A psychologist and life-long fan of video games helps you understand what psychology has to say about why video games and mobile game apps are designed the way they are, why players behave as they do, and the psychological tricks used to market and sell them.
This is a smart, thorough, and funny journey into the world of video games. Madigan, a psychologist, takes a scholarly approach, incorporating notable studies from the past, such as Philip Zimbardo's experiment of having subjects supposedly administer painful electric shocks, related here to the "reduced social accountability" observed in online game play. He bolsters the scientific subject matter with humor and a personable and accessible tone, especially when sharing his own experience as a gamer. His theories about mental focus don't seem particularly specific to video games, but rather are relevant to most forms of electronic and social media. Some readers might be left wanting more detailed portraits of actual gamers, beyond Madigan's brief anecdotes, but when he does highlight individual studies, he makes a concerted effort to flesh out the faces behind them. This is also a considerately conceived discussion, with handy bullet points at the end of each chapter. Madigan's work has disappointingly little to say about the possible benefits of games, but there's enough to get the attention of intellectually curious gamers, however momentarily.