article (Mon Nov 12 2012)

Epistemic Explanation of Premature Rotation in Tetris

  • #ux
  • #designthinking
  • #cognitivescience

I just read the paper "On Distinguishing Epistemic from Pragmatic Action" by DAVID KIRSH AND PAUL MAGLIO. This paper attempted to provide evidence for epistemic memory model by conducting an experiment on one of the most loved games of all times - Tetris. A brilliant paper, it demonstrated how epistemic actions are the reason why advanced players are so good at it. One of the topics that it talks about is early rotation. Here's my take on it.In the game of Tetris, rotation is clearly an epistemic action. When playing the game, a player may rotate a zoid several times during its free fall. Based upon the observation of the players, not all the rotations are a consequence of cognitive analysis. This was evident from the fact that many players tried to rotate the zoids even far before they were completely visible on the screen. And this observation was made especially for expert players.The fact that early rotation can be accounted for a player's enchanced performance can be explained on the basis of the epistemic model. When the player rotates a zoid, well before his decision system is able to determine the correct rotation, this premature rotation gives the user an option to quickly match the various forms of the same figure the one in his/her mind. Since physical rotation takes lesser time as compared to cognitive rotation, the user therefore enhances his pattern recognition ability of the zoid by performing an premature rotation.Since the pragmatic model states that a user must have reached a decision such that an action takes him/her one step closer to the goal, such early rotations can only be explained on the basis of the epistemic model. Action may precede a decision as long as the outcome of the action is perceived to assist in the decision making progress instead of progress towards the objective.