Jamie Madigan and the Psychology of Video Games


I need sometime to prepare some goodies for the blog so for the next couple of months I’ll be writing about topics and people that orbit around games and analytics. Don’t worry I’ll return to the techy part later but what I’ve planned takes a bit of work.

In the meantime I want to start with a very special podcast and its creator.

I profoundly believe that most jobs are multidisciplinary in today’s world. Every knowledge worker has a small set of hard skills that define the job title, description and ultimately their output. He also has a set of soft skills that are more or less relevant depending on the hard skills. The multidisciplinary nature of knowledge workers is heavily based on the extra knowledge and specialised skills.

In my case I’ve a lot of interest in things related to how players interact and make decisions in video games. I dwelled in some game design related psychology and neurology topics involving learning, automation and pleasure. This led me later to how people make decisions and lately to behavioural economics.

I always felt the missing piece was psychology, not from the game dev point of view, there’s plenty about that, but from its intersection with the academic point of view. I don’t recall how but “The Psychology of Video Games” podcast, which seemed to be exactly that intersection, popped up on my radar. So I added it to my podcast app. Heard a couple of episodes and enjoyed content, form and production values. I added all previous episodes and kept hearing it.

During that process I contacted Jamie Madigan, the man behind the podcast. I wanted to discuss a point with which I disagreed. His answer was impressive. Simple, clear, objective and comprehensive. He understood my point and discussed it, presenting his view in a respectful, almost professional and yet friendly manner. In hindsight I should’ve expected it. You see… Jamie Madigan is a psychologist… the really cool thing about his work in video games is that he is an avid gamer. Not that there’s anything peculiar about gamer psychologists but when I think about the great people I met in game dev, they have that common trait, gamer programmer, gamer artist, gamer musician, etc… see what I mean?

What the podcast offers is, to my knowledge, unique. Every week Jamie invites someone that is involved in academic research in the area. The academic perspective on the subject of video games has been able to both inform and challenge me episode after episode.

It does not end here though. There is also a site with many articles and a book. I haven’t bought the book yet but the articles, while more on the opinion side than the discussion side have the same standards of content quality of the podcast episodes.

Last but not least, when I visited the site, I found a link to another site: Patreon. Patreon is sort of a crowd funding for content creators. And yep, I’m a patron of Jamie Madigan’s work and I believe that if you have any interest in psychology of video games, you should be too! I don’t give much but if a lot of us give a little bit, it can be a massive improvement to this outstanding work. That’s what crowd funding is all about. That listening to articles… Patreon benefits, baby!

I’ve nothing to add that Jamie can’t say himself, so search for the podcast on your favourite podcast software and visit the website or the Patreon page and check out the book!

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