A small portion of video gamers say they frequently experience a hallucination-like issue after playing–even hours after they are done gaming, they continue to hear the sounds associated with the game.
Approximately 12 percent of video gamers surveyed indicated they experienced the phenomenon of phantom sounds, sometimes hearing noise so clearly they though they were real.
The research, published in the Journal of Cyber Behaviour, Psychology and Learning, noted a number of common auditory hallucinations, including hearing cars, lasers, bullets, explosions, swords, screams, falling coins, ringing, beeping and breathing, with one video gamer indicating he heard a voice whispering “death.”
“This research supports findings of previous studies into game transfer phenomena (GTP), which show that videogame playing can induce pseudo hallucinatory-like experiences,” the study’s lead author, Angelica Ortiz De Gortari, of Nottingham Trent University in England, said in a statement. “These experiences can sometimes result in illogical thoughts and behaviors. It’s important to help gamers understand their experiences since re-experiencing sounds and voices may provoke distress, especially when associated with dangerous situations in the game.”
These lingering sounds most often affected video gamers after long sessions of gaming–when playing through the night or for days at a time. While some of the participants in the research indicated the auditory hallucinations were caused by certain real-world cues (like being in a subway), sometimes the sounds were random and required no prompting at all.
“Game transfer phenomena appears to be commonplace among excessive gamers and most of these phenomena are short-lasting, temporary, and resolve of their own accord,” added researcher Mark Griffiths. “For some gamers, the phenomena are conditioned responses, therefore the best way for the tiny minority that may have longer lasting phenomena is to simply cut down the amount they play.”
Griffiths and Gortari first presented findings on GTP in 2011 as a means of understanding gaming addiction more thoroughly.
“It’s probably not that different from the way you may relive a TV program or a film you’ve seen,” Griffiths said in an earlier interview with The Guardian. “It’s just that, in terms of screen-based technology, a lot of people now spend more time playing games than watching TV. We’re not saying this is a new phenomenon, we’re trying to categorize all the different types of experience. Some people may be worried that they’re seeing things, but if they know it’s a fairly normal phenomenon with no long lasting effects it might make them feel better. If we find in our future research that GTP is mostly experienced by intensive game players, we may be able to set time limits in order to stop the effects from happening.”