Science Fiction often acts as a metaphorical mirror of our collective perspective toward technology, often depicting technophobia or technophilia. It is significant seeing Game Transfer Phenomena portrayed in this context.
It is not common that academic research inspires an international TV series. I was surprised to see my research featured on the American series CSI, as a result of my PhD at Nottingham Trent University supervised by Professor Mark D. Griffiths.
Here are some extracts from the story covered by NTU press in June 2015.
The CSI: Cyber episode – which features Patricia Arquette and James Van Der Beek – aired in the US on May 13 and shows video gamers performing activities from a game in real-life contexts. The characters mentioned GTP, a term which Angelica coined herself, to explain the behaviour of a gamer who thought he could jump from one roof to another.
As one FBI agent said: “We just witnessed a prime example of Game Transfer Phenomena, or what we call “GTP under the influence”. There’s a documented history of videogamers experiencing involuntary impulses to perform gaming actions in the real world. The more they play the game, the more they are in the game, in real life. Corey thought that he could jump to that other balcony to escape because he’d done it so many times in the game.”
Angelica said: “I couldn’t believe it. I was already excited when I saw the text on the screen saying “Game Transfer Phenomena” but close to the end of the episode when the FBI agents were talking about it, I almost fell off my chair. It made me reflect on the implications of how research findings can be used for different purposes and agenda – and the responsibility we have as researchers about reporting our findings and in the way we report them.
“Besides the controversy that it can generate portraying gamers potentially harming themselves, the storyline does resemble gamers’ reports to a certain degree. Although gamers typically only experience thoughts and urge to do something, including climbing and jumping from buildings and rarely perform the action.
“The duality between reality and fantasy has always been popular and controversial, which is probably why GTP appealed to the drama so much. According to the stats on my blog, some people who viewed the episode have been checking if the concept of GTP is real or fabricated.”
Content of the episode
In the first segment, this appears after the title sequence:
“Game transfer phenomena – when gamers believe they can mimic the physical abilities of their on-line avatar in the real world.”
In the second segment, a gamer jumps from a roof thinking he can reach another roof, and the agents argue he was under the influence of GTP.
In research about GTP gamers have reported thoughts and urge to do something as in the game in day-to-day context, but in most of the cases they have held back their impulses. Resemblances of situations or physical objects simulated in the game appear to trigger many of the GTP experiences reported to date. Although, it is worth noticing, that acting out such an “extreme” behaviour is very rare.
Here is the transcript of the segment:
Elijah: Corey told the paramedics he ran because he had drugs. Now, the charge for drug paraphernalia is virtually nothing. And then he jumps. He had to have known he wasn’t gonna make it.
Avery: We just witnessed a prime example of Game Transfer Phenomena, or what we call “GTP under the influence”.
Elijah: GTP? Sounds like something they’ll be selling a pill for soon. (laughs)
Avery: There’s a documented history of videogamers experiencing involuntary impulses to perform gaming actions in the real world. The more they play the game, the more they are in the game, in real life. Corey thought that he could jump to that other balcony to escape.
Male voice: You got to jump, man! …
Avery: because he’d done it so many times in the game.
Elijah: That-That’s just plain crazy.