"Game Transfer Phenomena in Video Game Playing" offered for open access for the month of July

Living the Game

By IGI Global on Jul 1, 2015
Contributed by: Dr. Angelica Ortiz de Gortari & Dr. Mark D. Griffiths
Psychology Division, Nottingham Trent University, UK

Back in the 1990s, isolated cases of non-volitional phenomena, such as altered sensorial perceptions related to playing video games, were reported. For instance, there was a case study published in the Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine about a female video game player who was diagnosed as suffering from persecutory delusions and experiencing constant imaginary auditory hallucinations triggered by the music of the Super Mario Bros video game. Other isolated cases reported in literature included pilots experiencing altered visual perceptions and seeing everything upside down after using virtual reality flight simulators. There have also been many anecdotal reports of gamers seeing pieces from the game Tetris after playing (known as ‘The Tetris Effect’). In fact, visualization of images from video games at sleep onset have been induced experimentally. All these experiences comprise hearing, seeing, thinking, or doing something as in the video game and have been termed ‘game transfer phenomena’ (GTP).

Living The Game Our first published study on Game Transfer Phenomena made worldwide news when it was published in International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning. Some of the press coverage was both sensationalist (“Gamers can’t tell real world from fantasy, say researchers”) and misleading (“How video games blur real life boundaries and prompt thoughts of violent solutions to players’ problems”) and angered some of the gaming community.

The study was exploratory and involved interviews with 42 Swedish gamers. Although the sample was small, most of the participants had, at some point, experienced some type of involuntary thoughts, perceptions, sensations, actions, and/or reflexes in relation to video games when not playing them. For instance, one gamer reported seeing a mathematics equation appearing in a bubble above his teacher’s head while another reported health bars hovering over football players from a rival team. In other instances, one gamer reported feeling a tactile sensation of the gamepad when thinking about using a video game element in real life while another gamer almost stole a bike as he would have done in a video game and only realized at the last moment he wasn’t actually playing the game.

Since then we have published three more studies from a self-selected dataset of over 1,600 gamers’ experiences (all of who had experienced some form of GTP) in various academic journals (International Journal of Human Computer Interaction; International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction; International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning) and the first ever survey of GTP experiences of 2,362 gamers (published in Computers in Human Behavior). The findings have shown that some gamers (i) are unable to stop thinking about the game, (ii) expect that something from the game will happen in real life, (iii) display confusion between video game events and real life events, (iv) have impulses to perform something as in the video game, (v) have verbal outbursts, and (vi) experience voluntary and involuntary behaviors.

While some gamers qualify their experiences as funny, amusing, or even normal, others said they got surprised, felt worried, embarrassed and their experiences were a reason to quit playing. Based on our research so far, Game Transfer Phenomena appear to be more common among excessive gamers but most of these phenomena are short-lasting, temporary, and appear to resolve of their own accord.

Our most recently published survey suggests that GTP should mainly be considered as post-play phenomena, usually lasting for short periods, occurring shortly after stopping playing, and are more likely to be experienced in a day time context and recurrently. GTP have been associated with a large variety of video game genres, and both new and old games. Factors associated with GTP include age, length of gaming session, having a pre-existing medical condition, and playing for immersion, exploration, customization, and escaping from the real world.

The most interesting findings of our studies to date, is that the transfer of effects appear to be directly related to the content of the game, hence the simulation of physical objects in the game appear to be crucial for many of the transfers to occur. This is particularly important with the upcoming introduction of highly immersive technologies that would enhance the subjective sense of presence in the game environment, and realism of the game which in turn can potentially strengthen the effects of GTP in susceptible individuals.

Further reading:
Ortiz de Gortari, A., Aronsson, K. & Griffiths, M.D. (2011). Game Transfer Phenomena in video game playing: A qualitative interview study. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning, 1(3), 15-33.
Ortiz de Gortari, A.B. & Griffiths, M.D. (2012). An introduction to Game Transfer Phenomena in video game playing. In J. Gackenbach (Ed.), Video Game Play and Consciousness (pp.223-250). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science.
Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014). Altered visual perception in Game Transfer Phenomena: An empirical self-report study. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 30(2), 95-105.
Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014). Auditory experiences in Game Transfer Phenomena: An empirical self-report study. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning 4(1), 59-75.
Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014). Automatic mental processes, automatic actions and behaviours in Game Transfer Phenomena: An empirical self-report study using online forum data. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 12(4), 1-21.
Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., & Griffiths, M. D. (2015). Game Transfer Phenomena and its associated factors: An exploratory empirical online survey study. Computers in Human Behavior, 51, 195-202.

Also visit Dr. Angelica Ortiz de Gortari's web page on Game Transfer Phenomena: https://playersexperiences.wordpress.com/.

The International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning (IJCBPL) offers a forum for the academic exchange of new ideas and research findings related to psychological aspects and serves as a vehicle for promoting techniques and methodologies derived from rigorous research and practices that use psychological and cognitive principles to design and develop cyber learning. Edited by Dr. Robert K. Atkinson (Arizona State University, USA) and Dr. Zheng Yan (University at Albany - SUNY, USA), IJCBPL is indexed by SCOPUS, ACM Digital Library, Cabell’s Directories, DBLP, and Google Scholar, among others. Access the IJCBPL article "Game Transfer Phenomena in Video Game Playing: A Qualitative Interview Study" here.

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