Archive for the ‘ Research ’ Category

Nicotine Around the World

A great infographic from the folks at GOOD on Nicotine impacts and educational efforts around the world.


Smoker? Play our game and receive $30!

If you are a 20-39 years old nicotine smoker, and live in or near New York City, you can support our research by coming into Columbia University for 1.5-2 hours to play-test our game. $30 compensation for your participation. For more information please email Thank you!

New research about game-play and quitting

Article published by Nicole Martinelli on March 16th, 2011

New research shows that game boosted quitting success rates by 15%, according to a new article on “Cult of Mac” by Nicole Martinelli. Read more –

Get the feel-good chemical flowing!

People love music for much the same reason they’re drawn to sex, drugs, gambling and delicious food, according to new research. When you listen to tunes that move you, the study found, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical involved in both motivation and addiction. Continue reading

Which Test?

As a researcher, I’ve wanted a site like for ages. By answering a few simple questions about your data sample, the site helps you figure out which statistical methods to apply. It’s not a replacement for stats classes, but it’s an incredibly helpful supplement. (Or, if you’re like me, it’s a good way to confirm that you’re actually doing what you meant to!)

It’s also reminded me that there’s lots of easy, relatively low-tech tools for thinking that no one’s built yet, because no one’s seen the money in it – or has gotten sufficiently annoyed to roll their own. Just last week I had to pull out my stats textbook to check something and got really irritated by how long it took me. Next time I’m annoyed at something in my daily life, I’ll pay attention!

Valve’s Play-Testing Methodology

I was incredibly excited to come across this presentation on Valve’s approach to play-testing.  For those who don’t want to page through the whole PDF, they go over the advantages and limitations of many different methods of gathering data: observation, talk-alouds, surveys, in-game data collection, physiological measures and more.  Each method is good at getting at certain kinds of data, and you have to think about the game design problem you’re trying to solve when you choose which one to use.

It doesn’t surprise me that Valve does a great job with play-testing; their games are super-polished!  What did surprise me, though, was how similar their analysis was to what I learned in my research methods classes.  There’s a lot of talk about how far apart academia and industry are, but this particular area seems very closely aligned.

I was, of course, also reading with an eye to the data collection we’re doing for Lit.  As we start play-testing our first digital prototypes, there’s that moment of “Oh, man!  We’re a bunch of academics.  What the hell are we doing?”  The answer, it seems, is learning from the best that’s out there.  Rock.