Lately, I have received many comments and questions about VR and Game Transfer Phenomena, so I thought to share one of my papers in this regard.


The imminent introduction of highly immersive technologies for entertainment that bring exciting possibilities for the users raises important questions regarding the impact on their well-being. Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP) suggests similarities between gamers’ experiences reported after playing on conventional devices and side effects of highly immersive technologies (e.g., head-up displays, highly realistic virtual environments). The aim of this paper is to discuss the challenges highly immersive technologies posit to the malleable human mind, taking into account not only the side-effects of the virtual immersion manifesting as physical symptoms, but also the psychosocial implications.

The biggest challenge in terms of the occurrence of GTP is that even though GTP are more likely to take place shortly after playing [13], as is the case with the side effects of highly immersive technologies, the effects can be activated a long time afterwards, when triggered by automatic associations between physical stimuli and stimuli simulated in the game [12].
Some GTP may be reduced or disappear after repetitive exposure as happens with symptoms of cybersickness [23], while others may be strengthened due to the repetitive exposure and some gamers may even become hypersensitive to certain stimuli (e.g., visual, aural).

Many post-effects may depend not only on the medium, that among other things would enhance the degree of presence in the virtual world by stimulating more sensorial channels, but mostly on the content of the games. Individual susceptibility plays a crucial role since to start with the sense of presence is mediated by individual characteristics (e.g., age, users’ abilities to allocate attention or focus on a stimuli) [49], and some individuals may respond to one or other stimuli.
Only a small minority appears to have experienced GTP as a negative post-effect of playing video games and some even wanted them to occur again [13], although one in five of the participants in a survey with 2,362 gamers reported distress or were affected socially, occupationally or in other areas of their day-to-day functioning due to experiencing GTP [12].

Immersing in virtual reality does not impair our ability to distinguish reality, but permeates the way we define reality and mishaps after the exposure can come along. The positive or negative implications of those mishaps may depend on the appraisal users do of their non-volitional experiences, the individual executive control when not performing automatic actions, and the circumstances where these occur; therefore, investigating, informing and demystifying post-play phenomena are essential.

Download the full paper GTP & VR

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