Videogamers still hear sounds after playing

Sounds from videogames – such as explosions, screams and music – are being heard by gamers long after they've finished playing, according to new research.

People playing videogames
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People playing videogames
It's important to help gamers understand their experiences since re-experiencing sounds and voices may provoke distress

Angelica Ortiz De Gortari, psychology researcher

Sounds from videogames – such as explosions, screams and music – are being heard by gamers long after they have finished playing, according to new research.

The study, led by Nottingham Trent University's International Gaming Research Unit, is published in the International Journal of Cyber Behaviour, Psychology and Learning.

Psychologists visited online videogame forums and collected data from 1,244 gamers who had experienced 'game transfer phenomena' – perceptions, cognitions and behaviours influenced by videogame playing.

Of these, 155, or 12%, claimed to have had auditory experiences as a result of their gaming.

Most of the experiences involved hearing sound effects, music and characters' voices from the game.Vehicles, lasers, bullets, beeping, explosions, swords, groans, screams, falling coins, ringing and even breathing from the game were among the sounds heard by gamers. They appeared either occasionally or persistently and could occur without triggers, or following a 'real world' cue.

Some gamers initially believed that the sounds were coming from an external source, or that something which occurs in the game was about to happen.

One gamer reported hearing someone constantly whispering 'death' for a few days, while another heard the words 'go, go, go' in his head when he wanted people to move in the subway.

Sounds appear to have been heard after playing very long sessions – such as two days straight, or through the night – and occurred during daily routines such as sleeping, waking, walking and driving.

Some gamers reported that they had concerns about these replays and were worried about 'going crazy', felt they were 'scary', 'annoying', 'maddening' and 'disconcerting'. Hearing the sounds also provoked sleep deprivation in some gamers.

The research is believed to be the first to examine hearing replays of auditory cues from videogames after stopping playing. It is the latest in a series of studies from the University into game transfer phenomena.

In an earlier study the team found how some participants were seeing images from their games after they had finished playing, such as video game menus popping up in front of their eyes and power bars above people's heads.

"This research supports findings of previous studies into game transfer phenomena, which show that videogame playing can induce pseudo hallucinatory-like experiences," said Angelica Ortiz De Gortari, a psychology researcher in Nottingham Trent University's School of Social Sciences.

She said: "These experiences can sometimes result in illogical thoughts and behaviours. It's important to help gamers understand their experiences since re-experiencing sounds and voices may provoke distress, especially when associated with dangerous situations in the game."

Researcher Professor Mark Griffiths added: "Game Transfer Phenomena appears to be commonplace among excessive gamers and most of these phenomena are short-lasting, temporary, and resolve of their own accord."

"For some gamers, the phenomena are conditioned responses, therefore the best way for the tiny minority that may have longer lasting phenomena is to simply cut down the amount they play."

Videogamers still hear sounds after playing

Published on 31 July 2014
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Social Sciences

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