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Study of 'Game Transfer Phenomena' Examines Why Some Get Tetris-on-the-Brain

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If you've ever closed your eyes and seen tetrominoes falling into place, or Angry Birds slamming into stone walls, you're experiencing "game transfer phenomena," and it involves more than mentally playing a game long after it's finished.

The first ever academic paper on this condition is due to be published in the International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning, say the authors behind the study, Angelica B. Ortiz de Gortari of Nottingham Trent University and Karin Aronsson of Stockholm University. Game transfer phenomena happen "when video game elements are associated with real life elements, triggering subsequent thoughts, sensations and/or player actions.''

Jesse Singal, writing for The Boston Globe's op-ed page, notes the paper's findings and his own experience with game transfer phenomena, most recently in Portal 2. "When I stopped playing - especially at night - the symptoms kicked in. Sleep was almost impossible. I could still feel and see myself moving around the game's corridors and rooms, especially when I closed my eyes." Singal said he felt as if his brain was still trying to solve the game's puzzles.


The paper is based on gamers' interpretations of their own experiences, and its authors say the issue needs a more rigorous examination. Some may be more susceptible to game transfer phenomena than others. "None of this is a reason to stop playing video games or yank your kids away from them," Singal writes.

"But it is yet another reminder that our immersion in technology is far outpacing our ability to find out what it might be doing to us," he concludes.


Gamer Brain [The Boston Globe]