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Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

403. The Power of Games w/ Kelly Clancy

In episode 403 of The Brainy Business podcast, neuroscientist and physicist Kelly Clancy, through her extensive experience at MIT, Berkeley University College London, and DeepMind, provides a profound exploration of the psychology of games and their influence on behavior and decision-making. Kelly’s expertise in neuroscience and game design is evident as she connects concepts from these fields to offer a comprehensive understanding of the topic. Her book, Playing with Reality, delves deep into the history and significance of games, emphasizing their role in shaping human behavior and thought processes. 

Throughout the conversation, Kelly highlights the impact of games in shaping behaviors, the significance of balancing innovation with maintenance, and the power of experiential games in fostering empathy and understanding. She presents valuable insights into the role of games in shaping economic concepts, fostering understanding, tolerance, and better conversations, and the strategic and innovative aspects of game design for creating new systems and marketplaces. 

Kelly’s examples and anecdotes effectively illustrate the broader implications of gaming in various contexts, making it clear that games are not just about entertainment but can also have profound effects on decision-making and societal dynamics. Kelly’s expertise and passion for the subject shine through, making the episode an engaging and informative exploration of the psychology of gaming.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Explore the profound influence of games on human culture and societal norms.
  • Understand the intersection of neuroscience and artificial intelligence in shaping game design and player experience.
  • Discover the application of behavioral economics in driving strategic decision-making and consumer behavior within businesses.
  • Trace the historical significance of games and their impact on modern thought and innovation.
  • Learn the art of designing effective incentive systems to drive organizational performance and foster innovation.
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HERE'S A 2 MINUTE TIP.

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SHOW NOTES:

00:00:00 – Introduction
Melina introduces Kelly Clancy, author of Playing with Reality, and sets the stage for a conversation about the history and impact of games on society.

00:02:30 – Kelly’s Background and Interest in Games
Kelly shares her background as a neuroscientist and physicist and her interest in the history of games, which stems from her work at DeepMind and her observations of how games influence scientific thought.

00:05:51 – Definition of Games
Kelly defines games as systems with a goal and restrictions on how to achieve that goal, highlighting the importance of following rules and how games have been influential in shaping behavior and learning.

00:09:00 – Influence of Games on Behavior and Dopamine System
Kelly discusses how games can shape behavior through the manipulation of the dopamine system, leading to behaviors that may not align with personal values, and the potential dangers of games encouraging individuals to abandon their values to win.

00:13:38 – Designing Systems and Mechanism Design
Kelly explores the concept of mechanism design and the importance of thinking at a systems level, drawing parallels between game design and designing systems to elicit specific behaviors, with examples from the tech industry.

00:16:25 – Designing Games for Honesty
Kelly discusses the goal of designing games where everyone can win by being honest. The importance of incentivizing the right behaviors within organizations is highlighted.

00:17:54 – Incentivizing Different Strategies
Kelly suggests incentivizing different personality types within organizations to balance innovation with maintenance work. She emphasizes the need to reward solid, clever work alongside innovation.

00:21:31 – Sports and Games
The guest discusses the historical significance of sports as a physical conditioning for conflict resolution. She explores the idea of trying on different personalities in games and how it can lead to self-discovery.

00:24:54 – Fascinating Aspects of Games
The conversation delves into the experiential nature of games and how they provide a unique exploration of agency. Anecdotes about the powerful impact of immersive games on decision-making are shared.

00:27:29 – Reality Shows and Games
The guest draws parallels between modern reality shows and historical events like the Renaissance Venice carnival. The discussion centers on how reality shows allow participants to try on different personas and make decisions based on role-playing.

00:32:47 – The Power of Trust and Perception
Kelly discusses the importance of trust and perception in games and how players must navigate interactions without hearing the other person’s voice.

00:33:45 – Understanding Tolerance and Safe Spaces
The conversation delves into the importance of tolerance and having a safe space to explore different scenarios and perspectives, which can lead to positive lessons beyond the game.

00:36:00 – The Role of Play in Learning and Tolerance
Exploring the universal play language among animals and its impact on learning, tolerance, and intelligence expansion, as well as its ability to motivate teams and individuals.

00:37:43 – The Business Value of Games
Kelly explains the theoretical and practical value of games in business, including the use of game design in creating new systems and the role of games in negotiation, strategy, and innovation.

00:41:34 – Conclusion
What stuck with you while listening to the episode? What are you going to try? Come share it with Melina on social media — you’ll find her as @thebrainybiz everywhere and as Melina Palmer on LinkedIn.

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