DOI: 10.5176/2251-1679_CGAT13.10

Authors: Paul Williams, Keith Nesbitt, Ami Eidels, Mark Washburn, David Cornforth


In this paper we describe the development of two computer games designed for studying the ‘hot hand’. The ‘hot hand’ is an interesting psychological phenomenon first studied in basketball. It suggests that players sometimes get on a hot streak, displaying above average performance, or having ‘hot hands’.

Although this is a widely held belief, analysis of data in a number of sports has failed to verify the existence of the hot hand. While this lack of evidence may indicate belief in the hot hand is a cognitive fallacy, alternate views have suggested that the player’s strategy, confidence, and risk-taking may account for the difficulty of detecting the hot hand. To investigate this phenomenon more closely we developed some simple computer games that allow more rigorous empirical study of ‘hot hands’.

We are especially interested in games where players can choose to take greater risk following success when performing a sequence of repeated challenges. Under these conditions, higher levels of task difficulty might mask the hot hand. The design of such games has some specific design requirements. In this paper we compare two such game designs by collecting empirical data that captures player performance in terms of success and response time. We then use a variety of analytical and visualization techniques to study player strategies in these games. This allows us to detect a key design flaw in one of the games and validate the second game for use in further studies of the hot hand condition.

Keywords: component; Computer game, Usability Study, Hot Hand, Game Design.

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