The BrainHex icon represents different parts of the brain that respond to games and play, and each BrainHex class icon shows the parts of the brain involved in a particular class. There are seven BrainHex classes, each shown on the image to the right next to the part of the icon that relates to that style of play. But what does each of those shapes on the BrainHex icon actually mean?
Each of the classes is associated with a particularly play style. So the Seeker, for instance, enjoys seeking (exploring, looking for interesting things) while the Survivor enjoys escaping from threats, and the Mastermind enjoys solving problems. Each of these different play styles activates different parts of the brain, although all of them activate the pleasure centre (shown in the centre) to some degree or other.
The following are descriptions of how the brain relates to the seven different play styles in BrainHex:
- Seeker (Seek): finding wonderful and curious things is what the Seeker enjoys. This stimulates the part of the brain that processes sensory information (the sensory cortices) as well as the memory association centres (hippocampus). This produces a chemical called endomorphin whenever we see something interesting or curious. The circle at the top of the icon thus represents this interest mechanism.
- Survivor (Escape): some people hate feeling terror, but some people really enjoy the intense excitement of escaping from a terrifying threat. Fear is an experience produced by a particular part of the brain known as the amygdala. The large diamond to the left of the icon represents the amygdala, and the experience of fear.
- Daredevil (Rush): this play style is all about the thrill of the chase, the excitement of risk taking and generally living on the edge. Excitement of any kind involves adrenalin, which is technically known as epinephrine. This is represented by the small diamond to the left of the icon, which is lit up for the Survivor, Daredevil and Conqueror classes, since these all involve excitement.
- Mastermind (Solve): a fiendish puzzle that defies solution or a problem that requires strategy to overcome is the essence of fun to this class. Whenever we face puzzles or must devise strategies, the decision centre of the brain (the orbito-frontal cortex) is involved. This is represented by the square on the BrainHex icon. Because the decision centre is very closely tied to the reward centre (see below) the Mastermind class shows both the circles in the centre lit up (most other classes show only one circle in the centre lit up).
- Conqueror (Defeat): some players aren't satisfied with winning easily - they want to struggle against adversity and fight tooth and nail for victory. When we are up against impossible odds, the body produces both epinephrine (adrenalin) and norepinephrine. This latter chemical riles us up, gets us angry and motivated, and when we eventually earn victory the result is especially rewarding. It is represented by the small diamond on the right of the icon. Like the Mastermind, the rewards of struggling against adversity are particular intense so both circles in the centre are lit up in the Conqueror class icon.
- Socialiser (Relate): people are fun to the Socialiser - they like talking to them, they like helping them, they like being around them. There is a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus which serves as the social centre of the brian. The hypothalamus is represented by the large diamond on the right of the icon. When relating positively with other people, a chemical known as oxytocin is produced from this region, which gives a feeling of unity. This in turn is rewarding, and hence the Socialiser icon also has one of the centre circles lit up.
- Achiever (Collect): the Achiever is the most goal-oriented of all the classes, and players who enjoy this play style will collect and complete everything they can find – no grind is too arduous for such a player! All the individual classes involve the pleasure centre (nucleus accumbens) which is shown in the centre of the BrianHex icon as a double-line circle. Three of the patterns – Mastermind, Conqueror and Achiever – have both of the circles lit up to show that they are especially rewarding, and hence addictive. All the others have a single circle lit up in the centre.
This final diagram shows the parts of the brain (red text) and the chemicals (light green text) involved in each of the seven mechanisms discussed here. Remember, whichever BrainHex class applies, the pleasure centre (nucleus accumbens) and the related chemical dopamine are involved in the play. It is the release of this chemical – through curiosity, victory, socialising or completing goals – that makes play such a rewarding experience for us all. Additionally, excitement (adrenalin or epinephrine) can significantly enhance the enjoyment that we feel.
With the subclass icons, all the parts of the brain involved in both classes are lit up, but in different colours. The primary class is shown in red, and the secondary class is shown in blue. If the two classes both light up the same area, only the red is shown. In this way, it is possible to look at any BrainHex class or subclass icon and see which parts of the brain are most active for a player of that class.
We hope you enjoyed learning about your BrainHex class and welcome any questions you might have!