Seeing Health Bars IRL? Don’t Worry, it’s Just Game Transfer Phenomena

on May 16, 2011 12:00 PM

Seeing Health Bars IRL? Don't Worry, it's Just Game Transfer Phenomena

We’re all hardcore gamers here, so I’m sure you know what it is, even if you’ve never heard the term Game Transfer Phenomena. It’s what happens when you play a game for so long that you start to see it everywhere, or play it whenever you close your eyes. I know for sure it happens to me when I play too much Puzzle Quest. Or when I play too much Katamari and start trying to figure out which objects in my surroundings are small enough for me to roll up.

Finally, a small team of researchers has produced what is probably the first scientific paper in psychological literature on Game Transfer Phenomena. Lead by Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University, they define Game Transfer Phenomena as ““when video game elements are associated with real life elements, triggering subsequent thoughts, sensations and/or player actions.’’ The paper is comprised mainly of interviews with gamers between the ages of 15 and 21 who describe the symptoms of their experiences with the phenomena, including one kid who claims to have seen health bars above people’s heads in real life. They note that the interviewees never described having trouble differentiating between reality and the game world, only that some elements of the game began to intrude on the real world.

The paper is largely a qualitative survey, a fact which Griffiths and his team recognize, but it’s the first step in what should be a more rigorous study of this phenomenon. If you want to read it, the paper will be published in an upcoming issue of International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning.

[Boston Globe]

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Danl is a home-grown Minnesotan gamer, artist, and programmer. He loves rhythm games, RTS, and platformers. He loves building computers, too. His favorite games include Phoenix Wright, Dance Dance Revolution, and Katamari Damacy.