Smell, memory and games. Exploring the potential of the sense of smell in memory games.

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Smell, memory and games. Exploring the potential of the sense of smell in memory games.

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Publication 2-year master student thesis
Title Smell, memory and games. Exploring the potential of the sense of smell in memory games.
Author(s) Barnier, Maxime
Date 2015
English abstract
This study is focused on the impact of smell on the memory in the context of games. The aim is to understand what the effects of smell on human’s memorization and learning process are. The research topic is explored through creating a memory game designed specifically for the study: “Guess My Face”. In this game, the players have to memorize pictures of faces parts using their specific scents. The game’s goal is to manage to compose a random face provided by the game with the face parts that the players learned. However, the difficulty lies in the fact that the players do not see the face parts pictures during the game and so, have to rely on their sense of smell alone. The game intends to contribute to the research area in different ways. First, it provides a technological solution for involving the inclusion of smell in games by using smell boxes connected to the computer. Second, the playtestings of the game highlight issues that a game designer has to take account by involving smell: balancing the strengths of the scents, participants experiencing dizziness after smelling a lot of different scents, the amount of time that smells remain in the air, the fact that coffee can be used to neutralize scents. Finally, the game contributes to the exploration of the way that smell triggers memories and how it could help for enhancing learning. Through the iterations of testing, the study reveals that smell is a sense that people do not often rely on for memorizing and they prefer visual memory. Moreover, we learn that players memorize pictures more easily when scent is involved, as they use several cognitive strategies or reflexes: characterizing the scents with adjectives or identifying their origin (fruits, woods), involving emotions (disgust, strangeness), and relying on personal experience (creating a link between a scent and picture thanks to the memory of a person/object/event). This cognitive behaviour shows that smell has the potential to enhance memory by creating meaningful knowledge and making the assimilation of information easier, an arena that has been dealt with by George Miller in his ’chunking theory’ (Thompson et al., 2005).
Publisher Malmö högskola/Kultur och samhälle
Pages 53
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) smell
hybrid digital/physical
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