Fantasy And Reality: Can Gamers Tell?

By John Walker on September 21st, 2011 at 12:34 pm.

Here's me on my holidays.

Did you know that you can’t tell reality from fantasy? No, I’m not a twenty-foot dragon from Saturn, silly! I’m a human. But you can’t tell. I know this because the Metro told me so. According to the free rag, Nottingham Trent university researchers have revealed that gamers get so immersed in fantasy that they are unable to distinguish the real world. So this must be based on a broad, far-reaching study for the paper to make such a statement, right? No of course not. It’s an interview study of 42 people. Which I’ve now read. And has nothing to do with the Metro’s conclusions. So obviously I’m going to take issue with the Metro’s coverage, but then get a little bit deeper when taking issue with the paper itself.

I don’t mean to get all Ben Goldacre, but the wilful ignorance of newspaper coverage of science stories makes my brain hurt. This tiny proportion of people were selected on the basis of being aged between 15 and 21, and playing more than ten hours of games a week (an epic hour and 25 minutes a day). So not exactly a broad representation of anything, let alone gamers. It is, in fact, a study of teenagers, which doesn’t get mentioned anywhere in the coverage.

So let’s take a look at these examples of people losing the ability to distinguish reality.

“One 15-year-old named Simon (the names used are not their real names) admitted wanting to use a ‘gravity gun’ from the game Half Life to fetch something from the fridge.”

Er. Right. Who wouldn’t? I want to be able to fly, or not need to wee. But I’m able to tell that these things aren’t possible. There’s no evidence shown to suggest that Simon believes that gravity guns are real, because he obviously doesn’t.

“Another gamer, Milton, 19, said when he dropped a sandwich after playing Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time his finger ‘twitched’ as he tried to retrieve it with his console.”

Ah, right, that’s what they mean.

“Linus, 19, said he thought he could use a search button in World of Warcraft when he tried to look for his older brother in a crowd. Others said they unwittingly acted out situations inspired by games.”

In other words, the research has discovered that repeating a task many times in a game means your brain flickers on the idea of doing it in real life. Of course! The number of times my brain has wanted to scroll up and down a magazine page, or been frustrated that wiggly red lines don’t appear under spelling mistakes when I’m writing… But I’m fairly convinced I have a reasonable grip on the distinction between reality and fantasy, despite all that word processing I do.

So of course at this point it’s time to actually look at the paper from which this is all drawn. And as one of the paper’s authors, Dr. Mark Griffiths told us, these papers have their own agenda.

It is, in fact, a study of what they’re calling Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP), where elements of gaming are associated with elements of real life, “triggering subsequent thoughts, sensations and/or player actions.” These were grouped as either intentional or automatic experiences. The stated goal was not to prove that games are dangerous, but simply to study their Game Transfer Phenomenon with relation to understanding how immersion works.

Those interviewed were 42 Swedes (39 male, 3 female) between 15 and 21, who played a broad range of games regularly. And the incidents of these gaming ideas in their real life are really fun! Like the 19 year old who, when trying to find his brother in a crowd, considered using the /who function. Or the 17 year old who starts seeing walls and buildings as potential routes after playing lots of Assassin’s Creed.

Which I think we can all quite anecdotally associate with that feeling of coming out of a big, action film at the cinema, and feeling like you could run incredibly fast, or lift up a car. These gamers report finding themselves looking at real life structures in the same way as they would in-game, looking for weaknesses or sniping points. It then goes on to describe the much-studied “Tetris effect” where you continue to see the shapes and patterns when you close your eyes, or in your dreams. Something that has proven absolutely essential for scientific research into dreaming since the 90s.

Things get more interesting when the paper discusses hypnagogic effects, such as imagining health bars above people’s heads, or perceiving dialogue choices when in conversations. Neither of course suggests an inability to distinguish reality from fantasy, but instead makes for interesting study into the way fantasy can augment an understood reality. But then it all starts to look rather trivial again as the study reports examples of teenagers, well, playing. Hiding in a box like Solid Snake, talking like cowboys. Basically normal imitative behaviour.

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The paper has a few distinct issues. One being a huge proportion of other papers cited were also co-authored by Griffiths. With an interest in so-called “gaming addiction”, for which scant useful evidence actually exists, Griffiths is no stranger to gaming controversies. Although he has also published a number of papers recognising the broad range of benefits of gaming. It also makes rather liberal use of the word “perhaps”, every time it wants to make an unsubstantiated claim.

“Today’s video games have evolved due to technological advance, resulting in high levels of realism and emotional design that include diversity, experimentation, and (perhaps in some cases) sensory overload.”

Regarding the claims of dissociation, the paper itself identifies this as “fuzzy”, pointing out that there’s “no clear accepted definition of what it actually constitutes.” It then goes on to fudge a rather ambiguous association with gaming, seemingly deliberately ignoring the trauma aspects one would more usually associate with dissociative behaviour.

It’s also a little troubling that there’s a seeming lack of familiarity with the games being discussed. The typographical error, “When just ‘Cause 2′ got released…” is telling.

But most significantly, and of course a typical flaw in interview-based research, is that the psychological profiles of those taking part were not looked into, let alone taken into account (as the paper goes on to discuss in its discussion). One subject referred to as Linus, aged 19, contributes some of the more extreme responses (such as dancing like a WoW character in his school), and “Carl”, also 19, who reports that he has brief urges (on which he does not act) to throw himself down stairways and steal cars. Because only 42 were studied, and because they were selected from Swedish gaming forums without any psychological profiling, such anecdotes are pretty much useless out of context. Perhaps “Carl” does suffer from delusions and dissociation, and games aren’t helping him (although the evidence given here suggests not, just that he recalls gaming actions in real life before dismissing them). But we don’t know, and there’s certainly no proof, nor any attempt to prove, that gaming would be the cause of this. Terms like “intrusive thoughts” – a condition associated with anxiety disorders – are used astonishingly inappropriately here, again without evidence.

The language used also seems to try to create sensation where there is none. In the section on violent reactions in real life, it admits that these are all imagined and not acted on. But almost reluctantly, with language like,

“Violent solutions to real life conflicts appeared to be used by a few of the players, at least in their imaginations.”

That’s just abysmal phrasing in a scientific paper, almost as bad as the newspapers so lazily misquoting it all. It should more properly read, “Violent solutions to real life conflicts were not used by players, but some imagined doing so.”

I also find the paper’s use of the word “even” to be extremely unhelpful. Repeatedly it editorialises with this word to imply more than is being reported. For instance,

“Some players reported that their perception of the world had changed, at least temporarily, when they found themselves integrating dangerous scenarios in the real life environment. Most of the time these experiences appeared as a thought, but one player even performed an action to avoid the possible danger.”

Again the phrasing sensationalises before admitting the reality. And the use of “even” is entirely unnecessary – this is supposed to be reporting findings, not being astonished by them. And the incident? It’s Linus again, who said that he once chose to stick to the path when walking through some woods, because he’s “less likely to get attacked my [sic] mobs.”

It’s also not helpful that they conclude that imagined things were “hallucinations”, which is an extremely strong word to describe seeing floating images after staring at a repeated pattern for a long time. Such exaggeration reaches the point of farce when the discussion of uncanny moments of associating games with life is described as opening “a ‘Pandora’s Box’ for some players”. Yes, thinking that a street looks a bit like Assassin’s Creed is very much the same as unleashing all the evil forces in the universe.

Perhaps the most strange and heavily biased aspect of the study comes in what the researchers choose to dismiss. Gamers reporting to them that they can distinguish reality from fantasy even during the GTP events is dismissed, based on other things the gamers said. Which makes no sense at all. Because the researchers conclude these anecdotes are examples of hallucinations, delusions, etc, with no psychological evidence, it is considered that this contradicts the gamers’ statements that they are able to distinguish such moments. Why not the other way around? This is not considered. Nor is the similarity of these effects with watching television or film. Clearly this is a study of gaming, but to not mention that the same effects are commonplace from other media is wilfully ignorant.

Of course the study does go on to list its own flaws, as is only proper. It acknowledges that the sample size was extremely small, and that “the findings cannot be generalized in a mechanical way.” It also mentions that the questions used in the interviews (most of which were electronic) “may have influenced the experiences reported by the players and the incidence of certain experiences.”

And its final conclusion? “Modern video games’ realistic scenarios may trigger associations between the two worlds among some individuals.” Aside from the complete failure to explore the concept of “realistic scenarios” at any point during the study, indeed referencing Tetris and Guitar Hero as often as GTA or Assassin’s Creed, and that making such a conclusion is mystifying, it’s rather important to note that this does not, in any sense, suggest that gamers cannot tell the real world from fantasy, as the Metro newspaper claims.

Of course, it’s worth noting the Metro’s agenda here. The “Related Items” bar at the side lists the following headlines in order:

“‘Call Of Duty makes gamers dumb’ says Dishonoured developer”

“Nintendo 3DS ‘makes gamers sick’”

“Teenage gamer hangs himself in ‘virtual suicide mistake”

It’s taking all my strength not to pick apart the nonsense in each of those three stories too. And of course on the other side of the screen are the newspaper’s links to its Gamescom 2011 coverage. Gosh, it will eat all of that cake. Perhaps they’re best off sticking to reporting how Nic Cage is a vampire.

Then of course there’s the Mail’s approach to the story, where they use it as proof that GTA caused the killing on that submarine.

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167 Comments »

  1. Sirico says:

    Hold up let me put some points into persuasion, so I can tell you why you’re wrong

  2. Moth Bones says:

    Writing behaviour!

    You should get all Ben Goldacre, he’s a living demigod.

  3. Zanchito says:

    Welcome to the world of science reporting!!

    This is appropiate:

    http://exquisitelife.researchresearch.com/.a/6a00e54ee8dd9788330153916d3d44970b-800wi

  4. Zogtee says:

    John is glowing red now, which means he’s really angry and will do more damage.

  5. Will Tomas says:

    The Metro (in the UK) is owned by The Daily Mail. For those of you who weren’t familiar with that.

    Also, brilliant article. Another great work of proper journalism by John. Up with this sort of thing!

    • mongpong says:

      I didn’t know that but it explains a lot.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      The Daily Mail are a law unto themselves and seem to get away with the most astounding misrepresentations of the truth.

      One particularly fine example was an article they ran about benefit claimants who also work. They focused on Disability Allowance Claimants, citing that 70% of them (I think – I’ll not add to their hit count by researching it) are cheating the system by claiming the benefit and working. Sounds like perfect DM territory, they spewed the most vile hateful crap about the disabled people who did this and furthered their nasty spread of misinformation.

      Let me explain. Disability Living Allowance is money given to disabled people to help them to lead a normal life – so if you require a wheelchair, you may get £10 a week. If you have very serious needs, you can claim a maximum of some £80 a week. But here’s the real point – this fund is there to allow disabled people to function on an even playing field as everyone else – it is not an “Out of work” benefit – you are equally entitled to claim it whether you are in work or out of work.

      So their disgusting words about people who claim the benefit and work included referring to them as “Scum”. These people, being some of the most vulnerable in society naturally complained and the daily mail duly issued an apology. The original article was a front page special, the apology was a couple of centimetres buried in the filthy rag somewhere.

      That article was directly responsible for at least three hate crimes – one local to me was a wounded soldier who after innocently mentioning his job to a low life who knew he was claiming the benefit, beat him senseless with his own crutches and drove him 10 miles deep into the new forest before dumping his unconscious body. His defence was that he had just read that article and was “Still worked up about it”

      There’s some responsible journalism (sarcastic)

      Another example of the daily mails stellar journalism was reporting that (and again I’m giving estimated figures) there had been an 80% rise in disability claims in 5 years or some such. Once you check the sources you discover that firstly, the real figure is 20%, secondly, there were issues to do with the changing of the benefits system which caused that rise and thirdly, if you correct for all that, the number of disability claimants per capita actually dropped due to rising population.

      That’s right, the daily mail took figures which show a reduction in disability claimants and with a little “daily mail magical journalism” turned into a hateful sensationalist piece about the massive increase in benefit claimants.

      I will never judge anyone for the paper they read, but it makes me sad when I realise someone reads that paper.

    • JFS says:

      I was already wondering what this “Metro” thing is. Thanks for clearing it up.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      The odd thing with the Metro is that it oscillates wildly between general unbiased coverage that is incredibly centrist (and in stark contrast with the Mail’s populist far-right bullshit) and the odd “IMMIGRANTS ARE STEALING OUR JOBS” Daily Fail articles like this one. Sadly, the Evening Standard is even worse – utter trash – so the free papers here are generally bad.

      Anyway, yes, I saw this this morning and thought “oh, look, John Walker is going to post about this!”

    • Magnetude says:

      “The Metro is a book popular among young people that allows its users, or ‘readers’ as they call themselves, to live out fantasies of murder, rape and tax evasion. Some studies have suggested a link between experiencing these acts in text and going on to act them out in real life; it is thought that Ian Huntley, Harold Shipman and Adolf Hitler were all regular ‘paper readers’.”

    • Groove says:

      “I didn’t know that but it explains a lot.”

    • Chufty says:

      The Metro is such a poor quality publication, even by newspaper standards, that it would be funny if it wasn’t so influential.

      I remember once reading a front page article about nurse’s pay. With a disgracefully meagre pay rise of just 1.2%, it was way below the 2% rate of inflation.

      This was the middle of the recession where CPI inflation was at 2% and RPI inflation was at 0% due to the housing market crash.

      On the very same front page, in an adjacent article, was a report on council tax rises in the UK. Some councils were hiking prices by the insane, “inflation-busting” figure of…. 1.2%. Because, you see, in this article, inflation is 0%.

      They couldn’t have made their twisted sensationalism more obvious if they’d tried.

  6. Riotpoll says:

    Tiny sample size.

  7. Pod42 says:

    After a long, long session of BF2 at a friends house, walking back home at night I passed someone and for a second seen a red name above their head and had an urge to shoot them. Also used to hear the UAV bleeps all the time, now it’s the Steam message bloops.

    • LionsPhil says:

      COMPUTER GAMES CAUSE DESIRE TO SHOOT INNOCENT PASSERS BY, GAMER ADMITS

    • nubbuka says:

      When you’ll want to go buy milk in the morning ask the commander to drop you a buggy for faster traveling.

    • noom says:

      I had a similar thing after playing a lot of Black Ops one weekend. Saw a plane flying overhead and felt the sudden urge to whip out my rocket launcher and shoot it out the sky.

      Thank God I wasn’t carrying a rocket launcher at the time.

    • Shuck says:

      I’ve had the urge to use the “undo” function in life for many, many years. Especially when dating.

  8. Brumisator says:

    You know what’s really dangerous? Playing a lot of grand theft auto and ten getting into a real car.

    You know what’s really fun? Playing a lot of oblivion, and then walking down the street. The urge to walk up to random people and say “well met” and engage in a conversation about mudcrabs is almost too tempting to resist.

    Also, I remember when I was dong my military service (like, for real, not tutorials in a videogame), when on leave I kept looking at people’s collars and chests to see what rank they were and whether or not I needed to salute them.
    so it’s not just videogames or computer activities, it’s any kind of repetitive behaviour you get used to.

    • GibletHead2000 says:

      Actually, the latter is somewhat debilitating as it leads to having to stop and examine every weed you pass by in case it might be nirnroot.

    • spanner says:

      Especially dangerous when you live in a country where people don’t drive on the right (wrong) side of the road.

    • Oozo says:

      I think there actually was a study proving that people have a short-term tendency to drive more aggressively after extended sessions of playing certain racing games, especially with steering wheel etc. (Now, I know by fact that it was mentioned in a report in German game magazine GameStar, with all the relevant details but, sure enough, I do not remember facts or details – take that, science reporting!)

      Oh, but I remember thinking that balconies on first or even second floors looked really not that high up, thinking that it should be possible to jump up there, after a long session of Jedi Academy. Which is only remarkable because it was not actually me who was playing, but a friend, with me just watching, which proves John’s point about it not being specific to video games.

    • duel says:

      I for one have never confuzzled driving in GTA with driving in a real car about town.

      Besides, the controls are completely different.

    • John Brindle says:

      It’s certainly not just videogames. I went through a period of being a high school chess nerd and would fall asleep to the hellish, perpetual swish of felt-bottomed pieces over a polished board. Their patterns of aggression and misdirection would occupy my brain until I switched off. Any systematic action that you spend a lot of time on will end up leaving its marks in your head.

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      I went to put the marmite in the fridge the other day. My tendency to use perishable goods caused me to hallucinate apparently.

      Edit: i know that psychologically speaking this isn’t quite the same phenomenon. I’m just being silly.

  9. GibletHead2000 says:

    What I like from this article is that I now have a name (GTP) for the effect when I find myself examining nearby surfaces to decide if they are portal-accepting, after a long Portal session — or reaching for an imaginary spacebar when I need to make any kind of decision after a long session on Baldur’s Gate.

    I think the most dangerous manifestation of this effect that I’ve experienced is after a very long GTA3 session finding myself with an urge to just drive onto the other side of the road past all the cars waiting at the red traffic light, so I could get to town quicker. Note: Urge was experienced, smirked at, and then dismissed, because I understood that I wasn’t actually playing a game.

    • Grinnbarr says:

      I remember once after a week or so playing Assassin’s Creed, I went to my girlfriend’s house but she wouldn’t answer the door cos her music was too loud to hear the bell. I then planned a route to an open window on the second floor by climbing on a plant pot, onto the porch and along a ledge to the window. However, when I got on the pot it fell over and spilled dirt everywhere, so I gave up and called her mobile. Probably the most intense moment I’ve experienced of GTP.
      And of course, one new year’s eve I tried to use Z to zoom in case there were headcrab zombies.
      Shit, lock me up now!

    • Wisq says:

      After a marathon session of Disgaea, I stopped for a moment and realised I needed to use the washroom rather urgently. (One of those things that the rush of gameplay can make you not notice for a while.)

      By this time, I was seeing my apartment in terms of square Disgaea tiles. I was (quite seriously) concerned that because of the stupid couch being in the way, I wouldn’t have enough movement points to make it to the washroom in a single turn.

      Of course, then I murdered everyone as gamers do shook my head, laughed, and walked (quickly) to go do my business.

  10. Bhazor says:

    There have been two games that have twisted my view of the world. Thief and Just Cause 2.
    Thief which made me think I was invisible if I crouched in a shadow, I wasn’t. As my sister told me.
    With her fists.

    Just Cause 2 still affects me. Everytime I’m out walking I keep looking for things to grapple off for a speed boost.

    Clearly I’m a danger to society.

    • John Walker says:

      If I ever see a large container or tower that has red markings, I feel absolutely compelled to destroy it.

      I think the rather crucial fact here is that I then don’t.

    • BooleanBob says:

      So reads the last comment John ever made before being sent down on terrorism charges.

    • Gusj says:

      Luckily there weren’t any rocket launchers around.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Given his fondness for grappling hooks, the plod probably came off pretty badly regardless..

      (The ‘underworld’ of disingenuous science reporters and study authors, natch)

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Funny, whenever I see red markings on a tower, I feel compelled to run at them and jump from the tower on the red markings. I trust this instinct so much, I don’t even bother to check what’s on the other side of the jump first.

  11. MiniMatt says:

    Superman made me think I could fly down the stairs, and Zorro made me think I could attack my brother with a sword.

    As it turns out, only one of those things transpired to be untrue.

  12. LionsPhil says:

    One 15-year-old named Simon

    Whoa whoa whoa. Tell me this is just bad writing, because if they’re gratuitiously revealing personally-identifiable information on minors this is a ethics blunder. There is absolutely no reason these participants shouldn’t be numbered or otherwise anonymised and any ethics review board worth their salt would call them up on that while getting approval for the work.

    • Vexing Vision says:

      But how else should we make fun of such outlandish names? What kind of name is “Simon”, anyway?

    • John Walker says:

      They’re pseudonyms.

    • MiniMatt says:

      That’s a darn good point, sure first name alone isn’t much (and who’s to say it’s real) but as you state, you’d obliterate personal information at the data collection stage, not try to edit it out at the reporting stage.

      edit: oh well, if that’s stated in the paper then fair enough – sorry, not personally fussed enough to stump up to get through the paywall before I spout baseless accusations of professional misconduct :o)

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      Simon is a perfectly normal name by the way. All biblical and stuff, and quite common in Sweden.

  13. Jarenth says:

    Media and science misrepresenting video games? I’m sad to say that I’m not entirely shocked.

    We should probably build some more Laboratories and Universities, really get the Science rolling, and this kind of oddness can be relegated to the past.

  14. -Norbert- says:

    I am a gamer and I’m loosing my grasp on reality. Because I cannot believe that such an artice can exist in a real newspaper in the real world.

    Or at least that’s what I thought the first two or three times such bullshit got printed. By new I got used to it and either ignore it or am amused by it.

  15. arienette says:

    Teenagers pissing about and the complete loss of ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality are very easy things to confuse.

    In other news, after playing DXHR I’ve been imagining arm swords. :D

  16. MuscleHorse says:

    When I was really into Thief 2 I would regularly be found in stately manors surrounded by knocked out members of the public, a bag full of sticks cellotaped to bottles of mineral water whilst ballancing a mood ring on my nose.

  17. Inigo says:

    Terms like “intrusive thoughts” – a condition associated with anxiety disorders – are used astonishingly inappropriately here, again without evidence.

    VIDEOGAME HALLUCINATION FINDINGS “ASTONISHING”, ADMITS GAMES JOURNALIST

    • KillahMate says:

      COMMENTS SECTION FILLED WITH GAMERS ADMITTING IT HAPPENS TO THEM AS WELL

    • diamondmx says:

      The Sun:
      Entire gaming website arrested for conspiracy to commit serial killings in rage following shocking news story. Oh, you want some facts…? Look at these breasts.

  18. spanner says:

    This just in, people who have been taught to recognise patterns will recognise patterns.

  19. Teddy Leach says:

    No-one go to read the article there; they’ll just get revenue from this.

  20. FelAdahn says:

    This is a really good article. I question the experimental method used for the experiment by.. that place that did it. Er, yeah.

    The sample size was too small and they should’ve approached it from a more psychological standpoint. And the idea of GTP has surely existed in other media beforehand; movies and books, Comics, etcetra?

    Plus, this kind of experiment should be conducted by people knowledgeable in both the games industry and psychological areas of perception. For example; the idea that someones finger twitched when they dropped a sandwich linked to a video game is more likely due to muscle reflex memory than actual linked to a video game. It’s just percieved as a video game as that was potentially the dominant thingey, no?

    Great article, though.

    • Shuck says:

      All you have to do is look at the “weasel words” used by the author to realize how shaky it is. For example: “perhaps in some cases.”

      Let me translate:

      “In some cases” = we have evidence that this occurs, albeit not very often
      “Perhaps” = we believe this occurs, though there is no convincing evidence as of yet
      “Perhaps in some cases” = we like to think this occurs, but all the evidence so far indicates it doesn’t

  21. Syra says:

    I lol’d

    And then I opened a portal to my kitchen and got a pizza.

  22. Tony M says:

    Metro should have stood outside theaters when The Matrix was showing. They would have witnessed “an epidemic of people seemingly unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality”.

    Still it could be worse. We pen-and-paper roleplayers were accused of being Satan worshipers on less “evidence” than this study. We were also accused of being unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality, and its much easier to get nutty sounding soundbite from a roleplayer.

    • T4u3rs says:

      When I just started playing pen-and-paper RPGs, a long time ago, three kids killed an old man and said that they were roleplaying. The media shitstorm was inmense and my parents were really worried about that. I remember RPG stores started to distribute papers explaining what RPGs were, because at that time, those games were unkown to a lot of people here.

  23. ScarthCaroth says:

    So say “I want to shoot people from other religions does that make a me a gamer to?” Answer: “No it makes you a religious whack job”
    Seriously all those “study’s” on why gaming is bad and what bad influence they make on today’s generation of kids.
    Personaly I get more agitated by all those commercials with stupid jingles and even more anoyingly bad acting gets me more on the edge then putting a bullet to someone’s brain in a game which of course ISN’T REAL and doesn’t mean I would do such things IRL.

    Just my 2 cents also … great article

  24. machinaexdeus says:

    Thinking with portals, that’s the one that really got me, could never find enough flat white walls and I’m fairly certain Crown white emulsion contains no moon dust.

  25. Torgan says:

    After playing Solitaire on my computer for an hour I then went and got out a pack of cards and played it in real life. Please send help.

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      After playing Minesweeper, i endeavoured not to step on any real mines. It’s a sickness.

  26. Milky1985 says:

    I don’t think anyone would deny that we think of gaming things with reguards to real life siutations sometimes, its the same with any entertainment medium. I think a gravity gun combined with a back to the future hoverbaord would be a fun combination!

    But seriously I can’t be the only one who has thought about taking THAT co-worker after a particuly bad day (everyone has a co-worker like this, and if you do not have a co-worker of this type ……then its you), attaching them to the bottom of a helicopter with grappling hooks just cause 2 style then using them as a wrecking ball on anything nearby, preferably something pointy.

    • Milky1985 says:

      The point is i wouldn’t ever do this and know it will never happen, as much as I would like it too, and i think 99.9% of pepel know this.

      The ones that DON’T have other issues anyway and it wouldn’t be games casuing it, they would be a trigger as much as books and films and radio would be

      Now if you’ll excuse me, i have a helicopter to hire

    • ScarthCaroth says:

      I know the feeling … but as mentioned in the arcticle. Most media coverage is awefully one-side

  27. Tinus says:

    Thanks for doing this, John. These type stories have the tendency to make me physically ill*, so I really appreciate you taking the time to subject them to proper scrutiny.

    * Heh, reading their virtual vomit makes me want to vomit in real life.

  28. Kollega says:

    It’s all nice to expose the filthy lies of yellow press compared to which Daily Bugle looks credible and bash at them with proper journalism – but i personally wouldn’t do that, for i am too lazy. Instead, i would just outlast them and hope all the old executives die out and get replaced with the newer ones, ones who will find some other thing to bash on.

    As for seeing the places and opportunities to use in-game skills (which, however, immediately prompted the reaction of “Awwww, i’m in the real life, i can’t do that…”), only one game got me in this mindset: Just Cause 2. Truly, the amount of points you can grapple to in order to get a speed boost is more than one would imagine.

  29. Colthor says:

    Real life intrudes on my games all the time, so I suppose it’s only fair it goes both ways.

    Besides, it’s easy to tell the difference between reality and fantasy: the rubbish bits are real.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Also real-life is the one with Roguelike savegame rules, and nobody’s worked out how to save-scum yet.

  30. Hodge says:

    Spot-on as always, John.

  31. Maldomel says:

    “playing more than ten hours of games a week (an epic hour and 25 minutes a day).”

    Not to brag about it, but I usually play more than ten hours a day. At least that’s what I think I’m doing, cause I clearly don’t know if that is real playtime anymore.

    Oh well, yet another useless and foul study. Unfortunately, that’s the reason why non-gamers sees us as freaks and weirdos.

  32. nubbuka says:

    Every time that I encounter a numpad or a calculator I am obligated to type in 7355608 and then yelling in a deep voice “The bomb has been defused” followed by “Counter-terrorists win”.

    I don’t know what about you guys, but runescape dancing in RL is awesome… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0mflFq97io

  33. Malibu Stacey says:

    I guess no one ever wanted to fly & shoot lasers from their eyes after watching Superman or pretended to force-choke someone & made “swooshing” noises while waving a ruler or similar implement around after watching the original Star Wars trilogy movies right?

    • ManorMoose says:

      I regularly open my local B&Q doors with the force. I have yet to master force lightning.

  34. iGark says:

    Now I want a gravity gun to get stuff from my fridge.

  35. Dozer says:

    Forget vidjagames. For a truly harrowing experience, try travelling on the bus I was driving after I’d spent a full day watching Formula 1.

    I remember reading a novel after playing Age of Empires II and visualising the plot through the interface of the game engine, back when I was small.

  36. overflow says:

    im am certain that photo in the main post is Frankfurt in Germany.. As for the study.. but i thought 42 was the ultimate answer of everything so it should be correct.

    http://maps.google.de/maps?hl=en&ll=50.106829,8.665778&spn=0.00154,0.004117&sll=50.107289,8.667204&sspn=0.003096,0.008234&vpsrc=6&t=m&z=19&layer=c&cbll=50.106829,8.665778&panoid=Ol6GFVPHVC8-NsbHEF7SVg&cbp=12,74.37,,0,-0.94

    • MrEvilGuy says:

      And, interestingly enough, Frankfurt University is associated with the Frankfurt school of thought and critical theory, paving the way to… oh forget it.

  37. AbyssUK says:

    Sadly I wish this was the worst semi-scientific paper I’ve ever read… seriously if somebody showed me the shite science that goes on before I went to uni I would have never have bothered and done something easy like become an engineer :P

  38. LennyLeonardo says:

    I don’t know about this GTP stuff. I mean, aren’t works of art supposed to influence your life, and vice versa?

    Still, I remember when I got my TrackIR (what a day) and for about a week all my real life head movements were tiny and I got a stiff neck. GAMES ARE EVIL.

  39. Auron says:

    Rock, Paper, Shotgun
    Peer-reviewing since 1873

    Well done :)

  40. KingCathcart says:

    Look at Daily Mail.
    Pick up Daily Mail.
    Examine Daily Mail.
    Take Daily Mail.
    Go east.
    Go west.
    Look down.
    ?!?!?!!

  41. Spinoza says:

    From the samples which i read ,having nothing better to do, down on ketamine on the Piccadilly Line, I can testify that Metro had definitely problem with separating fantasy (read fear mongering) from reality.
    Avoiding at all cost now.

  42. CMaster says:

    Yeah, GTP is something I get plenty.
    I don’t actually “see” the health bars or whatever – you just imagine what they might be.
    One of the experiences I remember most strongly, was wanting to glance at the corner of my vision to check I was fully buffed before leaving the house. Didn’t want to get ganked. Realised very abruptly “wait, what?”

  43. JFS says:

    I always felt something was fishy with Nicholas Cage.

  44. jaheira says:

    I remember playing chess for ages and then walking diagonally across the kitchen tiles like a bishop.
    (I mean a chess bishop, not a real bishop (they just walk normally (so far as I know)))

    • Mollusc Infestation says:

      That’s unless the bishop in question plays a lot of chess and gets game transfer phenomenon.

  45. MiniMatt says:

    Bet T.J. McCormack (“Parent”) is feeling mighty vindicated right now. See, he’s now backed up by the powers of SCIENCE.

    Though, if I may hazard a guess at TJ’s persuasions, obviously only science that reinforces one’s own beliefs is real science. All that fluff about climate change and dinosaurs is just the junk science mewings of the liberal socialist media.

    Anyway, best way to wee in the cheerios of any researcher from Nottm Trent is to say “oh, you mean Trent Polytechnic?”

  46. mechchimp says:

    Having worked on a computer for years I wish I had a CTRL+Z to push in everyday life.
    Blame those filthy machines!

    • MrXswift says:

      After editing something on the pc for a few hours, i had to write an essay.
      I made a mistake and instead of using the ink eraser i tried to press ctrl-z.
      Made me laugh :D

    • Acorino says:

      Yeah, I also encounter this effect sometimes, had this just recently.
      I was so disappointed that I couldn’t press STRG+Z. Made things much more complicated… ;)

      I wonder how many secretaries know the same effect…

  47. Preciousgollum says:

    Games construction and, indeed, playing is a much more logical process than David Cameron, now, there’s somebody who walks around in a fantasy-land, unaware of the reality of modern Britain. Mr Cameron can be told a fact and yet still conjures a psyhological defense which manifests itself externally as a vibration of the vocal chords that creates a sequence of sounds, often documented as “I don’t accept this”. Clearly, more study is required in order to understand the subject documented above.

    I can give you rudimentary psychological knowledge about learning processes, many of these have just been learned by journalists who, by the nature of the skill-set, are very good at using embellishment, but I, like many others, fail to fully comprehend the reality of the political processes (basically, people) that govern our lives through ‘disassociative taxation’ (creating the illusion of knowledge about the people who occupy a tax-bracked and using stereotypical generalisations) and the skilled use of ‘political inferral’ on outside subjects: making up a phrase that has no definition or immediate context and then allowing people to formulate their own meanings.

    Am people generally having trouble understanding the real world? Not really, but they just don’t like it for some of the reasons outlined above – a cognitive process known as sarcasm triggered by root-elements of neurosis in the human-psyche.

    Now, if you will excuse me, I will have to tell those people who are too busy with parkour to stop as they are losing their grip on reality and endangering themselves (by having never played video games) because I saw it on Mirror’s Edge.

    I’d laugh my arse off if the person who dreams of a gravity-gun actually develops one in the future one or the other person who dreams of a real-life friend finder invents one, both people would become exeedingly wealthy by utilising imagination, an abundant and cost-effective human resource.

  48. nephilim83 says:

    Who needs real life anyway? The story sucks, the characters are lame, you have to constantly grind for money, and it just drags on and on and on…

    • JFS says:

      The graphics are great, though.

    • MiniMatt says:

      The first few levels are fun but (SPOILER ALERT) the ending sucks.

      And if you didn’t pick the right religion at character creation there’s not even any replay feature.

    • Preciousgollum says:

      Short-sighted hardware renders L1FE PROGRAM in Sub-HD. Glasses can be applied to the Auditory Hardware expansion-slot to rectify this error.

      Laser-eye surgery (really!) advertises its service as a Full-HD tune-up for your eyes. Gamification!

    • Koozer says:

      The conversation trees are much bigger, but the interface is rubbish – you have to guess like an old text adventure. There are too many dead-ends in the storyline too, it’s too hard to go back and finish the sidequests.

  49. Freud says:

    This is a windmill not worth fighting. Attacks on youth culture are as old as youth culture and will happen long after we are dead.

    The only thing that will happen is that in the same way as more and more people who grew up with rock music found it that the notion of rock music being harmful being absurd, the same way more and more people that have and will grow up with games realize that these notions are absurd.

    And no, Law limiting games in Germany and Australia aren’t driven by these stories in the media.

  50. apocraphyn says:

    The first picture of this article is a photo of an area just outside of Frankfurt’s central train station, featuring a Worgen standing in the middle of the tram-lines. Personally, I think this was a rather bad choice of picture for such an article, for I have seen this particular Worgen various times around town. Believe he goes by the name of “Wulf”, or somesuch. Seems like a bit of a pleasant guy, if not a little delusional.

    Pray tell, does this image have anything to do with the inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality, or is this just another case of false advertisement and misinformation?

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Does he constantly mention Guild Wars 2 and/or ArenaNet in conversations which have absolutely no connection to either in real life too or is that just when he posts here?