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Study: Gamers May Be Losing Touch With Reality

On the first day of my Sensation and Perception class back in college, the professor walked in, looked out the window and said- "See that apple tree out there? How do we know it's really there? And how do we know it's an apple tree?"

Well, hardcore gamers might've seen an apple tree with...with...rocket launchers hanging from the branches! No, that's not what this study implies, but I still think it's funny.

According to a recent study by Nottingham Trent University and Stockholm University, there may be a new psychological phenomenon unique to avid videogame players. It seems that some gamers "involuntarily integrate elements of video game playing into real life," which means they're sorta losing touch with reality. For instance, one participant in the study said he started seeing health bars appear over people's heads, while other participants reported seeing in-game menus, altered real-life situations, and even dissociative experiences, like moving a finger to press a controller button when not holding a controller.

The study group consisted of 42 "frequent video game players" with ages between 15 and 21, in order to demonstrate any possible long-term effects of games through the analysis of Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP). So yes, that's what would be happening if the apples turned into rocket launchers in my aforementioned exaggerated example. GTP can occur both intentionally and involuntarily it seems, and this can also result in automatic behavior pertaining to interaction and imitation. You know, like actually imitating something you did in the game.

Unsurprisingly, participants said GTP tends to disappear when their game time decreases, and half actually said they use elements of games to help them solve real-life problems. If you want to read more, you'll have to pick up the July-September 2011 issue of the International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning. ...did you know such a journal existed?

Tags: gaming, video games, game culture, game reality

9/21/2011 10:28:23 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (80 posts)

Clamedeus
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 10:45:35 AM
Reply

If you start to see health bars over peoples heads that's when you need to seek help...

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AcHiLLiA
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 12:57:04 PM

Unless if ur a supernatural creature who see things differently then humans.

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Clamedeus
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 1:14:01 PM

True that. lol

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Dukemz_UK
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 3:18:56 PM

I once played Resident Evil on Hard mode through the night. I only got an hour of sleep, and when I woke up I kept grabbing at green house plants when I walked passed them, as if they were Green Herbs!

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Clamedeus
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 3:24:41 PM

Lol

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The Doom
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 8:19:11 PM

I don't know what to make of this study... One time I was walking down the street and came across a green transformer. I was thinking about draining the electricity from it because I wanted an energy boost I wouldn't get from Redbull. Then I thinking about climbing the building and grind on the electric cable that extended from the roof so I could get were I was going faster. After thinking about that I just went...

"...dammit..." :(

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Akuma07
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 9:04:15 PM

Or you have seen Scott Pilgrim WAY too many times.

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Jed
Thursday, September 22, 2011 @ 12:51:29 AM

I must admit, I grabbed a lot of green herbs in my younger days, but it had nothing to do with videogames.

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PAKINIPS
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 10:45:50 AM
Reply

Ha.
Hallucinations from too much gaming. They sound crazy

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OPHIDIAN
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 10:49:00 AM
Reply

sounds like assassins creed.

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gumbi
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 3:52:20 PM

hah, it's the bleeding effect!

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Jawknee
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 10:50:26 AM
Reply

I doubt this has anything to do with gaming and more to do with some other underlying physiological problem. I have been playing video games since Mega Man 2 on NES and I have never seen health bars or menus over peoples heads.

Last edited by Jawknee on 9/21/2011 10:51:15 AM

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 10:53:04 AM

Neither have I. If it ever reaches that point, something needs to be done.

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Qwarktast1c
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 10:54:58 AM

for real. these people must have problems already.
if they didn't then they'd have to be playing video games non stop with no sleep, thereby resulting in some sorta delirium or hallucination.

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AcHiLLiA
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 12:46:34 PM

yes, the people who don't get enough sleep are the one's who get lost in touch in reality. Some people take it to personal, could lead to problems down the road.

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Neo_Aeon666
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 4:01:55 PM

well then this way everyone will be too busy grabbing herbs and looking at health bars... And this is how we achieve world peace

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Xombito
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 10:51:25 AM
Reply

Geez. Imagine if someone played nothing but racing games. They should had tried to see if any licenses had been revoked.

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Neo_Aeon666
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 4:02:50 PM

Yeah lets play burnout paradise :D

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oONewcloudOo
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 10:54:15 AM
Reply

Or reality is loseing tough with games?

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AcHiLLiA
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 12:47:55 PM

In reality gang's are games for them.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 10:56:12 AM
Reply

After a long night of CoDding with my old university pals, I began talking and moving in my sleep, according to my wife.

Apparently, I woke her up because I was jabbing her in the ribs with my hand saying "I need to get the kill!"

Man, do I hate when that story comes up at dinner parties......

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Clamedeus
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 11:01:08 AM

Lol That was pretty funny. I don't think anything like that has happened to me though.

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AcHiLLiA
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 12:50:53 PM

haha, see what happens u get those memories in ur head from playing a mindless game but COD is still fun don't get me wrong.

Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 9/21/2011 12:51:20 PM

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Underdog15
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 1:16:40 PM

Oh no worries! CoD isn't exactly my game of choice, but when I'm playing with old friends (most of which I don't get to see more than once a year, since we're all spread out over the map now), CoD works since we usually talk about other things besides the game we're playing.

We love us some Borderlands or AC:B, but then we spend all our time talking about the game we're playing. :p Which is better gaming, for sure, but not as good for socializing. It's why CoD is video gaming lite. Anyone can master it.

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Akuma07
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 9:05:15 PM

I think your joking.

I don't... and will NEVER believe this kind of thing happens.

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Fane1024
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 9:17:21 PM

"...will NEVER believe..."

Now who's delusional?


Last edited by Fane1024 on 9/21/2011 9:19:35 PM

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Underdog15
Thursday, September 22, 2011 @ 3:56:47 PM

@Fane
lol!

@Akuma07
Oh it -DEFINITELY- happened. She -LOVES- to tell it when we are with people who still think games are for kids or are too violent.

I love to tell it when with people who appreciate games. lol

But it definitely happened.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 9/22/2011 3:57:32 PM

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StubbornScorpio
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 10:57:14 AM
Reply

Perception is subjective. What is reality, really? Perhaps there's a common understanding of what exists peripherally in the world around us. But what we see, feel, touch, hear, smell, can that REALLY be all there is in the world? I love the idea of an abstract reality.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 10:58:51 AM
Reply

I think they play too much or take too much acid. I have had a funny psychological phenomenon before though, it's when something from a game is present in real life and for a nanosecond I question what is happening. It's akin to hearing an alarm clock go off when awake and being shocked that you might be dreaming right now.

One time I was driving, basically on autopilot, and went by an old rusted out husk of 1950's chevrolet and nearly thought I was playing Fallout 3. This of course happened after being engrossed in it for weeks.

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onimushafantasy
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 11:56:01 AM

i have some experience with that as well. i remember way back when my friend got twisted metal 3. we spent enormous amounts of time playing that game and even when we werent playing if i closed my eyes i could hear everything going on in the game and even see it.

Last edited by onimushafantasy on 9/21/2011 11:56:34 AM

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Akuma07
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 9:07:07 PM

That's fair enough, its like simulated deja vu.

I have had similar experiences with movies, when I was hiking in Tasmania, it was like i was walking through Middle Earth. It was awesome.

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VampDeLeon
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 11:03:14 AM
Reply

Well, it's not uncommon to see replays of certain games in my sleep. But not outside my gaming area. :P

Last edited by VampDeLeon on 9/21/2011 11:04:16 AM

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Clamedeus
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 11:12:37 AM

Indeed, sometimes when I sleep I'll have a dream where I'm a super hero or in a war or something, sometimes even replaying a scenario that I did in a previous game, but it's like my conscience is telling me I should of done it this way instead of another way.

I also have weird dreams where I'm jumping off a very tall building slamming down to the ground on my feet, and an explosion of air goes around me buildings crumbling and I'm flying across the ground and trails of dirt and everything following by. :p It was awesome, but I do know what's real and not real I'm not going to imitate it in real life Lol.

I love dreams because you can do what you want to do that you can't do in real life, fly like superman, rip a building out from it's foundation and throw it at a villain or something. Epic stuff lol.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 11:17:42 AM

Gaming definitely enhances dreams when things go well. I used to have "Doom nightmares" though from playing too much Doom. My buddy had em too.

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Jed
Thursday, September 22, 2011 @ 1:13:54 AM

I used to have dreams of being inside Halo 3 when me and a friend were playing online all the time. It got really weird because it was like I was standing there in the actual game, but then I would have to remember which buttons to push on the controller to do anything. It was really weird.

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Highlander
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 11:15:59 AM
Reply

I can't believe that this is being seen as something new, to me it's not a new phenomena. But, it's kind of an aspect of day dreaming, the thing is, I see this same phenomena with other aspects of life. I mean, if you're driving a long distance and you get into that kind of 500 yard stare catatonic state, even when you get away from the wheel, you still see the center line and cat's eyes flying past when you close your eyes.

So, although it's perhaps somewhat significant to officially recognize that this happens with games, long time gamers should already know this intuitively. I mean, I remember back in the mid 80's playing Elite on my ancient 8-bit 6502 based BBC Micro, and seeing wireframe spaceships when I managed to tear myself away from the game.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 11:28:16 AM

this might not be an eyes closed or two seconds after playing situation, it could be that they are out in life and start hallucinating life bars.

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main_event05
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 11:22:31 AM
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I agree with the other posters, gotta be some underlying issues present already.

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duomaxwell007
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 11:59:32 AM
Reply

lol i spend more than 50% of a day gamiming for the last 5 years (if im not at work, eating or sleeping my ps3 is on) and not ONCE have i ever had vision and hallucinations like that in real life ... ive dreamed about stuff like that but as for seeing it in real life when im actually awake... nope not once lol

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Deleted User
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 11:59:33 AM
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You know, I drive in my car and after long sessions with various driving/racing games, I get that split second feeling of driving like a maniac. It can happen. That's about the only time in my case.

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duomaxwell007
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 11:59:36 AM
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lol i spend more than 50% of a day gamiming for the last 5 years (if im not at work, eating or sleeping my ps3 is on) and not ONCE have i ever had vision and hallucinations like that in real life ... ive dreamed about stuff like that but as for seeing it in real life when im actually awake... nope not once lol

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Xzer0
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 12:02:07 PM
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At last something useful for my research.

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main_event05
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 12:06:20 PM
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Anyone remember back in '85 when all those Italian guys stomped all those turtles?

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Underdog15
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 12:11:17 PM

Not nearly as bad as when they started drowning in sewer lines.

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WolfCrimson
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 12:08:38 PM
Reply

Err... seldomly... this happens to me? Like when trying to visualize something in my mind I see health points and menus and stuff like that. Not at all like having sensory hallucinations or anything. This happens only if I play excessively for a long time, and it's very far and few in between. Seems to happen with games that require lots of strategic planning. But then I only need a few seconds to orientate myself with reality.

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BigStack007
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 12:12:33 PM
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I've been playing video games since the Atari days. I don't see health bars above peoples heads. I see our society becoming dumber and dumber as the years go by. Idiocracy isin't just a funny movie. I belive it's really happening. I see it in the grocery store,my childs school,the casino where i play poker,politics,the lakes i fish at,COD lobbies i hear it all the time,ect,ect. If breathing wasn't an involuntary action people would be dropping dead everywhere. You can't see it unless you open your mind to it tho.

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nogoat23
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 12:25:48 PM
Reply

The only thing something like that has happened with me was when I was younger. I was playing a lot of Tetris, and then when I turned it off and turned on a TV show my brain kept wanting to fit pieces in between where the characters were standing. After a few minutes, it stopped.

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 1:49:37 PM

Tetris when packing a car or suitcase... I've done that before.

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Alienange
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 12:33:37 PM
Reply

What the hell is "real life?"

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Highlander
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 1:05:08 PM

That which intrudes upon my gaming....

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Underdog15
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 1:18:57 PM

lol, that it is, Highlander, that it is.

Sometimes I catch myself talking about my "RL" (real life) friends. It was a pretty common term when I played FFXI. People regularly refer to their gaming friends and their "RL" friends. Or, "Hey, I might get one of my RL friends to play this game!" lol

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 1:47:37 PM

It's the game that sucks.

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Excelsior1
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 1:24:25 PM
Reply

i am sure this study will generate many sensationalist headlines since many in the media seem to have a negative view of gamers. i'm not sure any significant conclusions can be drawn from such a small sample group.

i can't say i have ever experienced this gtp. what i have done is day dream about games when i am out and about in the real world. for some reason i like to day dream about roaming around in the atomic wastelands of fallout 3 scavenging for food when i go to the grocery store. i see nothing wrong with this. it's called using your imagination. thank god humans have this abilty to escape from reality becuase life forces us in to a lot of mundane tasks.



Last edited by Excelsior1 on 9/21/2011 1:25:48 PM

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BIGRED15
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 1:28:58 PM
Reply

Yea, most psychologists would probably agree that this is a good correllational study. Unfortunately there isn't enough people taken from that sample to make a quality generalization. Now if they did a case study on these people, they'd likely find good background info that could cause these hallucinations. Gaming isnt the only factor to take into account here

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Lawless SXE
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 1:48:39 PM
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Oh come now. I'll admit to having momentary flights of fancy in the real world pertaining to what I've done in games, but nothing quite as extreme as what this study is proposing, and I do believe that if anyone stops and sees Heavy Rain, or Mass Effect styled dialogue options, then they have something fundamentally wrong with them beyond playing games.

I think it's only natural for a hobby or some aspect of a hobby to bleed into everyday life. Maybe you should have asked Bogost his thoughts on this. He's not a psychologist, but still.

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Kiryu
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 1:49:58 PM
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health bar over heads haha
Its like seeing a person life over the head in Death Note.

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sha4dowknight05
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 2:05:17 PM
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LOl i kinda agree on this, sometimes.

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Gone
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 2:09:29 PM
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So you mean that I am suppose to pull over when I see cops flash their lights, instead of flooring it and running away (NFS: Hot Pursuit).

GTP = Gran Turismo Prologue

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Nas Is Like
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 2:12:17 PM
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"For instance, one participant in the study said he started seeing health bars appear over people's heads, while other participants reported seeing in-game menus"

lmao

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TheCanadianGuy
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 2:52:40 PM
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woha woha woha wait a sec you mean to say that when i leave home i'm not still playing GTA?!.... Uh Oh..

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Nas Is Like
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 4:48:59 PM

You think that's bad?

For the longest time I thought I was just playing a series of games called God of War.

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TheCanadianGuy
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 5:35:15 PM

xD yea & its weird i play infamous a few hours. go out & try to climb hydro poll & ride along the power cables

Last edited by TheCanadianGuy on 9/21/2011 5:40:25 PM

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BubbaSLiM
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 3:33:53 PM
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"The study group consisted of 42 "frequent video game players" with ages between 15 and 21"

That was your biggest mistake, you picked an immature age group in the first place! You give a 15 year old white kid from an upscale neighborhood a Too Short CD and I promise in two weeks he will believe he is a pimp and even go so far as to dress the part!

Run the same study with an age group between the 30's and 40's and I think you'll find that as gamers age they become just as grounded as their non-gaming neighbors!

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gumbi
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 4:00:13 PM
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well... on the bright side, these folks will save some cash on the next generation of augmented reality games.

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UK_MrSim_UK
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 4:01:22 PM
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I NEED DETECTIVE VISION MODE AND EAGLE VISION.

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Teddie9
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 4:04:13 PM
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Used to play much more frequently couple years ago...
Like to daydream about certain games,but never in my life did I ever hallucinate. Crazy kids.

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sirbob6
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 4:19:16 PM
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Out of curiosity is there a particular reason the picture for the article is Dark Souls?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 7:23:24 PM

Nah. Just picked a fantasy game.

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sirbob6
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 7:29:57 PM

Your taste is rather exquisite.

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SolidFantasy
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 4:42:11 PM
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It's going to take some more research and evidence to convince me. This is still pretty interesting though. I've had very subtle experiences of turning parts of my life into an FPS, but not enough to call a phenomenon of any sorts.

If nothing else it really makes me think of all the funny applications VGs could have on your reality.

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FM23
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 4:48:58 PM
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Seriosly...seriously...psychology is always trying to find something to study! Gaming is popular so why not find something popular to study...GTP...guess I'll see that on my next test...lmao.

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Lairfan
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 5:57:50 PM
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Wow, those people seeing health bars are absolutely insane. They're either playing 23 hours a day or had some kind of mental condition beforehand. No normal gamer experiences crap like that.

In my experience, most normal people only get low-intensity stuff of this variety, and its not really reserved for video games, its more of a thing that happens after performing repetitive things for several hours at a time. Luckily, I've got a good grip on reality (at least, I think I do) and these "phenomena" never last more than a few seconds for me. Although admittedly it is really weird to see something in real life that makes you think you're in a game, or feel like you're pressing a button when you're not.

The real thing that games affect me with, though, are my dreams. After playing certain games for an extended time, I usually get some vivid dreams about em.
Sometimes they can be really cool. I had an Uncharted 2 dream once where I went through all the major setpieces in the game in one long sequence; freaking badass is all I can say.
And other times, they can give me some pretty crazy nightmares. The worst one I've ever had was for Dead Space 2, because it was so vivid and what happened was absolutely horrid on a personal level. I mean, it was seriously f***ed up, maybe even more so than the game in certain respects. I'll just leave it at that.

Overall though, interesting study. I'd like to see how this GTP affects older gamers though. I'm sure there's a lot fewer of us seeing health bars and dialogue options than there are amongst the youngsters.

Last edited by Lairfan on 9/21/2011 5:59:39 PM

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JackDillinger89
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 6:05:50 PM
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"I see health bars over peoples heads" - Someones been hitting the bong a little to much lol. Drug abuse can do that to you.

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SubjectiveTruth
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 8:09:11 PM
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My firsts thoughts were;
If this had any real merrit, it would all ready have had a much more serious effect than it has.

How many people where invovled in the study and how many reported, "Seeing health bars over peoples head". That one just has a seriously creepy tone to it when you think about it.

Could there possibly be underlying issues that could explain these persons reports?

The most important thing for me is too see the numbers because if these statements have only been made by say 2 people in a large sample the magazine may be exaggerating the claims to attract attention.

Then I got to remembering...Once when I was a kid I woke up in a weird dream state where I was sure I was in a situation very similar to MGS2, which I had been playing a lot lately. (I was pretty young at the time) I could see my that I was in my house but I thought I was somewhere else. Only in retrospect do I remember being in my house, at the time I was sure I wasn't. I also remember drinking water from the tap, which at our house is usually great. At that time I distinctly remember it tasting awful. Nothing like water. Anyways I think the conclusion at the time was that I had a high fever and was very dehydrated but who knows.

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Akuma07
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 9:13:13 PM
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This study has no merrit. I dont even believe that the test subjects were telling the truth.

I doubt this thing really exists in the real world, unless there is some sort of mental condition.

In other words, if this is SERIOUSLY happening to you, there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with you, and its nothing to do with playing games!

If you are that detached from reality, that you cannot tell the difference between virtual reality and reality, then you belong in a mental institution, because you are a danger to society.

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Warrior Poet
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 10:07:37 PM
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I think gaming is a great thing to study, and I believe at least some of these guys were truthful. I mean, I've had dreams about Tetris. Nightmares, actually. But I don't think I've ever tried to be a game hero or imitate a character, lol. Don't know what to make of this one.

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___________
Thursday, September 22, 2011 @ 4:00:17 AM
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OH PLEASE!
hey theres a pink elephant flying out my window...................

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Underdog15
Thursday, September 22, 2011 @ 3:58:49 PM

There is far more academic room for discussion than that. You can do better.... can't you?

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Ultimate_Balla
Saturday, September 24, 2011 @ 1:27:24 PM
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"Well, hardcore gamers might've seen an apple tree with...with...rocket launchers hanging from the branches! No, that's not what this study implies, but I still think it's funny." LMFAO

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BikerSaint
Thursday, September 29, 2011 @ 6:26:40 AM
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Hey, it could happen.......one time even I saw a Heath bar above my own buddy's head.

Naaahhhhh....that was only cause he was such a lousy catch when I threw it to him during one of our after-gaming snack attacks.

Last edited by BikerSaint on 9/29/2011 6:27:41 AM

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