Psychology is perhaps the most evident social discipline to turn to regarding virtual worlds. After all, a lot in the online gaming communities has to with the mind and imagination. Still, most psychologists agree that these digital societies may aid individuals to gain valuable socio-cognitive skills, while use of games in education, training and simulation remains widespread. As a brief aside, Gestalt (a Berlin school of thought) psychologists were the first to notice certain rules governing the psyche, which they called the laws of perception.

Websites such as Second Life may be said to truly be named for what they stand for. Indeed, Second Life represents a sort of alternate world, with its own structure, groups, opportunities, self-images, and most likely, caveats. Cyberpsychologists would look at something like the aforementioned. Cyberpsychology is interested in the mind and behavior as they are expressed in cyberspace.


What is depicted? Even before computerized tests, imagery was used in psychology in projective tests. In such psychological assessments, the responder is asked to tell a story based on an image, or to describe the object in the picture. The Rorschach or inkblot test is one such example. Image: Copyright ©

Interestingly, alongside Disney animators’ heuristics for animation (Johnston & Thomas, 1981), there appear to be similar rules of thumb when it comes to video game design. Naturally, the worlds of animation and video gaming are very close, both can be 2d and 3d, use avatars and graphics. Consequently, Pinelle et al. (2008) outline the following items that should contribute to a successful (thus entertaining, challenging, stimulating and not too difficult, repetitive or tedious) computer, video or console game: consistency, customizability, predictability, proper views, opportunities skipping non-playable content, input mappings, controls, game status, training and help, in addition to visual representations. Nonetheless, the authors warn that their proposed principles may apply to only certain categories of games.


  • Johnston, O. & Thomas, F. (1981).  Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life. Abbeville Press.
  • Pinelle, D., Wong, N. & Stach, T. (2008). Heuristic evaluation for games: Usability principles for video game design. CHI 2008 Proceedings – Game Zone, April 5-10: Florence, Italy.