Looking for help programming a flash game to do a psychology study
December 5, 2007 10:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm a social psychologist looking for some advice about where to find a programmer to write what would basically be a very simple flash-type game. The game itself would require some simple user-interactiveness (e.g. selecting options), a fairly low level of graphics (maybe not stick figures, but nothing too artsy), and the ability to collect and store user data. Any suggestions?

I don't have a huge budget, but I can pay somewhere in the range of $500-$2000 depending on the job.

The idea is simply to have people be able to "play a game" and essentially be doing a psychology experiment. For instance, one thing I study is sunk cost -- the tendency to persist in an "investment" even after it starts failing in order to justify the original investment. In a game setting, I could see it playing out this way: you are the head mechanic of a racing team and your job is to fix up your car to win races. (There could also be an actual racing component of the game -- but this would be just for fun, not actually necessary). The sunk cost would come into it as follows -- you have to decide at Time 1 whether or not you would like to enter a race and pay the fee -- this would be a sunk cost -- then before the race you would find (sometimes) that your car has a high chance of breaking down and costing you a huge amount of money in repairs. The question would be whether people who had to decide in advance to pay an entry fee would be more likely to race despite the risk. Just one example...

What I would need is a program that puts this into a simple game format and can collect and save user data for analysis (players would be asked if they consented to participate in an experiment before starting, though the hypothesis wouldn't be revealed to them until after they play).

Any suggestions as to how to find someone to help me do this? I talked to someone who suggested that I outsource it to Indian programmers - is that a sensible thing to look into?

posted by socialpsychologist to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You could post it in Jobs.
posted by amyms at 10:56 PM on December 5, 2007

Are you at a university? Posting an ad in or near computer science buildings with an email address (not a number! Nobody wants to call you!) ought to get you a response or several. Heck, even if you're not at a university, there's got to be one nearby. Undergrads are poor and many would love to pad their resumes with a job like this.
posted by crinklebat at 11:02 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]

You could try asking the people at Reach Out! (part of Inspire) which developed a Flash game based on CBT to aid youths with depression. They're Australia-based but could give you some resources.
posted by divabat at 12:52 AM on December 6, 2007

Perhaps something like Rentacoder?
posted by shivohum at 7:55 AM on December 6, 2007

Do you need to present your program over the internet? If not, there are a few packages/programs that are specifically designed to be easy to code things for.

One, for example, is "Presentation" from Neurobehavioral Systems ($240/yr). link

Another somewhat commonly used system is Eprime, which is quite a bit more expensive. ($700)

Both of these packages are designed to be easy to use for simple behavioral paradigms like the one you describe.

Another great package is PsychToolbox, which runs under Matlab. It is a little harder to get started with, but the package is free (Matlab is a very expensive program that is usually heavily subsidized on university campuses; on my campus, it is $125 to purchase, and then 20$ per year).

Anyhow, Presentation and Eprime are easy enough for any computer science student to pick up in an instant, and Psychtoolbox, since it runs under Matlab, will essentially be in a language familiar to many engineering students. Id estimate that you could have your paradigm programmed in 20 hours * 15$ after the cost of acquiring these programs.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 2:05 PM on December 6, 2007

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