For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the concept of repetition. There’s something about how we as humans derive joy from doing things over and over again that has always intrigued me, from the simple pleasures of throwing a ball back and forth to the more complex challenges of mastering a video game. Repetition is a universal source of satisfaction and fulfilment for people of all ages. Children love playing hide and seek, adolescents enjoy watching the same movie several times and playing a video game is about resolving tasks. In a way, repetition is about mastery and control.

Keep playing a game, an intent to overcome and resolve trauma in fantasy sceneries, Freud might have said. Self-actualization! Maslow might remark.

This video of a dog throwing and catching a ball really speed up my thoughts.

It’s fascinating to note that repetition plays a significant role in addiction and in involuntary phenomena. In my research on Game Transfer Phenomena, I have observed how gamers often continue to re-experience game content even after they have finished playing. This can include auditory replays of music, recurrent (pseudo) hallucinations, intrusive thoughts, stereotypical behaviors, and repetitive dream content. These phenomena can sometimes manifest as symptoms of illnesses, but even non-clinical populations may experience them to some extent at some point. 

It is like our mind becoming fixated on certain thoughts, behaviors, or sensory content, almost like a broken record that keeps playing over and over. This can bring both pleasure and pain – pleasure in the moment of indulging in the repetition and compulsive behavior, but pain in the knowledge that it is uncontrolled and intrusive.  

When I began my exploration of GTP, I never anticipated the depth of knowledge and insight I could uncover. I hope my research can help us gain valuable insights into these phenomena.

From what I’ve gathered by looking at gamers’ experiences, it seems that exposure to new things can really excite and sometimes overwhelm our senses to the degree that game content keeps re-appearing. It’s also interesting how satisfying it can be to keep trying to beat a tough part of a game over and over again with such compulsion that the notion of time disappears. But it can also be hard to disconnect from the game once we stop playing, and we might even start to see or hear things from the game when there’s actually nothing there.

Our brain seems to crave stimulation so much that it doesn’t want to miss out on any chance to be excited! This can be especially true when in a state of sensory deprivation, such as when our eyes are closed. And sometimes, when engaging in daily chores like taking a shower or even walking on days with a blue and cloudless sky. Seeing images, hearing sounds, and getting stuck in game-related thoughts once experienced in the game can arise when not actively playing. Sometimes, all it takes is encountering an object that resembles something from a game to trigger those memories and bring back the game content.

Our brain can get stuck particularly on incomplete or unresolved situations and keep replaying them in our minds—resonances of the uncontrolled and fixated nature of the mind.