Videogaming study examines factors behind 'game transfer phenomena'

Cyber psychologists have carried out the first ever survey to investigate the factors behind 'Game Transfer Phenomena' – whereby videogamers' virtual experiences are transferred into the real world.

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People playing videogames
This is the first survey to look at potential underlying factors behind experiences of GTP, and has produced some very interesting results.

Dr Angelica Ortiz de Gortari, Nottingham Trent University

Cyber psychologists have carried out the first ever survey to investigate the factors behind Game Transfer Phenomena – whereby videogamers' virtual experiences are transferred into the real world.

It is the latest Nottingham Trent University study to examine GTP, a common occurrence responsible for gamers experiencing altered perceptions and involuntary thoughts and behaviours after playing.

The research, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior , surveyed more than 2,300 gamers worldwide via an online questionnaire to investigate the relationship between GTP and factors such as gaming habits, individual characteristics, medical conditions and motivations for playing.

They found that younger adults were particularly at risk, with almost half (47%) of those who had experienced GTP aged between 18-22. Almost half (49%) also claimed to play for single gaming sessions for between three to six hours, while those who recalled their dreams regularly were more likely to experience GTP than those who did not.

The majority of gamers (71%) who had experienced GTP played games to immerse themselves in their games, or to explore new virtual worlds (65%). They were also more than twice as likely as those who had not experienced GTP to play games as a form of escapism (41%).

More than one in five (21.9%) reported flashbacks and a similar figure (21.2%) had a pre-existing medical condition – such as sleeping disorders, mental disorders or problematic gaming.

Almost two-thirds (60%) who experienced GTP referred to themselves as hard-core gamers and almost half (47%) claimed to be students, which was the most common employment status, followed by those working full-time (28%).

The study follows previous research by Dr Angelica Ortiz de Gortari and Professor Mark Griffiths, of Nottingham Trent University's School of Social Sciences, which has found evidence of examples of both visual and auditory GTP.

Gamers have reported seeing energy boxes appear above people's heads, and sounds from videogames – such as explosions, screams, whisperings and music – being heard long after gamers have finished playing. Responses have also included gamers involuntarily moving their fingers and experiencing the tactile sensation of pushing buttons from a gamepad.

Following this latest study, the researchers argue that it is important for gamers to regulate their gaming habits – as prolonged sessions make them more susceptible to executive-control failures, due to mental fatigue, and experienced visual alterations because of over-exposure to the game.?

Dr Angelica Ortiz de Gortari, said: "This is the first survey to look at potential underlying factors behind experiences of GTP, and has produced some very interesting results. Medical conditions seem to be significantly associated with GTP, therefore it is crucial to further investigate this correlation, as some people may be more susceptible to it.

"No significant differences were found in terms of gender and GTP, which is interesting as males are stereotypically portrayed as playing more, having more problems related to gaming and more likely to play violent video games."

Researcher Professor Mark Griffiths – the Director of Nottingham Trent University's International Gaming Research Unit – added: "These findings confirm the findings of all of our previous qualitative studies and suggest that GTP are commonplace among gamers.

"While most gamers suffer no ill-effects of GTP, a small minority do seem to be negatively affected by their GTP experiences. Further research is needed to compare those with positive and negative experiences to see if there are preventative factors that could be taken by the gamers."

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Videogaming study examines factors behind 'game transfer phenomena'

Published on 28 May 2015
  • Category: Research; School of Social Sciences

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