Our work on Game Transfer Phenomena and gaming disorder at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 2023 Congress (RANZCP) in Perth, Australia, was featured in news.com.au, “Gaming disorder: Gamers may be seeing things that aren’t there”

My colleagues Huu Kim Le, Wai Chen, Antony Callan, Daniela Poynton from Fiona Stanley Hospital in Australia, Maria Panagiotidi and me, Angelica Ortiz de Gortari presented a case report on psychosis and GTP, and a study on ADHD, dissociations, gaming disorder and GTP.

“The involuntary phenomena observed in GTP do not only happen due to playing video games,” Dr de Gortari said.

“However, key factors involved in playing video games (usually for prolonged periods of time) such as sensory overload, high cognitive load, trance states and emotional engagement appear to ease the occurrence of such phenomena.”

A key part of the research is the distinction between things experienced by GTP and psychotic hallucinations, which can lead to a misdiagnosis.

Dr de Gortari said she wanted to “demystify” GTP so the condition wasn’t misinterpreted by the wider medical community.

“The occurrence of GTP invites us to reflect on our vulnerability to the exposure to synthetic stimuli and the challenges that the human mind will affront due to the technology advances that are still to come,” she said.

Read the full article

Highlights of the studies presented at the congress

  • It is important to differentiate between GTP and symptoms of psychosis to establish a differential diagnosis and provide individuals with the appropriate attention they need.
  • Evidence in the case study shows that the patient had susceptibility to GTP prior to being diagnosed with schizophrenia, which opens questions on the potential relevance of GTP in the development of schizophrenia in adulthood.
  • Both gaming disorder and GTP susceptibility can influence psychotic symptomatology.
  • Most gamers experienced GTP, while only a few suffered from gaming disorder.
  • Gaming disorder is strongly correlated with GTP.
  • Considering ADHD and dissociation susceptibility appear important when evaluating GD and GTP because 1) poor impulse control can lead to excessive playing and impulsive responses toward game-related cues, 2) failures in sustained attention can facilitate intrusions with game content, 3) tendency to dissociate can, for example, increase the sense of embodiment of game characters and absorption in the game leading to prolonged gaming sessions, and hence increasing the risk of excessive gaming.

Read the full abstracts