Many videogame enthusiasts suffer from “games transfer phenomenon”, meaning they struggle to separate fantasy from reality, says a study. Well, that’s according to one newspaper. But, as expected, all is not quite as it seems.
Do you play a lot of games? Then you might suffer from “games transfer phenomenon”, which means you try to behave like you would in a game, even when you’re happily trotting through real life.
That’s what a study at Nottingham Trent University has supposedly found. In fact, it supposedly says that gamers “can’t tell real world from fantasy”.
British free paper The Metro has today run an article making these claims, at least.
It says that a study of 42 gamers aged 15 to 21, who played for at least ten hours per week, revealed that they ‘do or think’ things in real life as if they were still playing a videogame.
This included things like wanting to use Half-Life 2′s Gravity Gun to grab something from the fridge, or a search function (apparently specifically the World of Warcraft one) to find a relative in a crowd.
The researchers say gamers sometimes use ‘reflex actions’ as if they were still performing in a fantasy environment, reports today’s issue of The Metro.
So. What is this study?
Well, a bit of digging seems to reveal that it stems from a PhD student’s project. (A study has been co-authored by Prof Mark Griffiths.) And in fact, the lady herself makes a point of saying that she is “pro-technology”.
“GTP occurs when video games’ elements are associated with real life elements triggering subsequent thoughts, sensations and behaviours,” she writes on Academia.edu.
“I consider myself pro-technology and my interest in the virtual communities and online video game use derives from my strong curiosity and need to understand the interaction between human beings and new media, with the goal of maximizing the psychological and social benefits of interactive virtual technologies while reducing the risks or dangers it can present to some individuals.”
Some further digging turns up her blog. On it, she says she’s a gamer herself. And – curiously, considering The Metro’s headline – notes that her study suggested that people have no problem at all distinguishing between fantasy and reality.
“Players claim to be well aware of the difference between the real world and the game world,” she writes.
Instead, the study focuses on the idea of ‘doing things without thinking’. Or, in fact, merely thinking things without thinking. It’s about intrusive thoughts. These thoughts go away when people stop playing games, she says.
So yes – it might be that Milton, 19, noticed his finger twitch when he dropped a sandwich, as if he were tapping a controller button to rewind time after playing a lot of Prince of Persia. It doesn’t mean he really thought he was in the game.
The papers are doing well at the moment, aren’t they? Just yesterday, the Daily Mirror was very eager to link Grand Theft Auto to a shooting yet again.
This is not just irresponsible reporting. This is outright misinformation spread by the mainstream media, and it needs to stop.
And, just perhaps, it would be nice for universities to start sending their game-related media releases to the specialist press, as well as newspapers. Then we could get in there first with the facts.