Games and reality collide (harmlessly)

Rob Zacny

Saints-Row-the-Third-11

If you've ever found yourself "slicing the pie" as you round a blind corner, the same way you do in a tactical shooter, you've probably been experiencing Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP), an umbrella term for the ways that our gaming lives begin to cross over into real life. Dr. Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University recently published a paper enumerating the types of GTP gamers report experiencing. Naturally, some sensationalist reporters immediately lifted some quotes in order to perpetuate the narrative of gamers confusing the virtual with the real.

Griffiths is having none of that. He got in touch with Eurogamer and provided some context and explanation for the study.

"What we're talking about here," he said, "are these kind of carry-over effects, whether they're auditory, whether they're tactile, whether they're visual. And people may have a nano-second or half-a-second when they think it's almost like they're in a game, but it's almost like a conditioned response and people know, very very quickly, that they are in the real world. And a lot of the time people are just amused by it. It's not something that's in any way causing problems."

It seems premature to draw any conclusions about GTP, because as Eurogamer points out, Griffith's paper is more about describing and defining the various forms it takes. Gamers do experience moments where conditioned-responses or expectations from games briefly manifest themselves in the real-world. Griffiths is looking at the ways that happens and, yes, some of them are a little disturbing. That's why Griffiths intends to do another study:

"We do want to look at whether some of the more negative carry-over effects - they need to be looked at further. And this will hopefully help game developers and publishers and players think about how much they're playing.

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