It is easy to imagine how Augmented Reality technologies will transform, enhance or distort our everyday perceptions by superimposing vivid synthetic images on real world sceneries.

Localization-based quasi-augmented reality games such as Ingress and more recently Pokémon Go, offer possibilities to get the first insights of Game Transfer Phenomena and Augmented Reality (AR).

I was particularly thrilled to investigate GTP in Pokémon Go, a game of massive appeal and positive attributes.

Four out of five Pokémon Go gamers (80.9%) reported having experienced some type of GTP at some point (n=1,085). This is relatively many but less than in previous studies I have conducted with other video games (e.g., 96%). These findings raise other questions.

Could playing a game, which includes digital images that are superimposed and seemingly merged with sceneries and objects of the physical world be related to gamers’ reports of seeing images from the game after playing or misperceiving objects from the real world with those from the game?

To my surprise, Pokémon Go gamers tend to not play with the AR function enabled. According to a preliminary analysis of one of my explorative surveys on Pokémon Go (n=196), only 38% used the AR function.

Playing with the AR function enabled increases the battery usage, and some gamers also say that the AR function makes it harder to capture Pokémon due to lack of precision.

Interestingly, playing with the AR function was not significantly associated to experiencing almost any of the visual related GTP, only for misperceptions of physical objects.

Moreover, more of those who played with the AR function enabled reported perceptual distortions of objects/environments and less reported seeing images related with Pokémon Go after playing (with closed or open eyes).

It seems that seeing images overlaid on real life context may facilitate confusing objects later on in the physical world with something from the game, this may be explained because our brains tend to interpret stimuli based on previous experiences. Gamers have reported confusing birds with planes from a video game in previous studies.


These findings leave us with speculative thoughts. It appears that the time of exposure to the video game images, the type of images (e.g., brightness, colour), and individual factors may be more important to re-experiencing images from the game after playing than the actual use of the AR feature.

In a previous study, gamers have reported seeing images after playing very repetitive games and playing for prolonged periods of times. Gamers have also seen images of game tags, text boxes and power bars triggered by associations in real world sceneries.

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Another interesting finding was regarding playing the game with or without sound. 57% played Pokémon Go with sound. Playing with the sound on was related to experiencing hearing music and sounds when not playing and also misperceptions of real life sounds with those from the game. This finding shows the importance of the exposure to video game features! How many times has the music got stuck in your head after listening to a song?

What kind of images do gamers re-experience after playing? Afterimages?, hallucinations?, imaginations? How do you qualify your GTP experiences? How does the interplay work between physiological, perceptual and cognitive mechanisms involved in gamers’ sensorial experiences?

In my research, I have identified diverse types of GTP that seem to be explained by related but different mechanisms. We need to research more into this matter.

I wonder what ventures augment reality/mixed reality will bring us? I am excited to keep exploring!

In my next post, I will tell you more about my findings regarding the use of the AR function and playing Pokémon Go with sound!

Further reading:

  1. Ortiz de Gortari, A. B. (2017). Game Transfer Phenomena and the Augmented Reality Game Pokémon Go: The prevalence and the relation with benefits, risks, immersion and motivations. Paper presented at the 22nd Annual CyberPsychology & Cyber Therapy Conference, Wolverhampton, UK.
  2. Ortiz de Gortari A. B., & Griffiths M. D. (2016). Prevalence and Characteristics of Game Transfer Phenomena: A Descriptive Survey StudyInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 32(6), 470-480.
  3. 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.
  4. Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014). Auditory experiences in Game Transfer Phenomena: An empirical self-report studyInternational Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning 4(1), 59-75.
  5. Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., Aronsson, K., & Griffiths, M. D. (2011). Game Transfer Phenomena in video game playing: A qualitative interview studyInternational Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning, 1(3), 15-33.

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