game developpers


The 2007 GDC (Games developpers conference) is now online. (via grandtextauto)
and it hosts a lot of interesting talks like e.g. the one by Tom Baranowski (Professor of Pediatrics) about Behavioural theory in the Design of Serious Games

From the sessions description:

Behavioral theory has provided the foundation for behavior change programs in regard to a broad variety of health related or other behaviors. Serious games also need to be guided by behavioral theory. This presentation covers the key constructs in several behavioral theories: Social Cognitive Theory, Theory of Planned Behavior, Social Inoculation Theory; and the corresponding behavior change procedures: goal setting, practical knowledge training, skill training, temptation resistance, tailoring. Examples are provided from several published, peer reviewed outcome evaluations of serious health related games. Future serious games research must assess behavioral outcomes and the role of theoretical constructs mediating or moderating these outcomes.

There is a whole mathematical theory called game theory (see e.g. Wiikipedia or dedicated to the study of game outcomes where the moves/rules (and likewise the payoffs) are usually given. The introduction of psychologic components into game theory is extremely complicated. It is a vast field (see e.g. here) and I couldnt find a good public overview article, so here is e.g. an article by Camerer, Ho and Chong related to these questions but treating a special case (bounded rationality) there is also e.g. this). So just to give a glimpse into the subject from the intro of the article:

Game theory is a mathematical system for analyzing and predicting how humans behave in strategic situations. Standard equilibrium analyses assume all players:
1) form beliefs based on analysis of what others might do (strategic thinking);
2) choose a best response given those beliefs (optimization);
3) adjust best responses and beliefs until they are mutually consistent (equilibrium).

It is widely-accepted that not every player behaves rationally in complex situations, so assumptions (1) and (2) are sometimes violated. For explaining consumer choices and other decisions, rationality may still be an adequate approximation even if a modest percentage of players violate the theory. But game theory is different. Players’ fates are intertwined. The presence of players who do not think strategically or optimize can therefore change what rational players should do….

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