The Psychology of Fun and Frustration

Friday, October 27, 2023 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)
Dr. Nick Bowman Guest Lecture

An enduring appeal of interactive entertainment media such as video games is that they invite the user to co-create the on-screen experience. More than an invitation, these experiences demand near-constant attention from players—and do so on myriad dimensions, including cognitive (problem-solving), emotional (affective reactions), apparatus (control or interface intuitiveness), exertional (physical activity) and social (attending to social agents). Individually and combined, these sources of demand are mediators for understanding the relationship between formal features of interactive media and intended (or unintended) outcomes of usage. This presentation will present and review an interactivity-as-demand model based on prior and ongoing research into video games and virtual reality technologies, with specific implications for game design and player psychology.

Register with Eventbrite!

This event will be held in a HYBRID format. Please join us in-person at the Games Institute, EC1 on the University of Waterloo campus or online through Microsoft Teams.


Nick Bowman (PhD, Michigan State University) is an Associate Professor of Emerging Media at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. His research focuses on the uses and effects of interactive and immersive media, with specific interests in social media, video games, and metaverse technologies. He has published more than 125 peer-reviewed manuscripts and co-authored more than 200 competitively selected conference presentations. He is the editor of Journal of Media Psychology and associate editor for Technology, Mind, and Behavior. Recently, he completed a term as the Fulbright Taiwan Wu Jing-Jyi Arts & Culture Fellow and the National Chengchi University in Taipei, where he was researching the cognitive, emotional, physical, and social demands of virtual reality experiences, including video gaming and digital advertising campaigns. He is a lifelong gamer, part-time mechanic, and an excited-yet-skeptical futurist.