Study 1. Altered Visual Perceptions in Game Transfer Phenomena


The aim of this study was to identify, classify, and explain gamers’ perceptual experiences referred to as Visual Game Transfer Phenomena (VGTP) to contribute to the understanding of the effects of post-video-game playing and encourage healthy and safe gaming. A total of 656 experiences from 483 gamers were collected from 54 online gaming forums. The findings suggest that intensive playing can result in misperceptions and visual distortions of real-life objects and environments, stereotypical visual experiences that arise from mind visualization, and pseudo-hallucinatory experiences with video game content. Gamers’ experiences can be explained by the interplay of physiological, perceptual, and cognitive mechanisms. Observation of video game features suggests that in most cases a relationship between the games’ structural characteristics, gamers’ VGTP experiences, and gamers’ playing habits appeared relevant. VGTP can occur while gaming, immediately after stopping play, or after some delay. Further VGTP characteristics and their psychosocial implications are discussed.

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Check out the summary about the study in my post:

Video games’ visual effects leaking into our reality

Main categories:

Digitally Induced Images
In this category, video game images arose either in the mind, as retinal sensations, or as a projection of video game images
“out there” and multisensorial experiences and cross-sensorial experiences, and comprised (a) mind visualizations, (b) retinal sensations, (c) seeing video games elements projected in the real world, (d) multisensorial experiences, and (e) across sensorial experiences.

  • Mind visualizations. These were defined as visualizing video game elements in the mind, flashbacks or picturing video games elements in real life environments (e.g., ‘mind’, ‘head’ or ‘mind’s eye’). They were considered as daydreams if the gamers imagined themselves doing things as in the video game. These daydream experiences were excluded from the data analysis.
  • Retinal sensations. These were defined as seeing video game elements intermittently or episodically in the back of the eyelids. Indications of eye sensations were required in this category that differ from mind visualizations (e.g., ‘in the back of my eyelids’, ‘with closed eyes’).
  • Seeing video game elements projected. This was defined as seeing video game elements with open eyes or projected ‘out there’ (e.g., ‘corner of the eye’, ‘in front my eyes’, ‘with open eyes’, ‘see them everywhere’, ‘peripheral vision’, ‘projected’, ‘blinking’, and ‘hallucinations’). This manifested as: (i) seeing video game elements in front of the eyes floating, and as (ii) seeing video game elements as superimposed on real life objects and environments.
  • Multi-sensorial experiences. These manifested when visualizations were accompanied by sensations in other sensorial modalities (e.g., seeing video game elements while feeling body movements or hearing the music from the video game).
  • Across sensorial experiences. These manifested when gamers had seen with closed or  open eyes, or visualized in the mind, video game elements triggered by a stimulus in a different sensory modality (e.g., auditory). These experiences were considered as induced synaesthesia (e.g., seeing images while listening to music).


Perceptual distortions: These were defined as distorted perceptions of real life environments, or objects directly associated with video game contents. This category also included gamers’ experiences of alteration of time perception due to visual effects of velocity.

Visual Misperceptions: These were defined as perceiving a real life object as something from a video game. This included experiences where gamers confused real life stimuli or had thought they saw a video game element, as well as, when they saw video game elements in ambiguous real life stimuli such as clouds or dots. It also included when gamers stated they saw everything in terms of blocks or had make analogies between real life stimuli and video game elements.

Unspecified VGTP: This category included experiences with clear altered visual perceptions but where the gamers’ posts did not include enough information to classify them in any or a new category.

percents VGTP



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