“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.


About Angelica B. Ortiz de Gortari

Dr. Angelica B. Ortiz de Gortari is Marie Curie Postdoctoral Research fellow in Cyberpsychology. Critical inquiry on the psychosocial implications of interactive media technologies has been her professional passion since undergraduate school, when she conducted one of the first studies on internet addiction. Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP) is her area of research expertise, for which she has won awards. Dr. Ortiz de Gortari’s research has been featured in different media worldwide including Discovery News, History Channel News, BBC World Service, the New Scientist and the International Herald Tribune. Her research on GTP has even inspired an episode of the TV series CSI: Cyber. She has published academically and presented at several international conferences. The goal of her research is maximizing the psychological and social benefits of interactive virtual technologies while reducing the potential risks it can present to some individuals.

Posted on May 18, 2017, in News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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