New Game Transfer Phenomena website

Game Transfer Phenomena is renovating and moving to a new virtual home!

Thanks to all of you that have followed this blog from the start in 2010.

Please keep following the journey of Game Transfer Phenomena at


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The joy & the pain of recruiting for a study

FZ.se_logTo my surprise, my survey made it to the front page of the Swedish gaming site Thank you for embracing science! Happy to see that the recruiting part of the inevitable process of research is valued!

I felt a little melancholy since my research on Game Transfer Phenomena started thanks to motivated and open-minded Swedish gamers who spent hours telling me about how gaming had influenced their lives. This resulted in the first published paper in 2011.

It is challenging to accomplish the goal without stakeholders embracing and acknowledging the value of knowledge, research and science.

This really takes me to the controversy if participants should or should not be rewarded for participating in research.

When I wanted to offer participation in an Amazon vouchers raffle as a gift for participating in the survey, the board of ethics at my university considered it as instigation to gambling. Not easy my dear researcher colleagues!

Interestingly, so far, my own experience this is a common practice and it is even used by some universities for filling out student satisfaction surveys. I even got a price once! 😊 In any case, there are a few caveats when participants join research for other than just intrinsic motivations.

I’m resisting to recruit participants only inside the confines of our lovely academia, which would be the easy thing to do!

Unfortunately, I have been banned in various gaming outlets, for spamming. Reaching stakeholders is not always easy or possible.

Gamers, I know you are out there, but how I can reach you?

You have not even had a chance to decide if you want to join the journey of the understanding of Game Transfer Phenomena.

I’m just starting, but it has been exhaustive!

Thanks to all that have collaborated promoting the survey so far! Special thank you to Rodrigo Villanueva and Pablo Lopez.

Any ideas, tips, etc are welcome!

Please participate (and spread the link):

Game Transfer Phenomena, Augmented Reality and Pokémon Go

AR and no AR Pogo

It is easy to imagine how Augmented Reality technologies will transform, enhance or distort our everyday perceptions by superimposing vivid synthetic images on real world sceneries.

Localization-based quasi-augmented reality games such as Ingress and more recently Pokémon Go, offer possibilities to get the first insights of Game Transfer Phenomena and Augmented Reality (AR).

I was particularly thrilled to investigate GTP in Pokémon Go, a game of massive appeal and positive attributes.

Four out of five Pokémon Go gamers (80.9%) reported having experienced some type of GTP at some point (n=1,085). This is relatively many but less than in previous studies I have conducted with other video games (e.g., 96%). These findings raise other questions.

Could playing a game, which includes digital images that are superimposed and seemingly merged with sceneries and objects of the physical world be related to gamers’ reports of seeing images from the game after playing or misperceiving objects from the real world with those from the game?

To my surprise, Pokémon Go gamers tend to not play with the AR function enabled. According to a preliminary analysis of one of my explorative surveys on Pokémon Go (n=196), only 38% used the AR function.

Playing with the AR function enabled increases the battery usage, and some gamers also say that the AR function makes it harder to capture Pokémon due to lack of precision.

Interestingly, playing with the AR function was not significantly associated to experiencing almost any of the visual related GTP, only for misperceptions of physical objects.

Moreover, more of those who played with the AR function enabled reported perceptual distortions of objects/environments and less reported seeing images related with Pokémon Go after playing (with closed or open eyes).

It seems that seeing images overlaid on real life context may facilitate confusing objects later on in the physical world with something from the game, this may be explained because our brains tend to interpret stimuli based on previous experiences. Gamers have reported confusing birds with planes from a video game in previous studies.


These findings leave us with speculative thoughts. It appears that the time of exposure to the video game images, the type of images (e.g., brightness, colour), and individual factors may be more important to re-experiencing images from the game after playing than the actual use of the AR feature.

In a previous study, gamers have reported seeing images after playing very repetitive games and playing for prolonged periods of times. Gamers have also seen images of game tags, text boxes and power bars triggered by associations in real world sceneries.

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Another interesting finding was regarding playing the game with or without sound. 57% played Pokémon Go with sound. Playing with the sound on was related to experiencing hearing music and sounds when not playing and also misperceptions of real life sounds with those from the game. This finding shows the importance of the exposure to video game features! How many times has the music got stuck in your head after listening to a song?

What kind of images do gamers re-experience after playing? Afterimages?, hallucinations?, imaginations? How do you qualify your GTP experiences? How does the interplay work between physiological, perceptual and cognitive mechanisms involved in gamers’ sensorial experiences?

In my research, I have identified diverse types of GTP that seem to be explained by related but different mechanisms. We need to research more into this matter.

I wonder what ventures augment reality/mixed reality will bring us? I am excited to keep exploring!

In my next post, I will tell you more about my findings regarding the use of the AR function and playing Pokémon Go with sound!

Further reading:

  1. Ortiz de Gortari, A. B. (2017). Game Transfer Phenomena and the Augmented Reality Game Pokémon Go: The prevalence and the relation with benefits, risks, immersion and motivations. Paper presented at the 22nd Annual CyberPsychology & Cyber Therapy Conference, Wolverhampton, UK.
  2. Ortiz de Gortari A. B., & Griffiths M. D. (2016). Prevalence and Characteristics of Game Transfer Phenomena: A Descriptive Survey StudyInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 32(6), 470-480.
  3. Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014). Altered Visual Perception in Game Transfer Phenomena: An Empirical Self-Report StudyInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 30(2), 95-105.
  4. Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014). Auditory experiences in Game Transfer Phenomena: An empirical self-report studyInternational Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning 4(1), 59-75.
  5. Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., Aronsson, K., & Griffiths, M. D. (2011). Game Transfer Phenomena in video game playing: A qualitative interview studyInternational Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning, 1(3), 15-33.

Participate in the new survey on Game Transfer Phenomena

and make your voice heard!

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Participate in a new survey on Game Transfer Phenomena!

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Participate in a new survey on Game Transfer Phenomena! The study aims to examine the relation between GTP and involuntary phenomena without video game contents.

You should be at least 18 years old to participate.

Follow this link to participate!

Please share it with your friends 🙂

Looking for pilots for a survey on Game Transfer Phenomena

GTPS-R banner_plusicon_NGamers, followers! We need your help.

I’m looking for gamers for a pilot test of a new survey on Game Transfer Phenomena!

Please send me an email if you are interested.

Answering the survey will take max 25 minutes.



“Little Nightmares” & Game Transfer Phenomena in Die Zeit

I’m not a fan of nightmares, but “Little Nightmares” is something I’m happy to experience!

The horror puzzle platform game developed by Swedish developers Tarsier Studios received high praise when it was released a couple of weeks ago.

In his article in Die Zeit Achim Fehrenbach goes into research on dreams and Game Transfer Phenomena.

The experiences we get from playing video games are pervasive, and game contents can appear in dreams and even when we are awake as spontaneous thoughts and sensory phenomena such as visual, auditory and tactile sensations.

Research of my colleague Jayne Gackenbach has found that frequent gamers tend to have more bizarre dreams and that playing video games have a sort of “protective mechanism against nightmares,” since gamers are used to be confronted with dangerous and bizarre situations when they play.

Whitney Reynolds writes this in her review about the game in Polygon:

“As I drifted off after an evening of playing the spooky puzzle-platformer, my mind filled with images of unnaturally long arms reaching for tiny hooded figures and I woke with my heart racing.”

I have also played it a bit, but after my first session the game contents have not popped up in my dreams or during daytime.

Part of the bizarreness of ”Little Nightmares” is that you play this tiny, cute and seemingly vulnerable character with thin legs and small feet, almost fully hidden inside a yellow raincoat, in a gigantic and disproportionate world.

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Playing in a giant environment reminds me of one gamer’s experience in my research. The gamer reported feeling small after having played “Castle Crashers” where the environment is also gigantic. I wonder if something similar happens to the players of “Little Nightmares.”


Castle Crashers

The game is filled with darkness, shiny figures, sounds of heart palpitations when you are starving, etc. The guy with the extremely long arms is great! Every time something caught you, you expect to be eaten or smashed, but so far the game does not show such violent content. I’m happy the game does not show my failure in a crude way, but curiously I’m missing the extra depiction of failure every time I got caught by a “monster.” This paradox is without a doubt a topic to discuss on another occasion.

Have “Little Nightmares” had any effect on you?

Have you perceived or had the sensation that things around you change of size or perhaps you have felt smaller? Have you had some visual experience involving the yellow coat or perhaps some other experience?

For my  German speaking readers, follow this link for the full article in Die Zeit.

Book chapter on Game Transfer Phenomena: Beyond the Boundaries of the Game

The book Boundaries of Self and Reality Online: Implications of Digitally Constructed Realities edited by Jayne Gackenbach & Johnathan Bown, includes a chapter by me and Mark D. Griffiths. “Beyond the Boundaries of the Game: The Interplay Between In-Game Phenomena, Structural Characteristics of Video Games, and Game Transfer Phenomena”.GTP_BOUNDARIES OF SELF AND REALITY ONLINE

This chapter is a first attempt to map in-game phenomena and structural characteristics of video games, with transfers of game experiences manifesting in a number of modalities: altered perceptions, automatic mental processes, and behaviours with the purpose of stimulating future empirical work for hypothesis testing. This chapter also examines which phenomena, inherent to the video game world and elements in the gameplay, appear to contribute to the transfer of game experiences.

We have identified four core factors relevant for GTP to occur: (1) sensory perceptual stimulation, (2) high cognitive load, (3) dissociative states, and (4) high emotional engagement.

I want to thank my dear colleague Jayne Gackenbach for the invitation to collaborate in this book. It is a particular pleasure for me to appear in a book together with John Suler, one of my favourite scholars when I started investigating the psychosocial effects of Internet and addiction in 1998 for my undergraduate thesis for becoming a psychologist.

John Suler’s initiative with his website on the psychology of the Cyberspace together with  Sherry Turkle and her book “The life on the screen”, Kimberly Young with her centre Net Addiction and her book “Caught in the Net”, and Mark D. Griffiths’ research were crucial for me choosing Cyberpsychology as my main area of research.

I remember my times in “the Palace” (a visual, spatial and auditory chat environment that palacewas quite advance for 1995) where Suler conducted his social research on the psychology of the cyberspace.

Wow! This really brings back memories about the ambience in there. I can almost remember the sounds!

Public conference: The intersection of hallucinations & media

Join us at the Hallucinema conference where we explore the intersection of hallucinations and media organized by Abou Farman, hosted at The New School, a university in New York City. NSSR Game Transfer Phenomena

 “We live in hallucinatory times. The distinction between imagination and perception, on which understandings of reality are based, seem to be collapsing everywhere in our hyper-mediated environment. What is the relationship between visual images, mental representations, and perception? Can the conjunction of hallucination and cinema help us explore these realms? Hallucinations are considered to be illusions – dysfunctional, pathological – in a way that experiences of projected images are not. Yet for some time now, cultural theorists have forwarded concepts such as phantasmagoria, simulacra and the hyper-real that complicate the reality of illusions and the illusion of reality. Media theorists claim that cinema is an illusion-forming medium while others have explored the proximity of dreams, visions and cinema.

This conference will convene in the productive space of the overlaps between cinematic image-rendering and hallucinations. Aside from depictions of one in the other, how do hallucinations and cinema relate? What do we get when we cross one with the other? Or are they already crossed? The panel will explore the role of other kinds of illusion-forming media, such as plants and dreams, in the making, writing and production of films; the movie theater as a synaesthetic space; the possibility that images – hallucinatory or otherwise – affect the body in ways that might be considered curative or, the opposite, in ways that produce psychosis”. (Text extracted from the call to the conference).


Where: Rm. B500, Wollman Hall, 65 W 11 St., The New School, New York City, USA.

When: Thursday, March 30, 1:00 PM – 7:30 PM EDT

Participants: Richard Doyle, Tarek Elhaik, Abou Farman, Yulan Grant, Ute Holl, Chrissie Iles, Nicolas Langlitz, Angelica Ortiz de Gortari, Anand Pandian, Jenny Perlin, Genevieve Yue. Check here for more information about the participants.

Please RSVP your attendance here.

Game Transfer Phenomena in Washington Post’s “The screen age” series


Washington Post is running a series of stories on growing up in “The screen age”. In the most recent story “The next level” they go into the case of “Byrne”, his struggles with gaming addition and the impact on his family. Byrne has also experienced Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP).

“After Byrne’s prolonged periods of play, his parents noticed that his temperament was unusually volatile. The muscles in his back and neck felt tense and tight. His eyes would sometimes twitch. Lines of dialogue from the games would pop into his mind unbidden. At school, the class dismissal bell occasionally sounded just like the two-tone chime that signaled a new friend joining a game online — a sort of auditory hallucination that researchers refer to as Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP), in which the boundaries between reality and the game begin to blur.
Nicholas Kardaras, a New York psychotherapist and author who specializes in addiction, still remembers the very first gamer he treated who suffered from GTP: a teenage boy in a Metallica T-shirt who appeared frightened and confused as he sat in Kardaras’s office…”

I’m a bit unsure if Byrne was hearing, seeing or thinking about the dialogues from the game. I have found all these manifestations in my research on GTP.

Hearing voices from the game inside the head, as a sort of inner speech because of internalizing auditory images of speech without pronouncing a sound has been reported with video games that have repetitive dialogues and commands. “Go, Go”, “Welcome back”, “over time, over time”. Probably dialogues from online conversations can also manifest in similar ways.

Gamers have also repeatedly heard music or sound in the head as involuntary auditory imagery, very similar as when a melody that you like (or hate) gets stuck in your head! Additionally, gamers have heard sounds coming from objects associated with the game, as a more genuine form of “auditory hallucination”.

In terms of visual experiences, spontaneous visualizations of images from the game are one of the most common GTP experiences. Gamers have even seen menus that pop up in the corner of their eyes and menus or tags above people’s head.

At times Byrne thought that the dismissal bell at school sounded like a signal from the game. Misinterpretations of real life stimuli (e.g. objects, sounds) that resemble something from the game has been broadly reported. Gamers have interpreted birds as fighting jets, or interpreted doors being shut as spiders crawling.

The links between GTP and gaming addiction has not been clearly established yet, but in one of our latest studies 7% of those that have experienced GTP very frequently and in various forms were significantly more likely to consider having problematic gaming or gaming addiction. They played sessions of 6 hours or longer and 58% of those have experienced distress or/and dysfunction due to GTP.

Read the full story about Byrne here.

Proposition de prémémoire/mémoire pour ULg students

Quel effet psychologique des jeux vidéo et de la réalité virtuelle?
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“Quand je jouais beaucoup à World of Warcraft… je commençais à voir des barres de vie au-dessus de la tête des gens”                                                                      Charlie, 17

Collaborez sur un projet de post-doctorat visant à mieux comprendre le « Game Transfer Phenomena » (GTP) ! Le GTP est une manifestation similaire aux hallucinations, pensées spontanées et comportements involontaires qui surviennent après avoir joué à des jeux vidéo.

Une approche novatrice en recherche, qui peut inclure l’utilisation de casques réalité virtuelle !

But: Comprendre les mécanismes cognitifs et perceptuels sous-jacent au GTP

  • Deux seules places disponibles !

Si vous souhaitez participer à ce projet :
Dr. Angelica Ortiz de Gortari

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