My article examining Game Transfer Phenomena during the pandemic has been published in the Entertainment Computing journal. “Coping with COVID-19 pandemic stressors: Comparisons between non-players and players, and levels of Game Transfer Phenomena.”

In this study, I wanted to explore if playing video games offered some benefits during the pandemic and who was more susceptible to the pandemic stressors.

Specifically, this study compared differences in coping with the pandemic stressors, emotion regulation, and resilience between non-players and players who may or may not have incorporated game content in everyday context [i.e., experienced Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP)]. The study also examined the impact of GTP on both the perception of self and the world.

Download the full study.

Main findings

  • Players and non-players showed no differences in emotion regulation or resilience.
  • Most players (84.2%) reported GTP during the pandemic, percentage comparable  to previous studies.
  • More players experienced positive (vs. negative) impacts of GTP during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Cognitive reappraisal and resilience were related to the positive impacts of GTP.
  • Individuals with high levels of resilience and cognitive reappraisal tended to cope positively with GTP, and they may have taken advantage of their GTP experiences.
  • Those with GTP were more anxious due to pandemic stressors.
  • COVID preventive behaviours and fears were related with a negative impact of GTP.
  • Perceiving trivial chores as fun and feeling creative or smart were the most common positive impacts of GTP, while feeling frustrated, nervous, anxious, or insane were the most common negative impacts of GTP.
  • The findings in the study suggest that attention should be paid to players who experience GTP more frequently and in various forms, particularly to individuals whose GTP has a negative impact on their perception of the self or the world because these individuals may be more prone to experiencing distress and dysfunction because of GTP.

Some remarks about GTP based on the study:

“It is essential to keep in mind that GTP experiences are not necessarily positive or negative; importance should be placed on how the individual appraises their experiences. It is crucial to provide information about GTP and support players in making sense of their experiences. 

If players interpret GTP positively, they may be able to benefit from these spontaneous phenomena through various means, including modifying pessimistic perceptions of the world and themselves.

On the contrary, if GTP is interpreted negatively, maladaptive coping styles can exacerbate distress and, in extreme cases, provoke impairment (e.g., cause one to avoid stimuli that resemble the game, question their own mental stability, etc.).”

GTP were assessed via a validated scale with 20 items. We have validated the GTP scale in English, Spanish, Turkish and Polish. If someone is interested in validating it in another language, do not hesitate to contact me.

Prevalence of GTP in the sample:

Most players (84.2%) reported GTP during the pandemic, a percentage equally high as in previous studies.

The most common form of GTP reported by players in the sample was automatic thoughts (71%). This was followed by auditory experiences (69%), visual experiences (62%), bodily experiences (48%) and lastly, behaviours or actions (47%).

Specifically, the types of GTP that were reported by at least 67% of the sample during the pandemic were the following:

  • Hearing music from the game
  • Still being in the mindset of a game after I have stopped playing (e.g. trying to align and match real-life objects or constantly thinking about ways to apply strategies from a game in real life).
  • Thinking about using something from a video game in real life (e.g., wanting to use the scope zoom to see faraway objects).
  • Visualising or seeing images with closed eyes (e.g. seeing images static or in a movement when closing my eyes or in the back of the eyelids).
  • Hearing sound effects from a game
  • Wanting or feeling the urge to do something in real life after seeing something that reminds the video game (e.g. feeling the urge to climb buildings after playing)
  • Misinterpreting a sound in real life as something from a video game.