“When playing Pokémon, I would suddenly run into long grass hoping to find some rare animals there”
Pokemon behavior_no frame

Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP) have been reported in over 400 unique titles. These include both old and modern video games.

I think we will hear GTP experiences from gamers playing Pokémon GO as well with a little twist.

Here is an overview of the GTP experiences I have encountered related to Pokémon (before Pokémon GO) along my studies on Game Transfer Phenomena.

Please let me know me how familiar these experiences sound to you or if you have already experienced some GTP when playing Pokémon GO. I just started playing it.

Visual experiences

Having visualised or seen images with closed eyes or in the back of the eyelids were reported by 77% of gamers in a survey (n=2,236).

In terms of Pokémon, gamers have reported visualisations of Pokémon battles in the mind or imagined Pokémon in the real world.

 “Imagine Pokémon in the world around me. As I walk round a park I expect Pikachu”

This imagery has actually become true with Pokémon GO!.

Other gamers have confused objects from the game with those in real life. For example one gamer said:

“I sweard I saw a Wingull flying ”


Spontaneous thoughts

A variety of thoughts about the Pokémon games related to the contents or the game mechanics have been reported.

For example one gamer explained that when playing Pokémon Snap, he couldn’t look at “anything” without thinking of taking a picture of it and on another occasion he found himself thinking how to take photos of random things and make a collage of it.

Gamers have also reported that names from the games have popped up in the mind instead of actual words when referring to things. A gamer said he could not remember how “pigeons” were called, instead the word “Pidgey” from the game Pokémon Silver came to his mind. If you wonder why it is not just for the similarity between the words but because this Pokémon is also a bird!


Another gamer said that at one time when he was trying to go to sleep after playing Pokémon, he jumped out of the bed and “really freaked out” as he described it, when he realised that it was not possible to sleep in the Pokémon games. He wanted to press the Start button to save.

Auditory experiences

In general hearing music from video games is more common than hearing sounds or character voices. According to a survey on GTP with 2,236 participants 74% had heard music from the game after playing.

Gamers have reported getting the Pokémon game music stuck in their head for prolonged periods of time.

Some gamers have actually checked if they left their computer on by mistake because the music seemed to come from “outside”.

musicstuck no frame

Also, some gamers have had multi-sensory experiences like hearing the music while at the same time seeing Pokémon related images when not playing.

Others have mistaken real world sounds with those from the game. One gamer reported that he heard the music when it actually was another sound.

“I thought I heard Pokémon songs when I was vacuuming … When I turned the vacuum cleaner off, it stopped”

Also sounds from the game have been reported. For example hearing the “move selection”-beep.


A variety of automatic behaviours have been reported. Verbal outbursts or saying something involuntary with contents from the game was the most commonly reported experience in terms of behaviours (58%) in a survey on GTP (n=2,236).

“When playing Pokémon, I would suddenly run into long grass hoping to find some rare animals there”

One gamer used a phrase from the game in real life unintentionally when running a track race: “Nick use Baton Pass” (A Baton Pass is a move in the Pokémon games where the player can switch to another Pokémon during battle).

“Pokémon. Running track I passed A baton to the next person. I YELLED “NICK USE BATON PASS!”


Another gamer reported that after having played Pokémon FireRed for a while he tried to avoid being seen by people.

Also mix-ups between controlling the game and real life have been reported. One gamer said that after having played Pokémon Sapphire intensively he tried to

“turn back without turning to the left or right for like an entire minute before remembering that you can’t do that in real life”.

Do any of the above Game Transfer Phenomena experiences sound familiar to you? Have you experienced something similar with Pokémon GO? I have heard that some gamers have visualised the map from Pokémon GO in their mind. You are very welcome to share!

Here you can read my own GTP experiences and insights from the first time I played the game.

Further reading:

Ortiz de Gortari A. B., & Griffiths M. D. (2016b). Prevalence and Characteristics of Game Transfer Phenomena: A Descriptive Survey StudyInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 32(6), 470-480.

Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014). Auditory experiences in Game Transfer Phenomena: An empirical self-report study. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning 4(1), 59-75.

Ortiz de Gortari, A., & Griffiths, M. (2014). Automatic Mental Processes, Automatic Actions and Behaviours in Game Transfer Phenomena: An Empirical Self-Report Study Using Online Forum DataInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 1-21.

Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014). Altered Visual Perception in Game Transfer Phenomena: An Empirical Self-Report StudyInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 30(2), 95-105.

Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., Aronsson, K., & Griffiths, M. D. (2011). Game Transfer Phenomena in video game playing: A qualitative interview study. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning, 1(3), 15-33.

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