbox One and PS4

Many of us are comparing bulleted lists of new console features when trying to decide which to buy. That’s a step up from blind fanboyism, but such an approach can still trigger a couple of mental errors in judgment. Here’s how to avoid them.

Why Gone Home Is So Immersive

How a small team's simple exploration game creates more spatial presence than big budget blockbusters like Grand Theft Auto.

It's So Bad: Cognitive Dissonance and Cheap Games

Are you more likely to enjoy a video game bought at full price or on sale? Bargain hunting may have a downside.

Inattentional Blindness and Video Games

How some video games elevate a cognitive blind spot into a gameplay mechanic. Stop me if you've heard this one: A blind gorilla in a fez walks up to a border checkpoint...

Some of the Psychology Behind Steam's Summer Sale

The digital sales juggernaut Steam has unleashed its annual sales event. Let's look at five psychological factors that influence how much we are likely to buy video games from the comfort of our own home.

Can The Xbox One's Kinect Read Your Mind?

The Kinect camera in Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One will supposedly be able to measure your heart rate and sense your mood. That's got some crazy implications for game design.

The Left-Digit Effect: Why Game Prices End in .99

Why prices end in .99 and how games can take advantage of it.

Just One More Level: Gaming While Aroused

How arousal (of various types) can explain our otherwise inexplicable decisions to play "just one more level" when we should know better.

A Tale of Two Talent Trees

Is it better to present choices in a video game's upgrade tree sequentially or simultaneously if you want players to be happy with their choice?

The Availability Heuristic Is Always On

How a Twitter snafu about the new Xbox console provides a great illustration of the (un)availability heuristic in real life.

The Zeigarnik Effect and Quest Logs

What do waiters in a 1920s Venetian restaurant and today’s average role-playing game fan have in common? They both tend to remember what they have yet to finish.

Modifying Player Behavior in League of Legends With Honor

What does a video game developer do when its players are known for being insufferable jerks? It hires a team of psychologists to tackle complex problems with some of the oldest tricks in the book.

Gamer Dreams

Do those who play a lot of video games have more bizarre but ultimately less threatening dreams? The weirdness and role playing that permeates many games may be the reason why gamers don't dream like most other people.

The Walking Dead, Mirror Neurons, and Empathy

Telltale's game about a zombie apocalypse isn't emotionally draining the way most horror stories are. The secret to its ability to ignite our empathy relies on mirror neurons deep within our brains.

How Game Tutorials Can Strangle Player Creativity

Is it better to hand hold new players through a video game tutorial to teach them all the mechanics and intricacies of a game, or is it better to let them figure things out on their own? How tutorials can limit what we think a game has to offer.

Creativity, Puzzle Games, and Brain Damage

Ever notice how you can beat your head against a puzzle in a game but can't solve it until you step away and come back later? Hey, there's neuroscience behind that.

Social Proof and Video Game Sales

A classic psychology study illustrates how your video game buying habits and opinions may be more influenced by external factors more than you realize.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect and Multiplayer Games

Ever wonder why you get beaten so badly in multiplayer games when by all accounts you're totally awesome at the single player game or playing against the computer? Hey, psychologists have studied this and can tell you why.
Competition vs. Cooperation in Video Games

Competition vs. Cooperation in Video Games

Are gamers more likely to trust each other and be nice after playing a video game that requires them to do violence against a common foe?

Reciprocity, Urban Planning, and SimCity Social

The SimCity Social game on Facebook encourages you to shower other players with gifts, help, and spam at every opportunity. The reason why has to do with one of our most basic instincts as social creatures.

Scarcity and the Steam Summer Sale

How does the Steam summer video game sale event create artificial scarcity and capitalize on a psychological quirk to sell more games? It's pretty simple and pretty blatant once you know what to look for.

Halos, Hitmen, and Killer Nun Assassins

How the kerfluffle over a video game trailer featuring sexy nun assassin ladies illustrates a well established cognitive bias and doesn't bode well for the game's development. Or, possibly, it bodes exactly as expected.

The Psychology of Video Game Immersion

Many gamers know the sensation of getting immersed in a video game and feeling like they've left the real world behind. What are the characteristics of a game that help make this happen?