Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

The Psychology of the Player & Game Character Design and Representation by Sherry Jones


Published on

Dec. 6, 2015 - This presentation explores many psychological theories that can help us understand how players think, and how game characters should be designed.

The Metagame Book Club is a K-12 and College professional development institution that offers free webinars, discussions, live chats, and other interactive activities on the topics of game-based learning, game studies, gamification, and games in general.

Interested in joining us? Visit our website here:

The Metagame Book Club

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

The Psychology of the Player & Game Character Design and Representation by Sherry Jones

  1. 1. #Metagame Book Club “The Psychology of the Player & Game Character Design and Representation” Sherry Jones | Games & Psychology Instructor | Fall 2015 | Twitter @autnes | Roger and Alex from Tekken 2 Lightning (aka Claire Farron) from FF13
  2. 2. Watch the Live Webcast!
  3. 3. 1. Noble, Ralph, Kathleen Ruiz, Marc Destefano, and Jonathan Mintz. Conditions of Engagement in Game Simulation: Contexts of Gender, Culture and Age. Digra. 2003. 2. Wirth, Richard. Game Studies: The Psychology of the ‘Player’. Leonardo Online. 2 November 2014. 3. Bartle, Richard. Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit Muds. 1996. 4. Yee, Nicholas. A Model of Player Motivations. The Daedalus Project. March 13, 2005. Texts in Focus 1
  4. 4. 5. Yee, Nicholas. Why We Quit. The Daedalus Project. Feb. 11, 2003. 6. Stewart, Bart. Personality and Player Styles: A Unified Model. Gamasutra. 2015. 7. Steinkuehler, Constance A. and Dmitri Williams. “Where Everybody Knows Your (Screen) Name: Online Games as Third Places. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(4), 9 October 2006. 8. Yee, Nicholas. Befriending Ogres and Wood Elves: Understanding Relationship Formation in MMORPG. October 2002. Texts in Focus 2
  5. 5. 9. Yee, Nick and Jeremy Bailenson. The Proteus Effect: The Effect of Transformed Self-Representation on Behavior. Human Communication Research. 2007. 10. Taylor, Nicholas, Chris Kampe, and Kristina Bell. Me and Lee: Identification and the Play of Attraction in The Walking Dead. Game Studies. July 2015. 11. Madigan, Jamie. The Psychology of Video Game Avatars. Psychology of Games. Nov. 29, 2013. 12. Warpefelt, Henrik, Magnus Johansson, and Harko Verhagen. The Believability of Game Character Behavior Using the Game Agent Matrix. Digra. 2013. 13. Isbister. Katherine. Better Game Characters by Design: A Psychological Approach. Elsevier. 2006. Texts in Focus 3
  6. 6. Why Are We Motivated to Play Games?
  7. 7. “New work has dramatically demonstrated the critical role of safety in video games, universally considered to be a ‘low level’ need of human beings.” -- Nobel, Ruiz, Destefano, and Mintz Conditions of Engagement in Game Simulations (2003) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 1
  8. 8. “There’s the feeling of safety that goes along with the sense of detachment when a player controls an on-screen avatar, or even a voice in a chat room. Players are more willing to act out their fantasies, and will often lower the barriers that they have erected for use in face-to-face conversation.” -- Nobel, Ruiz, Destefano, and Mintz Conditions of Engagement in Game Simulations (2003) Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs 2
  9. 9. “Digital games have enormous potential for acting like digital Skinner boxes. The reinforcement model focuses attention on two issues: the reinforcement structure of the game, the frequency, immediacy, and schedule of reinforcement; and the sources of reinforcement built into the game, including opportunities for victory, problem solving, and social interaction. Extensive research with operant conditioning makes it clear that the power of [operant] conditioning is the frequency with which reinforcing events takes place, and the immediacy with which reinforcement follows the behavioral event” (p. 9). -- Nobel, Ruiz, Destefano, and Mintz Conditions of Engagement in Game Simulations (2003) Operant Conditioning Reinforcement
  10. 10. ● Fixed Ratio Schedule - Pluck grass 15 times to find 1 treasure (15 activity level per reward). ● Variable Ratio Schedule - Pluck grass 15 times for a chance to find 1 treasure (15 activity level per random reward). ● Extinction - Stop giving rewards (leads to behavioral contrast). ● Avoidance - Does an activity to avoid pain. ● Frequency Ratio + Probability motivate players to keep playing. Schedules of Reinforcement
  11. 11. “Studies such as Zhong (2011) out of Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-Sen University have shown that there are several interesting relationships between online and offline socialization. This and other studies have corroborated findings that online collective play have highly significant positive effects on offline civic engagement, and various online social structures can grant enhanced skills in social bridging and bonding.” -- Richard Wirth Game Studies: The Psychology of the Player (2014) Forming Social Relationships
  12. 12. “By providing spaces for social interaction and relationships beyond the workplace and home, MMOs have the capacity to function as one form of a new ‘third place’ for informal sociability much like the pubs, coffee shops, and other hangouts of old. Moreover, participation in such virtual ‘‘third places’’ appears particularly well suited to the formation of bridging social capital (Putnam, 2000), social relationships that, while not providing deep emotional support per se, typically function to expose the individual to a diversity of worldviews.” -- Constance A. Steinkeuhler and Dmitri Williams Where Everyone Knows Your Screen Name (2006) Virtual Spaces as Third Spaces
  13. 13. “Traditionally, the structures that work to establish and build trust were found in social institutions and societies at large. According to Giddens (1991) however, trust today is more a product of personal, individual interactions and commitments. This is largely due to the removal of unions, clans, and the concept of the neighborhood, thus leaving people to fend for themselves in society at large. This is not dissimilar to how MMORPG socialization functions, as frequently an individual player must work their way through the online world alone, with the only existing social structures being guilds and player cliques.” -- Richard Wirth Game Studies: The Psychology of the Player (2014) Building Trust
  14. 14. “While it may come as a surprise to many people, studies have shown that people are more likely to be honest and forth-coming on personal issues when asked over a computer-mediated communication channel as opposed to a face to face setting. When clinical psychologists first began to use computers as part of the initial screening interview process for new patients, they noticed that patients were oftentimes more forthcoming when typing their responses to a computer rather than telling them to the clinician face to face. In other words, even though the end audience was the clinician in both cases, patients were more likely to be honest and revealing when the communication was mediated by a computer (Walther, 1996).” -- Nicholas Yee Befriending Elfs and Woodland Creatures (2002) Truthfulness, Media, and Relationship 1
  15. 15. “Part of the rationale for why this occurs is that the absence of another person judging and reacting to the speaker's words as they type makes it easier to disclose personal issues. Anecdotally, many people who use instant messaging systems (such as AIM or MSN) are able to talk about more personal issues even if it is to someone who they know in real-life. In both cases, the asynchronous nature of the communication channel as well as the absence of another person who judges the speaker instantaneously, with a full repertoire of facial expressions, probably makes the speaker feel more comfortable with disclosing personal information. -- Nicholas Yee Befriending Elfs and Woodland Creatures (2002) Truthfulness, Media, and Relationship 2
  16. 16. ● Feel boredom and repetition in a game. ● Feel that game = work, responsibility, stress, worries. ● Feel that game lacks long term goal. ● Feel frustrated by problems that arose from social relationships. ● Perceive game to lack complexity or “true role-play.” ● Lose interest when game is full of bugs and balancing problems. ● Feel frustrated by bad customer service or company attitude. ● Fear addiction to game. -- Nicholas Yee Why We Quit (2003) When We Quit Playing
  17. 17. Who Are the Game Players?
  18. 18. ● Achievers - “Players give themselves game-related goals, and vigorously set out to achieve them. This usually means accumulating and disposing of large quantities of high-value treasure, or cutting a swathe through hordes of mobiles.” ● Explorers - “Players try to find out as much as they can about the virtual world.” ● Socializers - “Players use the game's communicative facilities, and apply the role-playing that these engender, as a context in which to converse (and otherwise interact) with their fellow players.” ● Killers (Imposers) - “Players use the tools provided by the game to cause distress to (or, in rare circumstances, to help) other players.” -- Richard Bartle Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades (1996) Bartle’s Player Types
  19. 19. “1. Proposed components of each Type may not be related. For example, Bartle proposes that role-playing and socialization both fall under the same Type, but they may not be highly-correlated. 2. Proposed Types may overlap with each other. For example, aren't members of raid-oriented guilds both Achievers and Socializers? But in Bartle's Types, they are on opposite corners of the model. 3. The purely theoretical model provides no means to assess players as to what Type they are. But more importantly, without resolving the problem in (1), any attempted assessment of players based on this model might be creating player types rather than measuring them.” -- Nicholas Yee A Model of Player Motivation (2005) Limitations of Bartle’s Theoretical Model
  20. 20. -- Nicholas Yee A Model of Player Motivation (2005) Measurement of Player Types
  21. 21. -- Bart Stewart (2015) Bartle’s Player Types Chart
  22. 22. ● “Artisan (Sensing + Perceiving): realistic, tactical, manipulative (of things or people), pragmatic, impulsive, action-focused, sensation- seeking. ● Guardian (Sensing + Judging): practical, logistical, hierarchical, organized, detail-oriented, possessive, process-focused, security- seeking. ● Rational (iNtuition + Thinking): innovative, strategic, logical, scientific/technological, future-oriented, result-focused, knowledge- seeking. ● Idealist (iNtuition + Feeling): imaginative, diplomatic, emotional, relationship-oriented, dramatic, person-focused, identity-seeking.” -- Bart Stewart Personality and Player Types (2015) Keirsey’s Temperaments Model
  23. 23. -- Bart Stewart (2015) Keirsey’s Temperament Types Chart
  24. 24. -- Bart Stewart (2015) Unified Model of Player Types - Bartle’s + Keirsey’s + Bateman’s DGD1
  25. 25. Game Character Representation and Player Identity Affordance
  26. 26. “The Greek God Proteus is notable for being the origin of the adjective ‘protean’—the ability to take on many different self representations. And although extreme self-transformations are expensive (e.g., cosmetic surgery) or difficult to perform (e.g., gender reassignment surgery) on our physical bodies, nowhere is self-representation more flexible and easy to transform than in virtual environments where users can choose or customize their own avatars—digital representations of themselves.” -- Nicholas Yee and Jeremy Bailenson “The Proteus Effect” (2007) Greek God Proteus and Avatars
  27. 27. “The avatar is not simply a uniform that is worn, the avatar is our entire self representation. Although the uniform is one of many identity cues … the avatar is the primary identity cue in online environments. Thus, we might expect that our avatars have a significant impact on how we behave online. Users who are deindividuated in online environments may adhere to a new identity that is inferred from their avatars. And in the same way that subjects in black uniforms conform to a more aggressive identity, users in online environments may conform to the expectations and stereotypes of the identity of their avatars. Or more precisely, in line with self-perception theory, they conform to the behavior that they believe others would expect them to have. We term this the Proteus Effect.” -- Nicholas Yee and Jeremy Bailenson “The Proteus Effect” (2007) The Proteus Effect (Self-Perception Theory)
  28. 28. Avatar Creation as Creation of Self
  29. 29. “Researchers have found that the ability to create idealized versions of ourselves is strongly connected to how much we enjoy the game, how immersed we become, and how much we identify with the avatar. Assistant professor Seung-A ‘Annie’ Jin, who works at Emerson College’s Marketing Communication Department, did a series of experiments with Nintendo Miis and Wii Fit.1 She found that players who were able to create a Mii that was approximately their ideal body shape generally felt more connected to that avatar and also felt more capable of changing their virtual self’s behavior – a fancy way of saying that the game felt more interactive and immersive.” -- Jamie Madigan “The Psychology of Video Game Avatars” (2013) Player/Avatar Creation and Immersion
  30. 30. “Our analysis [attempts] to articulate processes of player/avatar affiliation according to the factors—more accurately, the Deleuzian “attractors” (DeLanda, 2011)—that influence these processes. Attractors represent particular tendencies sedimented over time rather than concrete things (DeLanda, 2011); beginning from the recognition that affiliation is a dynamic performance rather than a singular state of identification with an avatar (Giddings and Kennedy, 2008; Linderoth, 2005), our framework allows us to better understand how this performance is influenced at different times by different forces.” -- Taylor, Kempe, and Bell “Me and Lee” (2015) Player Identity as Dynamic Performance of Affiliation
  31. 31. “The player/avatar relationship [is one] in terms of flux and indeterminacy—arising from the “push-pull” of agency across an assemblage of human and non-human actors (Giddings and Kennedy, 2008)—rather than as a fixed state.” -- Taylor, Kempe, and Bell “Me and Lee” (2015) Player/Avatar Relationship
  32. 32. Game Character Design through Psychology
  33. 33. ● “Dominance or submissiveness (patterns of holding or avoiding direct eye contact), ● where a person’s attention is at the moment, ● flirtation, ● interest in beginning a conversation (or desire to avoid one), ● an invitation for one’s conversation partner to take a turn in the dialogue, ● active listening, and ● pondering of a point” (p. 145). -- Katherine Isbister “Better Game Characters by Design” (2006) Face - Timing and Direction of the Gaze
  34. 34. “As people scan others’ faces for emotional expressions, their own faces involuntarily respond. Mirroring the expression on another’s face with your own helps establish connection and demonstrates empathy” (p. 149). “Curiously, this mirroring can have an impact on our own emotions (see Figure 5.9). Making a face seems to trigger the emotion that is ‘faked.’ The facial feedback hypothesis, first proposed by Darwin, has been tested in modern times with a rather ingenious study” (p. 149). -- Katherine Isbister “Better Game Characters by Design” (2006) Face - Empathy and Emotional Feedback
  35. 35. Facial Feedback Hypothesis -- Katherine Isbister “Better Game Characters by Design” (2006)
  36. 36. “Social scientists refer to the information that is not conveyed by the words in speech as paralinguistic cues. A large proportion of the meaning in everyday conversation emerges through paralinguistic cues—shifts in voice quality while speaking, pauses, grunts, and other nonlinguistic utterances. Paralinguistic cues play an even bigger role in communication between people who already know each other well—a well-placed sigh or lack of a heartfelt tone conveys volumes. To make characters seem richly human in their communication, then, a designer should have a solid understanding of what they are conveying with how they say things” (p. 184). -- Katherine Isbister “Better Game Characters by Design” (2006) Voice and Paralinguistic Cues
  37. 37. “For example, gender and age come across in voice because of physical qualities of the person’s vocal equipment itself (which can be a problem for people whose voices fall outside the usual range for their gender or age group). Mood and emotion are signalled involuntarily (at least in part) because of changes in vocal production as the person’s nervous system reacts—for example, the dry mouth and speedier heart rate of anxiety also have effects on the muscles in the larynx and on breathing itself. However, a person can also mold the tone of his or her voice in some ways, adopting a pacifying, pleading, arrogant, or neutral tone of voice using intonation and rhythm (referred to as prosody by researchers). Failing to adopt the proper social tone of voice is a communication in and of itself.” (p. 184). -- Katherine Isbister “Better Game Characters by Design” (2006) Voice and Prosody
  38. 38. ● “Anger (hot). Tense voice, faster speech rate, higher pitch, broader pitch range. ● Anger (cold). Tense voice, faster speech rate, higher fundamental frequency and intensity, tendency toward downward-directed intonation contours. ● Joy. Faster speech rate, raised pitch, broader pitch range, rising pitch pattern ● Fear. Raised pitch, faster speech rate, broadened range, high- frequency energy” (p. 186). -- Katherine Isbister “Better Game Characters by Design” (2006) Voice and Emotional Expressions 1
  39. 39. ● “Boredom. Slower speech rate, additional lengthening of stressed syllables, lowered pitch, reduced pitch range and variability. ● Sadness (crying despair). Slower speech rate, raised pitch, narrowed pitch range, narrowed variability. ● Sadness (quiet sorrow). Slower speech rate, lowered pitch, narrower pitch range, narrower variability, downward-directed contours, lower mean intensity, less precision of articulation. ● Depression. Lower intensity and dynamic range, downward contours” (p. 186). -- Katherine Isbister “Better Game Characters by Design” (2006) Voice and Emotional Expressions 2
  40. 40. Game Character Design and The Uncanny Valley
  41. 41. The Uncanny Valley Model The Uncanny Valley Model by Masahiro Mori
  42. 42. Lecture By: Sherry Jones Philosophy | Rhetoric | Game Studies | Game Design & Psychology @autnes Writings & Webcasts Link to Slides: