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M.I.N.D. Lab Study Named #1

M.I.N.D. Lab Study Named #1

At the 2006 Game Developers Conference, a M.I.N.D. Lab study was selected as the #1 in a top ten list of studies deemed to have the most impact on the way industry developers think about games design.

A panel of judges from Georgia Institute of Technology, Ohio State University, and the University of California, Berkeley, presented ten research projects from 2004 and 2005, whose findings could impact the way game creators think about and make games.

The "number one" research question and study selected was: "How do game events marking success versus failure affect a player's level of engagement?"

Failure is remarkably important to game players.  That's what Niklas Ravaja et al. from the Helsinki School of Economics found when they compiled their research.  Using the game Super Monkey Ball 2 for GameCube and physiological and behavioral measures, they examined how player success and failure affected the player's level of engagement.

McGonical, one of the panel judges, calls their findings "counter-intuitive,' noting the participants felt more pleasure and excitement in active failure than in success.  Passive failures, on the other hand, leave players feeling less engaged.  So the ways in which developers make failure possible-either active or passive-will have a significant effect on how players receive the game.
 "It didn't matter that within the game [the players] were doing really terribly," says McGonigal.  "There's a certain satisfaction of sending a monkey into space."

Research on the psychology and design of gaming systems is underway at several of the M.I.N.D. Labs, a network of 10 labs spanning seven countries.  A project called FUGA (Fun and Games) Fun and Games - focuses on measuring the experience of media enjoyment form computer games and developing emotionally adaptive gaming prototypes.  A project called PASION will develop games that measure, transmit, and display user emotional states.  Other M.I.N.D. Lab projects use games for health communication, clinical psychology, and deception detection training (see projects)

A presentation containing a full citation of the research summarized at theconference is available on website:  Additional article is also available at,71386-0.html

A copy of the study is available at

The M.I.N.D. Labs are an international network of ten labs in seven countries.  The labs conduct cognitive science and interactive design research on ways in which media and minds interact, that is how media form and content effect, augment, and improve human cognition and performance.

Questions should be addressed to
Dr. Niklas Ravaja, Research Associate - Center of Knowledge Information Research, Helsinki School of Economics
E-mail: or
Dr. Timo Saari, Director of Research - Center of Knowledge Information Research, Helsinki School of Economics


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