This week I was interviewed by Samit Sarkar from Polygon. He was wondering what this research can lead to in the end; what contributions can it make. So, I got motivated to remove the dust from some old writings and thoughts about the potential of GTP and give them some updates. Here are some areas where research about GTP can potentially contribute.
1. Understanding the post-effects of virtual immersion – Findings in the research can potentially help us to identify features (e.g. visual/auditory/haptic) in the video games that lead to either positive or undesirable effects. We can corroborate the experiences by observing video game features and in-game activities. A variety of GTP suggest that neuro-adaptive mechanisms are involved. To date, research that have addressed this question has been mainly conducted in high immersive environments and in virtual environment simulators but not with commercial video games.
2. Envisage what could be the effects of the use of augmented and wearable technologies -Some individuals are experiencing GTP simply by playing video games on the screen. This suggests that the use of head–mounted displays (e.g., Oculus Rift) and other virtual or augment technology may enhance these effects.
3. Developing effective engaging and learning video games – By identifying what features in the games are particularly appealing and how the association between auditory and visual stimuli are established.
4. Identify mind enhancement by playing video game – GTP studies have showed how skill acquired in the video games are applied to similar context as in the game (strategic thinking, fast responses time, visual memory).
5. Encourage responsible and safe gaming policies.
a. Demystify gamers’ experiences – Demystifying GTP experiences appear to be relevant to help gamers to interpret their own mental health, and stops gamers thinking it is a sign of psychological dysfunction; instead it encourages self-control, awareness and healthy gaming. In some cases, the misinterpretation of sensations or perceptions can result in anxiety and in extreme cases in the developing of pathologies. If we talk about GTP without been judgemental we may help the individuals that need it on time.
Here are some comments gamers have shared with me. This has really encouraged me to continue with my research.
“It is nice to see that all those weird things which have happen to me, when it feels that my gaming experiences are sort of bleeding into my reality, actually has a name, and it wasn’t just me :P”
“Oh and here was me thinking, my seeing and hearing things that weren’t real was just a symptom of my severe bipolar depression. Turns out I have just been gaming too hard. Phew! That’s a relief”
b. Encourage gamers to play responsibly and reflect about their gaming habits – When GTP manifest, the unconscious contents become conscious and we become aware about how the media we consume influence us. The manifestation of GTP have invited gamers to reflect about their gaming habits, while some may keep an eye in their gaming habits, others may play more to induce GTP.
c. Encourage responsible and safe gaming policies- Research about GTP has pointed out the relevance of examining video game features and the need to provide more health guidance in the manuals of the games. Small letters or links to webpages with more information seem to not be enough.
d. Responsible and safe use of augmented and wearable technologies – It seems crucial to promote research in this area to provide advice about the use of technologies and try to prevent side effects in susceptible individuals.
e. Developing programs for encouraging responsible gaming – Every day we see more researchers and clinicians contributing to the understanding of gaming related problems. This doesn’t mean that video games are bad but some individuals actually can develop unhealthy patterns of behaviours than can end in behavioural addiction. Last year, for the first time “Internet Gaming disorder” (as named in the DSM5) was included as a condition warranting more clinical research, but it still miss arguments for encouraging more preventing programs. I remember back in 1998, I wanted to do my thesis for become psychologist about the problematic use of Internet and my teachers looked at me like I was out of my mind. It took me quite some time to convince them and to get a supervisor.
6. Develop instruments to measure problematic gaming/gaming addiction– Development new ways to address problematic gaming and identify what factors contribute to the development and the prevalence of the symptoms.
7. Develop instruments that potentially can be used in court to evaluate cases where the participation of video games is claimed. This is something I have not thought about but Peter Wright from DigitalLawUK suggested:
“In extreme cases,” he said, “it is not difficult to imagine the police having a test for drivers that they pull over after seeing them drive erratically to check whether they are in full control of their senses. Currently, such tests are focused on alcohol and drug use, but if a driver were asked to take a few paces, strand on one leg, [and] answer a few questions, it may establish if the driver is experiencing Game Transfer Phenomenon.” (1).
8. Understand symptoms of mental disorders – Many GTP experiences share similarities with symptoms of pathologies, e.g. obsessive compulsive disorders, hallucinations, delirium, perseverative mental states observed in disorders such as spectrum of autism disorders and other phenomena such as phantom limb and epileptic seizures.
9. Achieving further understanding of phenomena which we don’t know enough about at this point – GTP involve physiological, perceptual and cognitive mechanism and potentially can encourage the use of video games as a tool for understanding a large variety of phenomena . E.g., mind wandering mechanisms, neural adaptations and the role of emotions, the participation of associations triggering after-images, visual after-effects, involuntary auditory replays, and general understanding non-volitional phenomena.
(1)Crawley, D. (2014). Seeing things: When gaming messes with reality — and your brain Retrieved 28 January, 2014, from http://venturebeat.com/2014/01/28/when-gaming-messes-with-reality/