Tools of the Trade | March / April 2018

New mobile game entertains users while providing insights to behavioral scientists.


Two economics professors at the University of Miami School of Business Administration in Florida have developed a mobile game that not only will entertain players, but also will offer researchers the opportunity to study interactive behavior in action. Blues and Reds, created by assistant professors Konrad Grabiszewski and Alex Horenstein, is a puzzle game in which, with every move, players must make a decision that will be more likely to result in their ending on a blue node. If they end a round on a blue node, they win and can move on to the next level; if they end on red, the computer wins and their play stops.

The game consists of 58 levels of puzzles to solve. Each level offers a player just one “life,” except for levels of play in what’s called the Immortal Level.

What makes the game of interest to researchers is the fact that players who download the app provide their home country, age, and gender. As they play the game, researchers can identify which demographic groups make the most logical or illogical decisions in each interactive situation. Players who complete all 58 levels also are shown how well they performed compared to others in different demographic groups.

“The main objectives are to identify the percentages of users who are able to win levels in Blues and Reds and also to understand what determines these percentages,” says Grabiszewski. “Addressing these questions is important because it will allow scientists to develop better theories of interactive behavior.”

Horenstein emphasizes that the popularity of gaming apps means that researchers have a tool to access, all at once, millions of people across all demographics, which will provide a rich new field of behavioral study. “Blues and Reds,” he says, “is just the beginning of this new and fascinating chapter in social sciences.

Blues and Reds is available for iOS and Android devices. Visit