Using Games to Understand the Mind


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Video games are played by over 2 billion people spread across the world population, with both children and adults participating. Games have gained popularity as an avenue for studying cognition. We believe that studying cognition using games can generate progress in psychology and in neuroscience similar to the one that has occurred in artificial intelligence research over the past decades. Using games to understand the mind enables researchers to scale up theories of cognition to more complex settings, reverse-engineer human inductive biases, create experiments that participants want to take part in, and study learning over long time horizons. We describe both the advantages and drawbacks of using games relative to standard lab-based experiments, and lay out a set of recommendations on how to gain the most from using games to study cognition. We hope that this article will lead to a wider use of games as experimental paradigms, elevating the complexity, robustness, and external validity of research on the mind.
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