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365 The Hidden Power of Games, Their Impact on Us, and Why They Matter with Kelly Clancy, Neuroscientist and Author of “Playing With Reality”

Monday 15th July 2024
FYD EPISODE 365 Kelly Clancy

On this episode of Christopher Lochhead: Follow Your Different, we engage in a captivating discussion with neuroscientist and author, Kelly Clancy.

We explore the profound impact of games on human behavior and society, highlighting their dual nature as both trivial pastimes and cognitive tools. Kelly delves into how games shape intelligence, social structures, and even political systems.

The conversation also touches on the gamification of life, the role of games in learning and social bonding, and the potential benefits and pitfalls of gaming. This episode offers a fresh perspective on the universal appeal and transformative power of games.

You’re listening to Christopher Lochhead: Follow Your Different. We are the real dialogue podcast for people with a different mind. So get your mind in a different place, and hey ho, let’s go.

Kelly Clancy on the Dual Nature of Games

Kelly Clancy introduces the concept of the dual nature of games, highlighting their role as both simple entertainment and complex cognitive tools. Games are often dismissed as mere pastimes, but they serve as mental scaffolding that helps individuals understand and navigate complex social systems.

Games have played a significant role throughout history, shaping intelligence and social structures. From ancient board games to modern video games, they have been instrumental in teaching strategic thinking, cooperation, and competition.

Understanding Complex Social Systems through Games

Christopher and Kelly discuss how games serve as a framework for understanding societal rules and structures. Games like Monopoly can illustrate the foundational thinking behind economic systems such as capitalism and socialism.

Kelly emphasizes the universal nature of play across species and its evolutionary significance. Games are not just a human phenomenon; they are observed in various animal species, highlighting their fundamental role in development and social bonding.

Games as Tools of Learning

Throughout history, games have been used as tools for conflict resolution and social bonding. They provide a structured environment for competition and cooperation, helping to resolve disputes and build relationships.

Uncertainty is also a key aspect of games that captivates the brain and drives learning. The unpredictability of outcomes keeps players engaged and motivated to improve their skills.

Games also serve as a window into understanding human behavior. The spectator element of games, such as watching sports or eSports, allows individuals to observe and analyze the actions and strategies of others.

To hear more from Kelly Clancy and the hidden power of Games, download and listen to this episode.


Kelly Clancy is a distinguished neuroscientist and author, known for her contributions to understanding biological information processing and agency. Her research has been funded by prestigious fellowships, including those from HFSP, EMBO, and the Branco Weiss Fellowship. Kelly’s work delves into the principles of sensory representations and the interplay between agency and sensory perception in the brain. She has published extensively in top scientific journals and has received the Regeneron Prize for Innovation in Biomedicine.

Kelly’s debut book, Playing with Reality: How Games Have Shaped Our World, explores the impact of games on human cognition and society. Her essays have been featured in renowned publications such as Harper’s Magazine, Wired, and The New Yorker, reflecting her talent for making complex scientific concepts accessible and engaging to the public. Her interdisciplinary approach bridges neuroscience and literature, making her a prominent voice in contemporary science communication​.


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We hope you enjoyed this episode of Christopher Lochhead: Follow Your Different™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on FacebookX (formerly Twitter)Instagram, and subscribe on Apple Podcast / Spotify!