Many video gamers experience images, sounds and sensations from games in their real worlds
Almost all video gamers who responded to an online survey about ‘Game Transfer Phenomena’ claimed to have experienced some form of it – with images, sounds or urges from their games being transferred into their real worlds.
A study of more than 2,000 gamers from 78 countries by cyber-psychologists at Nottingham Trent University found that 97% self-reported having experienced at least one type of GTP. The vast majority (95%) also reported having experienced GTP more than once.
The research, carried out by Dr Angelica Ortiz de Gortari and Professor Mark Griffiths of the university’s School of Social Sciences, is published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction. It is the latest by the university to examine GTP, a common occurrence responsible for gamers experiencing altered perceptions, involuntary thoughts and behaviours after playing.
Participants were recruited via online gaming forums and social networks, and almost two-thirds who responded described themselves as ‘hard-core gamers’.
Almost a third (31%) reported seeing images from their games in real life, despite having their eyes open, and almost three quarters (74%) heard the music from the game after they had finished playing. About two-thirds (65%) claimed to have heard sounds from their game and almost a half (46%) said they had heard a character’s voice.
More than half of gamers (51%) had experienced sensations of movement as though in their videogame and 58% said they had sung, shouted or said something from their videogames unintentionally. Almost half (44%) claimed to have had a reflex body reaction associated with a videogame.
Three quarters (75%) had thought about using an object from a video game in real life, while a similar number (72%) had felt the urge to do something in real life after seeing something which reminded them of their game.
GTP was found to occur after playing a wide variety of games – the most prevalent genres were adventure games, reported by 54% of gamers, and roleplaying games, 53%.
Most experiences occurred after playing – hours after playing for 47% and/or directly after playing for 42%. More gamers reported GTP when doing daytime activities (62%) than while lying in bed (31%) or falling asleep (28%).
While 20% had been distressed and 14% confused due to their GTP experience, 26% had pleasant feelings associated with it, and 21% said that they wanted it to reoccur.
Research psychologist Dr Angelica Ortiz de Gortari said: “It was unexpected to find such a high prevalence of GTP in the sample. Our study highlights how ever-present videogame content is in gamers’ lives and how playing can induce a wide range of altered perceptions, sensations, spontaneous thoughts and actions.
“However, it is important to note that in most cases, when gamers have reported reviving images or sounds when not playing, they knew that these were not real.
“Many GTP occur triggered by associations between in-game elements and real-world stimuli. If we can understand the effects of particular game features on the individual, we can take more informed decisions on their use in virtual products for promoting health, education or entertainment, and for reducing potential unwanted effects.”
Professor Mark Griffiths, Director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, said: “Our first published study on this topic in 2011 comprised interviews with 42 players and for the first time shed light on the different types of GTP, as well as its varying degrees of intensity. This study builds heavily upon that work and suggests that GTP is not a rarity, but in fact commonplace among regular gamers.”