While I was reading an article about the wireless connected world (Fröhlich et al., 2011) I started to put the pieces together. The fascinating thing about the pervasiveness of gadgets, virtual environments, apps, Facebook and the like is that they have changed our reality. They are providing us with stimulus and information at such a pace that makes the feedback we see in the real world rival that of MMO’s. I’ll take a controversial stance here and say, this is not a bad thing. In fact the engaging devices and their apps drive us to explore in new ways. There is nothing new in this world, or so one would think, however when someone pulls up foursquare and begins collecting achievements by simply logging into places they haven’t visited before, or by beginning on a quest to find the best burger suddenly there is something new. All of the sudden the user is on a collaborative, feedback driven adventure with others that participate in that same service.
I am fascinated by the exploratory aspect because I’ve recently come across research that identifies that video games increase dopamine in the brain (Koepp, et al. 1998). Dopamine has a direct and positive affect on decision making and willingness to engage (Wardle, Treadway, Mayo, Zald, de Wit, 2011).
As you can tell, tying together psychology, neuroscience, video games, and technology really gets me going.
Fröhlich, P., Oulasvirta, A., Baldauf, M., & Nurminen, A. (2011). On the move, wirelessly connected to the world. Communications of the ACM, 54(1), 132-138.
Koepp, M. J. Gunn, R. N., Lawrence, A. D., Cunningham, V. J., Dagher, A., Jones, T., Brooks, D. J., Bench, C. J., & Grasby P.M. (1998). Evidence for striatal dopamine release during a video game. Nature, 393(6682), 266-268.
Wardle, M. C., Treadway, M. T., Mayo, L. M., Zald, D. H., & de Wit, H. (2011). Amping up effort: Effects of d-amphetamine on human effort-based decision-making. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(46), 16597-16602.