Reward anticipation – A powerful tool for game design

A neurobiological understanding of games has at its core the dopaminergic reward system [1]. The nucleus accumbens, which is also dubbed the pleasure centre of the brain, is currently understood as the critical brain region associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine, which in turn is implicated in habit formation, reward-seeking behaviours and addiction. The above video shows a speech from Robert Sapolsky, Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University, where he discusses his research concerning dopamine release in the brain when rewarded and when anticipating a reward. Continue reading

Advent Calendar 2009

11 – Designing a Game Changer

Philip Fierlinger from New Zealand is the head of design at Xero, a company focused on an online accounting system. For the inaugural Wellington Web Meetup, he gave a presentation with a set of beautiful slides on applying game mechanics to interaction design (for the web in this case) to transform experiences from painful to pleasurable. In his slides he does not concentrate too much on aesthetic aspects of game design, but more on the rules and conditions that are inherent to all games and our human need to expose ourselves to such rule systems for our own personal pleasure. One of the really nice things I could take away from his presentation is that even in banking (as one of the quotes he uses shows), some people consider games equal to high-quality, pleasurable interaction. Continue reading