New study finds games altering perceptions of reality

University research carried out in the UK and Sweden describes gaming's intrusion into real life as a psychological condition known as Game Transfer Phenomena.

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A new study conducted by Nottingham Trent University and Stockholm University has shed light on a new psychological phenomenon that sees some gamers involuntarily integrating elements of video game playing into real life.

Augmented reality, or altered reality?

One interviewee in the study reportedly began to see health bars appear above other people's heads; other interviewees reported seeing in-game menus, altered real-life scenarios, and dissociative experiences, like instinctively pressing a controller button even when not playing games.

Researchers from Nottingham Trent University and Stockholm University interviewed a total of 42 frequent video game players aged 15-21 for the study, which aims to demonstrate the long-term effects of video games through the analysis of Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP), a psychological state that occurs when players integrate elements of video game playing into real life by way of thoughts, sensations, and actions.

The study found that GTP can occur both intentionally and involuntarily, when players experience intrusive thoughts, sensations, impulses, reflexes, and optical illusions. It can also result in automatic behaviors that do with interaction and imitation (that is, imitating things from a game).

Players reported that the phenomenon tends to disappear when they game less often, and many reported to be well aware of the difference between the real world and the world of games, but their automatic associations often caused them to experience bizarre things. Half of the study subjects said that they often use elements of game playing to help them solve real-life problems.

"The GTP study, while based on a small number of video game players, demonstrated that playing video games intensely can be associated with the elicitation of automatic thoughts," Angelica Ortiz de Gortari, one of the study's authors, said about the study on her research blog.

The study will be published in the July-September 2011 issue of the International Journal of Cyber Behaviour, Psychology and Learning.

Discussion

397 comments
cachinscythe
cachinscythe

@max_1111 Study groups are not research eh? That's rather interesting. I get the feeling the vast majority of ACTUAL scientists would disagree with your conclusion on study groups. If they aren't going to do a study on several people in situations where they attempt to control variables, then what "actual research" would you have them do? Study the effects of video games on rats? Listening to gamers react to studies that show anything remotely harmful about their hobby is like listening to environmental extremists. Anything that shows they might have their data wrong is part of the vast conspiracy to disprove what "everyone" agrees is the truth. Because NO respected scientists of any kind could POSSIBLY disagree with their conclusions. It's utterly absolute. Here's what I consider to be the REAL truth: almost nobody on this site knows the first thing about how this study was conducted, how scientific the setup was, whether there were control and experimental groups, etc. All they know is that they're gamers and they haven't experienced these things before; therefore the study is completely bogus. After all, every gamer views the world the EXACT same way with the EXACT same mind and eyes. Please try and consider whether you're actually thinking about this in the objective manner scientists try to.

JodyR
JodyR moderator

@dawnofhero Hah, that's an awesome statement. I completely agree. :)

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

Man, what kind of BS research is that? I play games all the time and I can tell what's real and what is. By the way, anybody know if Washington D.C. is clear of the Russians yet?

dawnofhero
dawnofhero

I know Mario isn't a real character and that stomping on turtles is just plain mean... but that's why we have video games :)

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Yet another example of well spent study funding :roll: not like we need to cure that cancer or anything...

norabbitnofun
norabbitnofun

Seems weird to talk to people age 15-21 if you are looking for long-term effects. There should be a ton of older people around the gaming addiction.

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

@Liso66 (continued) C) As mentioned before, we don't know much about the study based strictly on this article, so saying that you find the study ridiculous "because it is" demonstrates more knowledge of it than I think most of us have. And if you're going to criticize them for only using 42 people when there are millions of gamers, you may as well criticize the TV industry to, as it calculates its ratings by calling random houses, asking them what they are watching, and then estimating the few calls they make up to the million viewer ratings they present. What they did is not atypical at all. Now let's get something clear: I don't want the government regulating what I play, and by and large I don't think games are a legitimate scapegoat for people's behavior. So I'm not someone who buys into this stuff. I'll even admit that this study sounds a little whacked from the results presented. But that doesn't mean we can just dismiss it as completely, utterly wrong and idiotic. That's what people did to the Wright Brothers. (Yes, I just made that comparison.) And it's what everyone does on here any time something comes out suggesting there are potential harms to gaming. HEAR THIS PEOPLE: Not all those trying to ban M ratings for minors are like Jack Thompson. Many are well-meaning people.

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

@Liso66 I don't want to fight with you either, but there's a few problems with your arguments. A) The statement that most things can easily influence teens doesn't disprove anything. In a way, it actually PROVES the point. Gaming can influence their perceptions. B) You're right in suggesting that the signs they were looking for could have been embedded, but you're not right if you're convinced those conducting the study didn't consider that. As I said to max_1111, psychological studies contain a heading called "Limitations" that shows all the ways the results can be biased. That just doesn't get reported in the news. Reading this article doesn't mean we can adequately draw conclusions about the study itself. ESPECIALLY since it's being reported through a GAMING WEBSITE. (TBC)

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

@max_1111 I'll consider getting off my high horse when the people declaring all these studies to be crap show actual evidence that it is. Funny, gamers say the evidence says gaming DOESN'T do this stuff based on "actual" studies and then never bother to mention what those studies are, which is exactly what they accuse the VERY people they ridicule of doing. Did you know that a psychological study is actually very detailed? Did you know it contains a section called "Limitations" where they describe all the ways the results could be tainted? Probably not. Because you're deciding you already know everything about the study after reading this article. Try reading an actual psychological study and actually meeting the people who conduct the studies before you demonize them.

ZeRo2545
ZeRo2545

People smoke too much weed.

Infinity_Gauntl
Infinity_Gauntl

This is total BS. This just comes from when people in these test groups are aware that they are supposed to have negative reactions to a certain stimuli they either make it up or they "develope" these negative reactions because they are "supposed" to have them....complete BS

Jebril
Jebril

Leave it to video gamers to understand next to thing about what the word perception means. Altering a perception does not necessarily guarantee what we call hallucinations, nor should it. It's like playing Puzzle Quest for a month straight and then you start matching colors while walking around trying to find patterns cuz your mind has been conditioned to it. It's like going to sleep and having dreams about you looting in Borderlands, or daydreaming new combos in your latest fighters. These all have affects on us, we just fail to realize it.

-Carge-
-Carge-

This is bull, you expect me to believe that if I play games for long enough I'll start hallucinating healthbars over peoples heads?

Mega_Skrull
Mega_Skrull

What kind of weirdo lab rats do they use for these BS studies? *Leaves jumping, trying to headbutt the ceiling*

metalkitten
metalkitten

well yeah sure... i mean both me and my bf started moving cubes after playing catherine for 2 days straight if u do anything alot that will happen... and it will also go away when u dont do it as much... and this is not just about gaming either for that matter i dont need to make a paper and reasearch to figure that out

terrascythe
terrascythe

It's ironic that so many of the commenters that say this study is garbage also have avatars or user names based on their favorite game or character. These folks exhibit the GTP in the cyber-world but at the same time fail to realize they're expressing it. The game is real, the strategies are real, payoffs real, nothing is pretend.

outsider920
outsider920

Wow. Good thing I decided to start basing my real life actions on Persona 3 about two years ago. Now I go outside and talk to people.

Pawfalcon
Pawfalcon

Lol, I remember twice after playing a LOT over a few days I locked myself out or did some other stupid s*** and just thought "Its cool. I'll just load my last save point and th... ...wait a minute"

splintercelldg
splintercelldg

I think the "researchers" as well as "test subjects" are suffering from A.S.S (Acute Stupidity Syndrome). No one "intentionally" chooses to have a psychological condition. Someone get these A.S.S-es a real doctor!

Blue-Sky
Blue-Sky

Nothing alters a human's perception of reality than television and movies.

CASwim1111
CASwim1111

I had to bash a brick to get a mushroom to grow to a large enough size to sit up in my chair and read this article while fending off zombies using a chain saw in one hand and typing this comment with my other. I completely disagree with the claim that video games have altered my perception one bit. Now if you excuse me, I have a fruit-gobbling dinosaur to ride in order to get home from my crime-fighting job with my rabbity-thing sidekick. I am a dog.

maddog123
maddog123

uhhh, transhumanism anyone... OH NO I JUST DID A GTP WITH DEUS EX!!! AHHH!!!

nevryn
nevryn

.... Okay, first off, the involuntary behaviors such as button pressing can more easily be explained by simple classical conditioning. Nothing new there. As for the bizarre sensations, I would diagnose as schizophrenia. Get these people some medicine.

janderdarkmoon
janderdarkmoon

Well I have felt overwhelming sense of road rage when driving behind slow people after playing too much GTA but that's about it.

Cybrian
Cybrian

My studies suggest that it's quite possible these researchers suffer from RTP (Reality Transfer Phenomena), a pervasive psychological phenomenon that sees someone voluntarily integrating elements of real-life into game play.

pcty
pcty

42 people it is a very small sample space this can't be be considered a serious study

mariobro9999
mariobro9999

this is stupid these people must be on something for that to happen.

shravan_perne
shravan_perne

BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH .... yeah my comment is stupid and so is this study ....

G1Ga-B1T3
G1Ga-B1T3

WHAT!?!?! YOU MEAN I AM NOT AUGMENTED LIKE IN THE GAME?!?!?!?! I never asked for this......

slikjohnson
slikjohnson

I don't get this sh!t. I have been playing video games since I was like 5 I am now 22 and I have never had these things happen to me. Yeah I have though about games when not playing them, but to have an actual hallucination I think those people were tripping or those are the people below average I.Q. Remember this if average is average that means 50% of the people in the world are below that. That i who that study was conducted on.

hajjjustin
hajjjustin

i wish life was more lika a video game, I would be able to change it from easy to had as i please

Xeogua
Xeogua

Umm, I wish I could get paid to study video games. On a side note, that might be why I chainsawed that guy this morning. :/

Rickettsia
Rickettsia

Those psycologist has nothing important to study. Wow they discover america... Come on, this phenomena is more involve with personality issues than video games itself. Not all gamers get involve in that way. I imagine if you replace the video games for catoons to those ones with GTP their behavior will be addapted to the ones they see in cartoons.

DireBadger
DireBadger

They interviewed 42 people. Thats nothing and this 'study' has no value.

Silviiwilvii
Silviiwilvii

I took the same left turn to go to work for six years. Now I work somewhere different but I still have to stop at that same four-way stop and I still put on my left blinker subconsciously (and picture myself turning left) even though I still drive straight through. Does this mean I have Commute Transfer Phenomena (CTP)? It's just how the brain works with everything.

CyberLips
CyberLips

that happens to me too when i play a lot , i even dream about the game:P sometimes when i'm shopping and i see people walking by i immediately picture them in V.A.T.S. mode! :lol:

ky_delsir
ky_delsir

that is true for everything. it has nothing to do with videogames, but with how the brain works with repetitive actions. also they should have taken all kind of people not just gamers for this "study"

MaxxieDivine
MaxxieDivine

I guess I experience GTP everyday at work when I sell expensive food at my restaurant. I suddenly hear ooooooooooverkill!!!! Then when they leave I get my tip and I hear TA TA!

Son_of_Bmore
Son_of_Bmore

This is true cuz every time I see a mushroom growing I'll try & eat it hoping I'll be big

DantheMan9856
DantheMan9856

i started picturing the board game 'Othello' in my head and in my dreams after I played it for days straight. It happens with a lot of things, not just video games.

pezzott1
pezzott1

I dont think this is just related to videogames... im a 3D generalist/animator and when i work long hours i tend to see everything as in modeled inside the software. So do my colleagues. If this is going to were violent games makes violent people... i think its BS!

Froggy_13
Froggy_13

Wasn't there a study ages ago that already realised this? With people solving problems like they were playing Tetris? I think they came up with a name and everything.

Garthan
Garthan

I dont get why almost everyone in this "forum" shout out bullsh*t? If the scientist has discovered some kind of social missbehavior in some people, wouldn´t it be nice if they can do something about it before someone of us "normal" persons be at the end of GTP person who has played to much GTA or something else which aint good for peoples health! So fellow gamers please don´t be to judgemental. If there is one person in 10.000 gamers or even 100.000 gamers wouldn´t you be more comfortable knowing that this guy/gal get professional help so they dont go on perhaps a killing spree?

P-Ball3179
P-Ball3179

Such BS, how about they test for HPPD in these test subjects. This garabage is a joke, people are just F*&^%$# pathetic, come on! You have mental issues if you really do this and are not looped up on some mind altering drug.

Erkball55
Erkball55

oh my gosh I have GTP, I see HP bars over peoples heads, the bigger the guy the bigger the bar, and crack heads bars are always draining slowly like they are poisoned. Also everytime I jump I hear the mario jumping sound. I see floating text when it comes to making a decsion, hunny let go out tonight....hell no....only if i get some later.....sounds wonderful dear.. and I swear everytime I eat a mushrooms my hands double in size.

Witchsight
Witchsight

I once played Xcom for 18 hours, and when i went to get some milk from the fridge i was counting every step in Action Points.