Psychology of Play and Games
The objective of the course is to provide students with ways of understanding, articulating and thinking critically about some of the fundamental assumptions about the psychology of games, play and players, both human and non-human.
The course introduces the student to classic psychological theory and ideas about games and play. The course relates these to research into contemporary issues and debates such as:
- Gambling versus gaming and ‘loot boxes’
- Dark design patterns
- Violence and social learning
- The psychology of esports
- Player types
- Social dynamics in online spaces
These topics will be discussed against the backdrop of the main schools of thought in psychology: behavioral, cognitive, social, and existential-humanistic psychology.
The course is designed to help students think critically about how games and play in a broad sense can be understood in a psychological framework; but also, how specific game elements might or might not influence players.
Furthermore, the course will explore the affordances of the virtual worlds that have come to be the backdrop of a lot of play in the 21st century.
The students will be tasked with not only learning about various psychological approaches to human play, games, and motivation in general, but also to implement these in playful interactions. How might one approach a design task based on the tenants of e.g. behavioral psychology as opposed to humanistic psychology?
There are no formal prerequisites for the course. Prior academic experience with psychology is advantageous. However, teaching and learning activities are aimed at students with no prior knowledge of the field.
Intended learning outcomes
After the course, the student should be able to:
- Identify and account for select key questions and theoretical positions in the psychology of games and play.
- Account for relevant theoretical perspectives on games and play.
- Analyze and discuss a select issue within the subject area of the psychology of games and play and possibly to discuss the potential implications whether they are e.g. political, ethical, philosophical, historical or societal issues, challenges, etc.
- Present relevant concepts from the curriculum precisely, and use these concepts in a well-argued manner in an investigation of a problem related to the understanding or analysis of games.
The course is organized around the standard format of lectures and exercise sessions. Lectures are typically teacher-driven, but still interactive sessions wherein students are presented with the main theoretical concepts of the course. Exercise sessions vary in their format. They may feature class discussions, student-driven seminars, and student driven workshops. In student-driven seminars students, in groups, read and prepare a presentation of a part of the course literature for class discussion (all students will have to prepare at least one seminar). In student driven workshops the class as a whole attempt to apply psychological theoretical insight to concrete, game-related problems.
It is expected that students prepare a minimum of one seminar for fellow students, in which they
work with selected readings from the syllabus.
The course literature is published in the course page in LearnIT.
Student Activity BudgetEstimated distribution of learning activities for the typical student
- Preparation for lectures and exercises: 30%
- Lectures: 20%
- Exercises: 20%
- Exam with preparation: 30%
Ordinary examExam type:
C: Submission of written work, external (7-trinsskala)
C: Submission of written work