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Cognitive Gamer

Stephen Blessing

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Cognitive Gamer

Cognitive Gamer

Stephen Blessing

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Followers
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Plays
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About Us

I examine how cognitive psychology can help explain and inform how we play games. Each episode looks at how a particular cognitive phenomenon affects game playing. All types of games are considered, from board games to video games to games of chance. Check out cognitivegamer.com for more information.

Latest Episodes

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”.Cognition,21(1), 37-46. Premack, D., & Woodruff, G. (1978). Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?.Behavioral and brain sciences,1(4), 515-526.

28 minJUN 26
Comments
Episode 31: I Think I Know What You Know

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 boardgamearena.com https://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Distance_Gaming_Guide Research References Lang, P. J. (1994). The varieties of emotional experience: a meditation on James-Lange theory.Psychological review,101(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.

17 minAPR 19
Comments
Episode 30: The Invisible Boardgame

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 analogicaltransfer.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 Cognition,17(4), 753. Ross, B. H. (1984). Remindings and their effects in learning a cognitive skill.Cognitive psychology,16(3), 371-416.

14 minJAN 30
Comments
Episode 29: This is Like That: The Importance of Analogies

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 science,5(2), 121-152. Ericcson, K. A., Chase, W. G., & Faloon, S. (1980). Acquisition of a memory skill.Science,208(4448), 1181-1182. Gladwell, M. (2008).Outliers: The Story of Success. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

16 min2019 NOV 22
Comments
Episode 28: From Novice to Expert in One Easy Step

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 psychology,4(2), 115-135. Nussbaum, J. (1979). Children’s conceptions of the earth as a cosmic body: A cross age study.Science education,63(1), 83-93. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ace-Ten_games

15 min2019 SEP 4
Comments
Episode 27: Mental Models

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 https://www.psytoolkit.org/experiment-library/experiment_wcst.html 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 & Prevention,71, 311-318. Pashler, H. (1994). Dual-task interference in simple tasks: data and theory.Psychological bulletin,116(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 psychology,38(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 Psychology,79(6), 826.

14 min2019 AUG 6
Comments
Episode 26: To Switch or Not to Switch (but not that type of Switch)

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 behavior,11(6), 671-684.

13 min2019 JUN 29
Comments
Episode 25: Now That’s Deep!

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 Wingspan 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.Science,293(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.Neuron,76(3), 470-485.

15 min2019 MAY 9
Comments
Episode 24: Wingspan Cognalysis

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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutilated_chessboard_problem Defender: http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=Make_a_Mess,_Clean_it_Up!.txt Research References Adamson, R. E. (1952). Functional fixedness as related to problem solving: A repetition of three experiments.Journal of experimental psychology,44(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 monographs,58(5). Luchins, Abraham S. (1942). Mechanization in problem solving: The effect of Einstellung.Psychological Monographs.54(6): i–95.

18 min2019 MAR 19
Comments
Episode 23: Game, Mental Set, Match

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 Psychologist,51(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∗.Ergonomics,2(2), 153-166. Newell, A., & Rosenbloom, P. S. (1981). Mechanisms of skill acquisition and the law of practice.Cognitive skills and their acquisition,1(1981), 1-55.

19 min2019 JAN 17
Comments
Episode 22: The Amazing Declarative to Procedural Transition

Latest Episodes

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”.Cognition,21(1), 37-46. Premack, D., & Woodruff, G. (1978). Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?.Behavioral and brain sciences,1(4), 515-526.

28 minJUN 26
Comments
Episode 31: I Think I Know What You Know

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 boardgamearena.com https://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Distance_Gaming_Guide Research References Lang, P. J. (1994). The varieties of emotional experience: a meditation on James-Lange theory.Psychological review,101(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.

17 minAPR 19
Comments
Episode 30: The Invisible Boardgame

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 analogicaltransfer.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 Cognition,17(4), 753. Ross, B. H. (1984). Remindings and their effects in learning a cognitive skill.Cognitive psychology,16(3), 371-416.

14 minJAN 30
Comments
Episode 29: This is Like That: The Importance of Analogies

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 science,5(2), 121-152. Ericcson, K. A., Chase, W. G., & Faloon, S. (1980). Acquisition of a memory skill.Science,208(4448), 1181-1182. Gladwell, M. (2008).Outliers: The Story of Success. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

16 min2019 NOV 22
Comments
Episode 28: From Novice to Expert in One Easy Step

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 psychology,4(2), 115-135. Nussbaum, J. (1979). Children’s conceptions of the earth as a cosmic body: A cross age study.Science education,63(1), 83-93. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ace-Ten_games

15 min2019 SEP 4
Comments
Episode 27: Mental Models

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 https://www.psytoolkit.org/experiment-library/experiment_wcst.html 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 & Prevention,71, 311-318. Pashler, H. (1994). Dual-task interference in simple tasks: data and theory.Psychological bulletin,116(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 psychology,38(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 Psychology,79(6), 826.

14 min2019 AUG 6
Comments
Episode 26: To Switch or Not to Switch (but not that type of Switch)

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 behavior,11(6), 671-684.

13 min2019 JUN 29
Comments
Episode 25: Now That’s Deep!

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 Wingspan 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.Science,293(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.Neuron,76(3), 470-485.

15 min2019 MAY 9
Comments
Episode 24: Wingspan Cognalysis

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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutilated_chessboard_problem Defender: http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=Make_a_Mess,_Clean_it_Up!.txt Research References Adamson, R. E. (1952). Functional fixedness as related to problem solving: A repetition of three experiments.Journal of experimental psychology,44(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 monographs,58(5). Luchins, Abraham S. (1942). Mechanization in problem solving: The effect of Einstellung.Psychological Monographs.54(6): i–95.

18 min2019 MAR 19
Comments
Episode 23: Game, Mental Set, Match

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 Psychologist,51(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∗.Ergonomics,2(2), 153-166. Newell, A., & Rosenbloom, P. S. (1981). Mechanisms of skill acquisition and the law of practice.Cognitive skills and their acquisition,1(1981), 1-55.

19 min2019 JAN 17
Comments
Episode 22: The Amazing Declarative to Procedural Transition
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