Category Archives: Reflections

Game Transfer Phenomena in BBC’s Digital Human

Is technology haunting us? Or we are haunting it? Aleks Krotoski wonders.

Traditional definitions of what is alive seem limited! Toys dance, cry, smile; advanced technologies are “smart”, and trick us making us feel they are present and even alive. Traces from virtual immersion appear and people see and hear things that are not actually there.

Join my conversation with Joe Brown, Science’s Editor in Chief and Executive Editor of Wired, Leigh Haggerwood, expert on horror sound design, Tobias Revell, artist and designer who explores failed utopias and unexplained phenomena and professor Jeffrey Sconce, media and film cultural historian. -With the bonus of the participation of gamers telling us about their Game Transfer Phenomena experiences.


We try to unveil the mysteries of how technology make inanimate things come alive and how sometimes our relation with technology trigger our deepest fears and anxieties, in BBC Radio 4’s Digital Human episode: “Haunted” with a spooky tone for Halloween!

Follow this link to listening the broadcast.


Pokémon GO is reviving old memories and creating new ones

On the way to a dinner, my boyfriend and I decided to catch some Pokémon. After a couple of encounters, we felt we needed to catch them all on our way to the restaurant. Suddenly, some of our old basic primal instincts as hunters and collectors have been brought back thanks to Augmented Reality. Fortunately, we were too hungry to keep going.

We found a Poké stop at a restaurant/bar where I used to meet with my old PhD colleagues. I was quite excited when I realised we could find something there.

By using the real world as a platform, Augmented Reality can make the game coincide with places that are already meaningful to us and this makes the experience even more rewarding.


Later, on the way back home I noticed how tall a pillar outside the theatre was. We had captured our third Pokémon earlier there; a rewarding experience!

Also, I could notice how I found myself paying attention to colourful stimuli while walking back home. Only a few encounters with fantastic creatures were enough to program my mind to pay attention to such stimuli. Selective attention in action!

Suddenly, one of the colours I hate the most, which is purple, became the centre of attention. “Oh, look a woman with purple hair!”, purples flowers; even a child’s toy on a stick reminded me of a Zubat!

This is our collection so far. If you notice five of the Pokémon are purple!


I’m starting to feel like the gamers that in my research on Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP) reported that after playing Mirror’s Edge found themselves paying attention to red objects.

attentional bias_mirrosedge no frame

Occasionally, I was playing around asking my boyfriend “Where is it? Where is it? Take a screenshot take a screenshot!” So, I was literally interacting with an invisible and virtual entity.  How bizarre does this sound, right!? A consensual hallucination without a doubt!

Well, in fact, some gamers do not need Augmented Reality for seeing images from the games in front of their eyes or superimposed onto real life objects. In my research on GTP gamers have stated to have seen health bars or tags above peoples’ head or above animals while others have seen images on the highway and have even followed them.

In my case, the images really existed, although only seen through the mobile screen. No holograms yet! but at least HoloLens is on its way!

GH_drivingfrets no frame

The best was the Pokémon close to a bin at the street of my university with a real world dove as an extra enhancement!Screenshot_20160715-183958

From all the objects around my university, the one I will probably remember the best once I move from Nottingham will be the bin with a Rattata next to it. The bin at my university street has now become a meaningful evocative object for me! I’m not surprised.

In my research on GTP, I have repeatedly found how real life objects that were simulated in the game and typically associated with rewarding experiences have become evocative objects. These objects are capable of triggered spontaneous thoughts, urges, involuntary movements of limbs and even make gamers see or hear video game elements that are not actually there.

For instance, here is an example of a gamer’s GTP reacting to bottle caps after playing Fallout.

bottle caps no frame

We also had some social encounters as novice explorers and hunters. We met a girl and laughed. Later on, a woman that looked at us through her window shouted: “what have you caught?”

A few blocks later we saw a couple looking at their mobiles. We assumed they were playing but when they passed by they stopped doing it, but then I looked back and the woman and I laughed when I said: “you are also playing!” It was funny. It gave me the impression that the couple was shy to show they were playing. This is interesting in terms of the controversies on the adoption of technology and particularly to play a game in public as adults!

We also meet a neighbour that I earlier in the day had seen going around looking at his mobile. He was indeed playing it as well.

I will come back with more… Time to go to sleep. Wish me good luck because according to one of our latest studies about GTP, experiencing GTP as pleasurable is a predictor of severe GTP, as are other involuntary phenomena such as recalling dreams or experiencing earworms. I may have some Pokémon dreams!

I hope to hear about your Pokémon GO adventures!

Applying game strategies to real life situations out of the blue


Playing a video game is a demanding visuomotor activity. It requires processing of a variety of sensory stimuli and puts in practice cognitive, perceptual and motoric skills.

Training with video games for specific purpose have demonstrated to enhance numerous skills, particularly “serious games” or “good games” which are used for learning or therapeutic purposes. Even commercial video games, which aim to purely entertain, have been associated with positive outcomes in tasks that measure for example visuomotor skills, memory and fast reaction time. For example, an increase in grey matter in the brain regions related to spatial orientation, memory formation, strategy planning and fine motor skills have been reported when playing Super Mario 64 for two months.

Some studies suggest that the enhancement of skills goes beyond the tasks specific to the game, where knowledge and strategies can be flexibly used across a variety of tasks and contexts. Although, others studies have showed that training gained from video games is mainly short-term and have specific training effects rather than generalized ones.

In research about Game Transfer Phenomena gamers have reported engage in mental acts as replaying game strategies in real life contexts out of the blue. These experiences can be interpreted in two extremes as: (i) transfer of implicitly learned abilities from the game to new contexts, or as (ii) stereotypical transfers of mental processes that show cognitive inflexibility and swift failures between virtual and real life tasks. These type of GTP experiences usually manifest shortly after stopping playing.

A gamer said that after trying to catch a special creature in a Pokémon game for a long period of time, when he was taking a break to eat, he found himself eating as a way to lower the health of the creature. He described the experience as “odd” and he felt as if the hate for the creature had “invaded” him.

Another gamer explained that he tried figuring out how to make the Lemmings walk across sentences in his word processor software. A few months ago, after being constantly climbing in the game Uncharted, I experienced something similar when typing some sentences after playing.


Other gamers have found themselves evaluating how to climb on the ledges of buildings, scanning for objects in corners, arranging objects in sets or engaging in mental rotations of figures they encounter in real life.

Our malleable brain quickly becomes accustomed to following patterns of responses to succeed in the game task. We easily get stuck on sequences of responses, which later on can become activated by game-related cues or when real life context provides the affordances for the transfer to occur.

Having this in mind some questions are opportune:
• How can this “stuck into patterns of responses” be used to induce processes in day-to-day context with therapeutic or educative values using video games?
• How can we induce these phenomena in non-clinical populations for understanding perseverative states that are the hallmark of disorders such as Autism?
• When can being stuck into such patterns of responses be maladaptive and become problematic?

In particular, doing repetitive activities for prolonged periods of time, as is the case of playing video games, facilitates mental fatigue. Under periods of mental fatigue, we are more at risk to commit executive-control failures. Our thoughts and actions are easily diverted by external stimuli. Associations between real life stimuli and video games have been found to be the triggers of many GTP experiences.

The compromise of executive functions under fatigue is probably the most important reason, hence the recommendation to not engage in activities such as driving or controlling machinery after being highly engaged in a video game; especially, when the game re-enacts real life objects or activities.

See related posts:

GTP Adventures – Lemmings crossing the sentences
GTP Adventures – Your steps are limited 


Further reading:

Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014). Automatic Mental Processes, Automatic Actions and Behaviours in Game Transfer Phenomena: An Empirical Self-Report Study Using Online Forum Data. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 4(12), 1-21.

Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., Aronsson, K., & Griffiths, M. D. (2011). Game Transfer Phenomena in Video Game Playing: A Qualitative Interview Study. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning 1(3), 15-33.

Kühn, S., Gleich, T., Lorenz, R., Lindenberger, U., & Gallinat, J. (2014). Playing Super Mario induces structural brain plasticity: gray matter changes resulting from training with a commercial video game. Molecular psychiatry, 19(2), 265-271.

Melby-Lervåg, M., & Hulme, C. (2013). Is working memory training effective? A meta-analytic review. Developmental psychology49(2), 270.

Adachi, P. J., & Willoughby, T. (2013). More than just fun and games: The longitudinal relationships between strategic video games, self-reported problem solving skills, and academic grades. Journal of youth and adolescence42(7), 1041-1052.

Van den Linden, D., Frese, M., & Meijman, T. F. (2003). Mental fatigue and the control of cognitive processes: effects on perseveration and planning. Acta Psychologica, 113(1), 45-65.

Controlling spontaneous visuals from video games


Gamers have reported a variety of visual Game Transfer Phenomena experiences. These include perceptual distortions of objects or environments, mind visualizations and pseudo-hallucinations where gamers have seen images from the game floating in the back of their eyelids or in front of their eyes.

Interestingly, while many gamers have simply seen the video game images either static or in movement, others claim they have even replayed full game sessions in their mind.

Also, some gamers said they could induce perceptual distortions based on elements from the game.

Being able to control visual sensory information that arise spontaneously, usually without our awareness more than deliberately imagining or visualizing video game segments is very challenging.

According to research, hypnagogic visual hallucinations (when images are seen at sleep onset) disappear when the individual tries to control the images. However, can visuospatial skills (e.g. mental rotation) and visual memory typically attributed to frequently playing video games contribute to exercise some control over the images?

I wonder to what degree gamers can actually control their visual experiences?

The control can include prolonging the duration of visuals, moving the images, replaying the game, and inducing the images.

It is important to make clear that there is a difference between imagining the video game images than experiencing the sensation of seeing coloured afterimages and shapes in the back of the eyelids.

If you look at a bright lamp for a short period, you will get an afterimage. You can also easily see a negative afterimage (with opposite colour) by looking at the cross in the centre of the image below.


Further readings

Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014a). Altered visual perception in Game Transfer Phenomena: An empirical self-report study. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 30(2), 95-105.
Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., Aronsson, K., & Griffiths, M. D. (2011). Game Transfer Phenomena in video game playing: A qualitative interview study. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning 1(3), 15-33.

The South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare‘s campaign based on Game Transfer Phenomena experiences

The Ministry of Health and Welfare in South Korea has launched a public service announcement warning about gaming addiction. The video portrays a variety of gamers’ experiences, similar as those we have reported in different studies on  Game Transfer Phenomena as part of my PhD thesis with over 3,500 gamers, manifesting in different sensory modalities, mental processes and behaviours.

The video shows a variety of scenes, where the viewers are asked to tick a box for each of the following experiences: hearing sounds from the video game when not playing, seeing video game characters triggered by seeing something in real life contexts, movements of fingers, and attacking someone when confusing her with a video game character. This last scene was in the first version of the Ad but later was removed due to negative response from the public (9).

Hearing sounds when not playing – In the studies on GTP, gamers have reported hearing music, sound effects and voices from the game in their head, coming from nowhere or from physical objects associated with the game when not playing (2).


Perceiving things as in the video games –  gamers have reported visual misperceptions or confusions of physical objects or persons (4), as well as automatic associations between persons and video games characters (3). Moreover, gamers have reported seeing images from games that go from seeing recurrent images in the back of the eyelids to seeing health bars above peoples’ heads or menus in front of their eyes (3, 5). 2 2.1

Movements of limbs – Repetitive movements of fingers (which I refer to as Tech-induced dyskinesia) have been reported as “instinctive”, “automatic” or initiated in a “playful way”. Moreover, involuntary movements of arms or fingers have occurred when thoughts or images of the game suddenly arose after playing; sometimes in response to real life stimuli associated with the game or when falling asleep (2).


Behaviours – In the studies on GTP  behaviours have mostly occurred as automatic actions such as approaching objects with the intention to do something as in the game and then realizing they are not in the game; verbal outburst is another example. However, there are a few extreme cases that have ended up in risky situations (3).



The GTP studies suggest that the duration of the visuals, sounds or thoughts mainly tend to be very short (seconds or minutes) but can occur recurrently (1).

In 2013, for the first time, the American Psychiatric Association’s updated version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-5) included “Internet Gaming Disorder” in the section of “conditions that require further study” (8). Even though researchers have made significant progress in understanding about internet/gaming addiction for more than a decade, we still do not have a recognized golden standard criteria for the diagnosis. Although, gaming addiction is a fact and has negative consequences for a small number of the population of gamers. In terms of GTP experiences, they have usually been reported in association with intensive and excessive video game playing but this is not always the case. In a survey as part of my PhD thesis, all of those who reported having problematic gaming or gaming addiction have experienced GTP (1). Also, in another study based on interviews some gamers who reported GTP had neglected other parts of their lives due to playing games (7), however, in most cases, GTP doesn’t have negative consequences (1).

A disorder such as behavioural addiction requires that a group of diagnostic criteria (symptoms) are fulfilled for a certain period of time, including a detriment in some areas of the life of the individual.

I argue that GTP are on the continuum between normal and pathological phenomena, and they are not necessarily an indication of addiction, however, in some cases “GTP could be manifesting as symptoms of gaming addiction (i.e., preoccupation for gaming, an anticipation of expected outcomes and withdrawal symptoms).” GTP seem to be the result of hyperstimulation and the interplay of physiological, perceptual and cognitive mechanism (1).

Can the recurrence, prevalence and negative consequences of experiencing altered perceptions and/or intrusive thoughts and/or automatic behaviours related to interactive virtual technologies become a syndrome, or should we just consider GTP as normal temporary and residual alterations in susceptible individuals?

Could GTP help us to solve the puzzle of gaming addiction? The beauty of GTP is that they can easily be identified, quantified and corroborated based on video game contents and gamers’ experiences in the game and after playing. Although, not all gamers are susceptible to experience GTP and how they manifest seems to depend on the structural characteristics of the games (1). I strongly believe that investigating GTP can broaden our understanding of the side-effects of video game playing, but also our understanding of normal non-volitional phenomena that we experience daily. To date, we have little understanding about cognitions, perceptions and behaviours post-play. This is one of the reasons why the goal of my PhD was to identify and explain non-volitional phenomena (altered perceptions, automatic thoughts, and automatic actions) that manifest in a large variety of ways.

Gaming/Internet addiction is considered a very serious public health issue in some Asian countries and a large number of studies have been conducted in this area (10). In South Korea laws have been introduced to try to reduce the problem. For example children 16 and younger are banned from playing online video games between midnight and early hours (11).

I don’t know what evidence the Ministry of Health and Welfare in South Korea has to link GTP as symptoms of gaming addiction but I would like to find out. Scientific evidence is compulsory.

I will present a paper at the “IV International Congress of Dual Disorders: Addictions and other Mental Disorders” where I will discuss  GTP in terms of gaming addiction, in case you want to know more. If you want a copy of the GTP papers just drop me an e-mail. You are welcome to visit my weekly cartoon collection “GTP adventures” which are part of my efforts to inform about and demystify these phenomena.


A recent study showed that those that experienced severe GTP (i.e., various forms of GTP and very frequently) are significantly more likely to have problems with gaming/addiction, play for longer than 6 hours per session and experience distress or dysfunction due to their GTP experiences.

Read the blog about the study.

Reference: Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., Oldfield, B., & Griffiths, M. D. (2016). An empirical examination of factors associated with Game Transfer Phenomena severity. Computers in Human Behavior, 64, 274-284.
maybe put “Reference:” as bold

News related: Comercial hace conciencia sobre adicción a los juegos en Corea


  1. Ortiz de Gortari, A.B., (2014).Exploring Game Transfer Phenomena: A multimodal research approach for investigating video games’ effects (doctoral dissertation). Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK.
  2. Ortiz de Gortari, A. B., & Griffiths, M. D. (2014). Auditory Experiences in Game Transfer Phenomena: An Empirical Self-Report Study. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning (IJCBPL), 4(1), 59-75.
  3. Ortiz de Gortari, A.B., & Griffiths, M.D. (2014). Automatic Mental Processes, Automatic Actions and Behaviours in Game Transfer Phenomena: An Empirical Self-Report Study Using Online Forum Data. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 4(12), 1-21.
  4. Ortiz de Gortari, A.B., & Griffiths, M.D. (2014). Altered Visual Perception in Game Transfer Phenomena: An Empirical Self-Report Study. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 30(2), 95-105.
  5. Ortiz de Gortari, A.B., & Griffiths, D.  (2012). The relevance of Game Transfer Phenomena when addressing problematic gaming. Journal of Cyberpsychology and Rehabilitation, 5(2), 143.
  6. Ortiz de Gortari, A.B., Aronsson, K., & Griffiths, M.D. (2011). Game Transfer Phenomena in Video Game Playing: A Qualitative Interview Study. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning 1(3), 15-33.
  7. Ortiz de Gortari, A. B. (2010). Targeting the Real life Impact of Virtual interactions: The Game Transfer Phenomenon 42 video games players’ experiences (Unpublished Master dissertation). Stockholm University, Stockholm.
  8. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Washington DC.
  9. Ashcraft, B. (2015, Febraury, 4) South Korea’s Game Addiction Ads Are Terrible. Kotaku. Retrieved February 4, 2015 from
  10. Kuss, D. J. (2013). Internet gaming addiction: Current perspectives. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 6, 125-137
  11. Associated Press in Seoul. (2013). South Korean MPs consider measures to tackle online gaming addiction. Retrieved 6 February, 2015, from

Google Glasses withdrawal: Tech-induced dyskinesia?

A_Google_Glass_wearerHave you ever tapped your fingers to the rhythm of a song or moved your feet reproducing the steps from Step Mania? What is the seductive nature of the repetitive movements we engage in our daily lives?

An intriguing case study reported by Yung, Eickhoff, Davis, Klam and Doan [1] has taken my attention. In this post I drag  parallels between the symptomatology of a patient remitted for the treatment of alcohol addiction at the US Navy’s Substance Addiction and Recovery program (SARP) and some of the Game Transfer Phenomena experiences reported to date [2-4].

The patient in question used Google Glasses for up 18 hours daily and when he was deprived of them due to the submission into the recovery programme he showed signs of withdrawal for not being able to use them. These manifested as seeing his dreams through the device and moving his right hand toward his temple where the Google Glasses should have been and tapped it with his finger, almost involuntarily. He stated, “The withdrawal from this is much worse than the withdrawal I went through from alcohol.” [1, p., 59].

Withdrawal symptoms and craving for tech devices such Google Glasses? Can this include tech-induced dyskinesia? With this I mean involuntary movements induced by technological devices and by the repetitive use of virtual objects. Maybe it is too soon to make conclusions.

In 1996, Goldberg [11] as a joke between psychologists proposed a diagnostic criterion for Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) that included “voluntary or involuntary typing movements of the fingers” as a withdrawal symptom. However, so far in terms of internet and gaming related disorder scholars have found mostly psychological withdrawal symptoms (e.g., irritability, anxiety) rather than physiological symptoms of withdrawal as the ones seen in the consumption of substances (e.g., shakiness). Although, some symptoms of physiological withdrawal identified in cases of internet/gaming disorders include psychosomatic symptoms [5] and over- responses (e.g., increased brain activity in the prefrontal cortex) [6]  to cues related to gaming.

Where is the connection with Game Transfer Phenomena?

Studies in Game Transfer Phenomena have showed the attachment to video game elements that are repetitively used and have important functions in the game (e.g., bionic arm). Gamers have seen or visualized video elements or reproduce involuntary movements associated with a game. (Here you can read my previous post about virtual phantom limbs).

Involuntary movements related with video game playing include:

Amusing executions of movements related to the game

Voluntary but perhaps in some cases automatic and repetitive movements of limbs.

Typing stuff on an imaginary keyboard at school during classes, and sometimes moving my thumbs when I walk or move around…” (Paol)

“When I was playing World of WarCraft I usually kept my fingers warm by pushing my fingers like if I pushed the buttons that I use in the game. I usually do it when I’m concentrating on something. I push my fingers in patterns and think of what that would do in the game its sort of meditative…like 6143… which is my rotation in wow” (Samuel, 16 years old)

“Tapping at class with my friends the steps we have memorize from Step Mania” (Mar)

Feel the movement of limbs while falling to sleep like pushing buttons

Also, gamers have reported multisensory experiences when images from the game were seen or visualized while feeling kinaesthetic sensations such as feeling their fingers twitching as if they were pushing the buttons on the gamepad. This phenomenon has been referred to as myoclonic jerking [7], hypnagogic jerk or myoclonic twitch [8]. For instance,

“It’s annoying, but very interesting. First this happened when started to play “DDR” [Dance Dance Revolution], as I was falling asleep I would literally feel my feet moving with an image I made up of the game in my head… Recently for “Robot Unicorn Attack,” as I fall asleep, I picture the game blowing by in my head, with my fingers twitching (at least they feel like they are moving) to control the unicorn”. (Boris)


Involuntary movement of limbs when thinking to use video games elements as a response to real life stimulus associated with the game

This last one is probably the most fascinating one, when gamers have experienced involuntary movements when thinking about using video game elements or pressing the gamepad (e.g., using a grappling hook, pressing the “R2” button) in real life contexts [2,3,4] and these are translated into involuntary actions as a result of ideomotor effects [9]

“A friend flung out his arm. He became embarrassed…without thinking he was trying to use the grappling hook from a Quake 2 mod to swing under the bridge” (Superpaul)

“After completing ‘Prince of Persia: Sands of Time’ when I accidentally dropped a sandwich with the butter side down, I instantly reached for the “R2” button. My middle finger twitched, trying to reach it. Only to discover that I didn’t have a PS2-controller in my hands” (Milton, 19).


Additionally, among the experiences of GTP there are cases were gamers reported repetitive execution of activities in the real world that resemble the video game world for feeling compelled to do something or say something as in the game. For example jumping every time when seeing a red object as in Mirror edge where you need to follow the red sings or picking up objects to examine them as when playing L.A Noire by investigating clues to resolve a criminal case [2]

Does the manifestation of involuntary thoughts, images and actions release anxiety as repetitive compulsions? Are these sings of craving for playing your favourite game?

Gamers have incorporated video game content into their dreams and have visualized or seen video game images in the mind or in the corner of their eyes when doing gaming unrelated tasks. Some have seen the real life world through Heads-Up Display that suddenly appear in front of their eyes [3, 11]; probably similarly as the patient described by Yung and colleagues [1] when he saw his dreams through the Google Glasses. I will discuss more about the visual experiences in my next post. Some visual experiences commonly reported by gamers.

We need to conduct more research to answer these questions. Maybe Goldberg was not so wrong after all about the involuntary movements of fingers as a sign of internet addiction. Tech-induced dyskinesia? For now it is interesting to spin the head and think of all the possibilities.

Please let me know if you have some Goggle Glasses to lend out. I would love to try them and I’m afraid I will need to wait quite some time to get my hands on some!


  1. Yung, K., et al., Internet Addiction Disorder and Problematic Use of Google Glass™ in Patient Treated at a Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program. Addictive Behaviors, 2014. 41(0): p. 58–60.
  2. Ortiz de Gortari, A. and M. Griffiths, Automatic Mental Processes, Automatic Actions and Behaviours in Game Transfer Phenomena: An Empirical Self-Report Study Using Online Forum Data. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 2014: p. 1-21.
  3. Ortiz de Gortari, A.B., K. Aronsson, and M.D. Griffiths, Game Transfer Phenomena in Video Game Playing: A Qualitative Interview Study. International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning 2011. 1(3): p. 15-33.
  4. Ortiz de Gortari, A.B., Targeting the Real life Impact of Virtual interactions: The Game Transfer Phenomenon 42 video games players’ experiences (Unpublished Master dissertation). Stockholm University: Stockholm. p. 68.
  5. Cao, H., et al., Problematic Internet use in Chinese adolescents and its relation to psychosomatic symptoms and life satisfaction. BMC Public Health, 2011. 11(1): p. 802.
  6. Han, D.H., et al., Changes in Cue-Induced, Prefrontal Cortex Activity with Video-Game Play. CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 2010. 13(6): p. 655-661.
  7. Grunewald, R.A., E. Chroni, and C.P. Panayiotopoulos, Delayed diagnosis of juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, 1992. 55(6): p. 497-9.
  8. Mitchell, S.W., Some Disorders of Sleep. The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 1890. 100(2): p. 109-127.
  9. Shin, Y.K., R.W. Proctor, and E.J. Capaldi, A review of contemporary ideomotor theory. Psychological bulletin, 2010. 136(6): p. 943-974.
  10. Ortiz de Gortari, A.B. and M.D. Griffiths, Altered Visual Perception in Game Transfer Phenomena: An Empirical Self-Report Study. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 2014. 30(2): p. 95-105.

GTP Adventures – Discussing visual experiences

In this comic, I have tried to portray two ways to interpret GTP.

Which one do you think is the best? Maybe this is not your case but which situation do you think can help a gamer who is worried about his/her GTP experiences?

Scenario 1



Scenario 2





Click here to visit the collection of GTP adventures.

The fixated nature of the brain & Game Transfer Phenomena

For years, I have been enthralled about the nature of repetition. I have observed how babies enjoy throwing objects repeatedly, playing hide and seek with persons and objects again and again, not to mention the joy adolescents find in watching the same movie several times (I did it in my time), and the pleasure of playing a video game task until you can dominate it (the Super Mario Bros.U really have me!). Master, control and intent to overcome and resolve a trauma in fantasy sceneries Freud might have said. Self-actualization Maslow might have remarked.

This video of a dog throwing and catching a ball really speed up my thoughts.

Interestingly, repetition and intrusiveness are a crucial features of numerous nonvolitional phenomena addressed in the GTP studies, such as auditory replays of music (earworms), recurrent (pseudo) hallucinations, flashbacks, obsessive thoughts, compulsions, stereotypical behaviours, perseverative responses, repetitive dream content, etc, etc. As you can see, the list is long. Many of these are symptoms of pathologies but non-clinical population can also experience these phenomena at some point to a certain degree. Resonances of the uncontrolled and fixated nature of the brain. The pleasure and the pain of the compulsive repetition.

I seriously never thought I was getting in such deep waters when I started researching about GTP, but I hope it can help us to gain some insights into these phenomena.

As far as I have understood by examining gamers’ experiences. GTP show us how the exposure to a novel stimuli can stimulate and over-stimulate our senses, and how rewarding can be trying to defeat a challenging task by playing a game repeatedly, to the degree that the brain struggles to get detached once we stop playing,  resulting in revivals of a stimulus (e.g., visual, auditory) even in its absence.

Maybe the brain does not want to lose any opportunity to be aroused. Not only are video game images seen, auditory cues heard, stereotypical thoughts with game content experienced by susceptible gamers during the sensory deprivation of the eyelids covering the eyes, but also, when gamers on days with a blue and cloudless sky come across real life stimuli associated with the game, evocative objects, which elicit replays of the game. Incomplete and unresolved situations that revolve our mind.

Intrusive Xbox Achievements

Apparently Microsoft has applied for a television-based achievements patent!!!

Watching live TV through the console may become interactive and rewarding. Viewers will be awarded and achievements could be obtained by watching certain TV programs or by interacting with advertisement content using the peripheral  sensor input device Kinect, which reads user movements, gestures and voice commands, this could take place by performing particular gestures or by showing a certain product for get an achievement. Achievements may appear more recurrently since the new Xbox console include  more ways to collect achievements by doing diverse activities.


This news caught my attention for the following reasons but before start; in case you don’t know what an Xbox-achievement is, in short it is a pop up that appears on the screen every time you complete something in the game (a challenge, quest or part). I probably should check my record, I may get surprised.  Click on the image, if you want to hear the achievement sound from the Xbox 360.


First, because currently, I am analyzing gamers’ auditory experiences in GTP and many gamers have reported to hear the “Xbox achievement plonk sound” when they are not playing. If the TV-based achievement patent is successful it seems that gamer may share their auditory  experiences of the Xbox achievement plonk with the whole family!

Hearing ghost sounds is relatively common (although, of course not everybody is susceptible to see or hear things when a stimuli is not present) and probably it is not a big deal, but what if every time that you drink a coke you hear the Xbox achievement plonk!, or what if the sound of the Xbox achievement plonk (either reproduced by the console or in your mind) elicit your cravings for a particular product? Are you sure you would be able to control your urges? Perhaps you will.

If something is clear in the studies about GTP it is that gamers’ visual and auditory experiences tend to elicit thoughts and sometimes these thoughts result in voluntary or involuntary actions and behaviors. Automatic associations between sounds, images and activities. Yes, I am talking about priming which is a very effective technique.

The second aspect which I reflect about is concerns about privacy. I don’t doubt that this may contribute to the gamification of TV watching and encourage competition among gamers. It sounds kind of fun. I maybe even be tented to try. But I am concerned about the amount of information the company will collect about users’ habits. We are no any longer far away from Orwell’s vision! We don’t have enough with cookies when surfing on the web, right! Is it not enough with points cards at stores?, Facebook profiles and likes?

Critical thinking is necessary. How much are the services company apparently provide us “by free” worth if we have to compromise our privacy and become “participative” consumers. In a co-operative society this sounds sweet, but it actually produces benefits for the companies. Certainly, this is not a new thing, we have seen this even in videogames or virtual communities were gamers can create content; Second Life was one where I put my money, hours and hours building in my dreamy virtual land. It was fun.

By the way, have you already bought a Coca-Cola bottle with your name? Personalized marketing… You can also have the pleasure to make free publicity for the company by showing the bottle for your friends or sharing it with the ones you want to know. Fantastic! (I have not be able to find my name. I don’t think my name is among the 150 more popular names in UK ;))

Innovative marketing strategies open many possibilities not only for pure entertainment. Achievements could be won by consuming vegetables or fruit. Although, showing it to the Kinect does not mean you are eating it but if you buy it perhaps you will be tempted to eat it, or even better, an “apple achievement completed” after you munched an apple in front to the Kinect … what about being able to get personalized achievements? What about setting up your own game time per week and getting an achievement for accomplishing your goal? If you keep not getting your reward then at least this may make you aware how much you are playing, wouldn’t it? Users could also track their achievements, compare with others and be aware which type of diet or products they are  consuming. Okay, let me stop with ideas here!

Not sure if everybody will get engaged with the idea about achievements but certainly the sound and the image from the achivement plonk  have popped up at some point in some gamers’ minds.

It seems there is a lot of potential in the achievement strategy. If Microsoft finally get the licenses hopefully the “violation” of privacy (even though with user approval) results in implementation of positive, innovative and healthy initiatives that benefit the population more than just entertainment. Companies have the money, power and the will to do it. Please do not make me wait too long.

If you want to read about the news:

Ortiz de Gortari, A.B. Auditory experiences in Game Transfer Phenomena: An empirical self-report study.

Ortiz de Gortari, A.B. & Griffiths M.D (15-16 July, 2013). Game Transfer Phenomena: How virtual experiences can influence gamers’ interactions outside the game. Social Networking in Cyberspace Conference 2013. Wolverhampton, UK.

Ortiz de Gortari, A.B. & Griffiths M.D (October, 2012). Game Transfer Phenomena: Digitally Induced Altered Perceptions. Paper presented at the ECREA 2012 Conference, Istanbul, Turkey.

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