Could playing video games lead to hallucinations?
London: Video game players may experience altered visual perceptions after playing, a new study has found.
Researchers at Nottingham Trent University's International Gaming Research Unit found that some video game players experienced distorted versions of real world surroundings. Others saw video game images and misinterpreted real life objects after they had stopped playing.
Gamers also reported seeing video game menus popping up in front their eyes when they were in a conversation, or saw coloured images and 'heads up' displays when driving on the motorway.
The study involved the analysis of 656 experiences from 483 gamers collected in 54 online video game forums. This is the first of a series of studies that aims to identify, classify and explain 'Game Transfer Phenomena' (GTP) experiences via the different senses: sight, sound and touch, researchers said.
GTP research focuses on gamers' perceptions, cognitions and behaviours influenced by video game playing and aims to further understanding of the psychosocial implications of altered perceptions induced by virtual technologies. Visual illusions can easily trick the brain and staring at visual stimuli can cause 'after-images' or 'ghost images'.
The novelty of this new study, the researchers said, is that GTP were triggered by associations between video game experiences and objects and activities in real life contexts. The findings also raise questions about the effects of the exposure to certain visual effects used in video games, researchers said. In some playing experiences, video game images appeared without awareness and control of the gamers and, in some cases, the images were uncomfortable, especially when gamers could not sleep or concentrate on something else.
These experiences also resulted in irrational thoughts such as gamers questioning their own mental health, getting embarrassed or performing impulsive behaviours in social contexts. However, other gamers clearly thought that these experiences were fun and some even tried to induce them.
"Some gamers may be more susceptible than others to experience GTP. The effects of these experiences appear to be short-lived, but some gamers experience them recurrently," said psychologist Professor Mark Griffiths. "More research is needed to understand the cognitive and psychological implications of GTP," Griffiths said. The study is published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction.