In a world increasingly mediated by technology, a fascinating intersection has arisen between “lucid dreaming and video games.” This unique intersection has given birth to an intriguing phenomenon known as video game dreams.
Journey to Restful Sleep and Revealing Dreams!
These dreams are characterized by scenarios, characters, or environments influenced by a gamer’s experiences within the virtual world of video games. They range from simple incorporations of video game imagery into dream landscapes to complex narratives where dreamers engage in activities mirroring their gaming experiences.
Video games can influence players’ dreams, leading to experiences such as dreaming in the ‘first-person perspective’ or having dreams that mirror the themes of their favorite game.
Studying video game dreams can provide valuable insights into the potential uses of video games in fostering abilities like lucid dreaming, where one can control and direct their dream narrative.
Lucid dreaming is a remarkable state of sleep where dreamers know they’re dreaming and can exert control over their dreams. This state typically occurs during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, when most vivid dreaming occurs.
This ability can lead to unique experiences, from fantastical adventures to facing and overcoming personal fears.
Playing video games, with their immersive and control-centric design, can enhance a player’s capacity to have lucid dreams.
Moreover, lucid dreaming can impact the gaming experience itself. In lucid dreams, gamers can practice gaming strategies or rehearse different scenarios, directly affecting their gaming performance.
Lucid dreaming skills and concepts could enhance the game design, creating more engaging and emotional gameplay.
The Science Behind Dreams
Sleep is divided into various stages, each serving a unique role in maintaining physical and mental health. There are two main categories of sleep: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement).
NREM sleep has three stages: N1, N2, and N3. N1 is light sleep, N2 is deeper, and N3 is the deepest stage of physical restoration.
Following NREM sleep, REM sleep takes place. This stage is when most of our vivid dreaming happens. The brain is highly active during REM, resembling wakefulness, while the body experiences temporary paralysis, presumably to prevent us from acting out our dreams.
These stages form a cycle that repeats several times throughout the night, with REM sleep becoming longer and more frequent towards the morning.
The Function of Dreams
While the exact purpose of dreams is still a topic of scientific debate, there are several theories. Some believe dreams act as psychotherapy, allowing the unconscious mind to process and make sense of emotions and experiences from the day.
Others suggest dreams play a crucial role in memory consolidation, helping us retain important information and discard the irrelevant.
The Impact of Video Games on Dreams
Research (see below) has indicated that gaming can influence our dreams in various ways. As interactive media, video games can impact the content of dreams, making them more bizarre or action-packed.
Gamers, especially those involved in immersive gaming experiences like role-playing games, often report dreams where they are still in the game environment or have game-like qualities. This phenomenon is known as the Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP), where elements of video games transfer to the real world, in this case, dreams.
Gamers have a higher chance of having lucid dreams, where they can control and interact with the dream due to their gaming experiences.
However, gaming before bedtime can harm sleep quality, disrupt normal sleep patterns, and cause sleep loss.
Having examined how gaming influences dreams, let’s now explore the direct relationship between specific video games and the nature of the dreams they induce.
The Relationship Between Video Games and Dreams
The genre and gameplay of a video game can significantly influence the nature of the dreams a gamer may experience. For instance, those who play action-adventure or first-person shooter games, known for their intense and fast-paced gameplay, often report dreams of similar elements of action, conflict, and problem-solving.
Role-playing games (RPGs), where players deeply engage with their character and the game world, can result in dreams where the dreamer assumes the role of their in-game character or is actively engaged in the game world.
Puzzle or strategy games, which require critical thinking and planning, might stimulate dreams with complex scenarios or puzzles to solve.
The Tendency of Gamers to Control Their Dreams
Researchers suggest gamers can often control their dreams due to their habitual engagement with interactive, immersive environments.
Playing video games can enhance skills that may improve the ability to navigate and control dreams.
The Role of Video Games in Lucid Dreaming
Video games may enhance lucidity in dreams because of their interactive and immersive nature.
The constant engagement with virtual worlds that can be controlled and manipulated might train the brain for similar control during dreams, thus leading to lucid dreaming.
The Psychological Effects of Video Game Dreams
Dreams influenced by video games can have various psychological effects. They can provide a creative outlet, an extension of the game world, or even serve therapeutic purposes by offering a safe space to confront fears or stress.
However, intense game dreams can cause psychological issues and sleep problems.
Theories on Why Video Games are Incorporated into Dreams
One theory is the ‘continuity hypothesis,’ suggesting that our waking experiences, including video gaming, continue to influence our dreams.
Research has found a positive correlation between video gaming and lucid dream frequency. In a study, frequent gamers reported a higher incidence of lucid dreams than non-gamers. This suggests that the mental skills honed by playing video games, such as spatial awareness, problem-solving, and the ability to differentiate between virtual and physical reality, may transfer into the dream state, facilitating lucid dreaming.
Techniques for Using Video Games to Induce Lucid Dreaming
- Reality Checks: Frequently performing reality checks during gameplay can carry over into dreams. These checks could involve looking at a digital clock or reading text in the game, as these elements often appear distorted or change suddenly in dreams.
- Immersive Gaming: Spending more time in immersive gaming environments could help with dream lucidity. The more involved a person is with a virtual world, the more likely they will carry that immersive experience into their dreams.
- Visualization: Before sleep, gamers can visualize themselves in the game world, recalling their interactions and experiences in the game. This can prime their minds for dreaming about the game, increasing the likelihood of lucidity.
- Game-Related Mnemonic Induction: Gamers can adapt the Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD) technique to involve game-related prompts. For example, as they fall asleep, they can tell themselves, “The next time I’m in the game world, I will realize I’m dreaming.”
It is worth noting that while video games have the potential to induce lucid dreams, their impact can vary from person to person.
How to Induce Video Game Dreams
Tips and Techniques for Inducing Video Game Dreams
- Choose Immersive Games: Pick games that demand active engagement, where you feel part of the story or the character. The more engaged you are with the game, the higher the chances it’ll enter your dreams.
- Play Before Bedtime: Although one should avoid screen exposure close to bedtime due to blue light, if you want to have video game-related dreams, playing closer to your bedtime can help, as the fresh memory of the game might carry over into your dreams.
- Visualize: Before sleeping, close your eyes and visualize yourself inside the game. Think about the game’s environment, the quests, and your character’s actions.
- Maintain a Dream Journal: Writing down your dreams as soon as you wake up can improve your dream recall. As always, when writing a dream journal, focus on why you did not realize you are dreaming. This practice helps you become more conscious about your dreams, enhancing your chances of lucid dreaming.
Potential Risks and Precautions to Take When Inducing Video Game Dreams
While inducing video game dreams can be an exciting experience, it’s also important to be aware of the potential risks and take precautions.
- Disrupted Sleep: As discussed, playing video games before bedtime can delay sleep onset and disrupt sleep cycles. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure you still get adequate rest.
- Nightmare Potential: If you’re playing games with disturbing themes, these elements might carry over into your dreams and cause nightmares.
Remember, while video games can be used to influence dreams and induce lucidity, they should not be the only method employed.
Other techniques, such as meditation, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, and stress management, are crucial in improving dream recall and lucid dreaming abilities.
The Psychological Impact of Video Game Dreams
Video game dreams can have both positive and negative impacts on mental health.
Gaming-induced dreams can be enjoyable, potentially boost problem-solving skills, and offer an escape from reality. However, if the games have violent or disturbing content, they can cause anxiety, and nightmares, and disrupt sleep.
Excessive gaming can also promote addictive behaviors, resulting in various mental health issues such as stress, social isolation, and reduced physical activity.
The Potential Therapeutic Benefits of Video Game Dreams
In a therapeutic context, video game dreams can provide insights into a person’s mental state, fears, desires, and coping mechanisms. This information can be useful in therapy for discussing and addressing various issues.
For example, a dream where a person is continuously battling and overcoming foes in a game might symbolize their struggle with real-life problems or conflicts.
How Video Game Dreams Can Be Used in Therapy
Video game dreams can be used in therapy for narrative therapy or dream analysis. Through discussing these dreams, therapists can help individuals better understand their subconscious mind and address underlying issues.
Moreover, therapists can utilize the principles of video game design and apply them to therapeutic interventions. For instance, the concept of “gamification” — the application of game-design elements in non-game contexts — can be used to make therapy more engaging and motivating for individuals, especially for younger clients who are familiar with and enjoy video games.
Lastly, for individuals capable of lucid dreaming, therapists can guide them on using lucid dreaming techniques to confront their fears or work through traumatic experiences in a safe, controlled environment. This form of therapy, dream rehearsal therapy, can be particularly effective for conditions like PTSD and chronic nightmares.
In the Research section of this article, we delve into a compelling assortment of scholarly investigations that probe the intricate relationship between video games and dreams. Unfolding over a span of a decade, this collection of research presents a nuanced exploration of how video gaming influences various aspects of our consciousness, with a special focus on dreams and their lucidity.
The research encapsulates numerous intriguing dimensions, encompassing the impacts of video game play on creativity, consciousness, persistence, and problem-solving abilities. A prevalent and fascinating thread throughout these studies is video games’ dynamic influence on our dreaming patterns. This manifests most notably in the frequency of lucid dreaming – a state where the dreamer is aware they are dreaming and may even have control over their dream experiences.
Another key subject examined is the Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP), which illuminates the subtle ways our cognitive and perceptual experiences from gaming intrude into our everyday lives, shaping our thoughts, sensory perceptions, and feelings of self-agency. The relationship between different video game genres and their effect on the lucidity of dreams is also scrutinized, providing potential avenues for therapeutic interventions.
The research included in this section offers valuable insights into understanding the impact of video games on the human psyche and the exciting potential for harnessing these virtual environments to influence and understand our dream states better. By bridging the gap between our virtual experiences and dreamworld, these studies open a rich field for further investigation and practical application.
Video game play and lucid dreams: Implications for the development of consciousness (2006)
A 2006 study examines the link between video gaming and dreams, showing that frequent gamers are likelier to have lucid dreams, where they are aware and can often control aspects of the dream. The work of Jayne Gackenbach plays a significant role in this area, pointing to a connection between the control required in video gaming and similar experiences in dreams. Video game elements have been found in dream reports, ranging from simple games like Tetris to more immersive ones like World of Warcraft.
It’s suggested that immersion in video games can trigger lucid dreaming, indicating a link between waking activities and dream content. Video games may also serve as a protective mechanism against nightmares. However, the research also points out potential downsides, such as the negative impact of heavy television and video game consumption on children’s sleep, learning, and memory. Still, these frequent gamers are likely to have lucid dreams, suggesting increased awareness and control in their dreams. Thus, our video game habits appear to shape our dream experiences significantly.
Video game play: Effects on nighttime dreams (2007)
A 2007 study by Jayne Gackenbach, Ian Matty, and Bena Kuruvilla explored the impact of video gaming on dreams. They collected and analyzed 56 dreams from 27 hardcore gamers using semi-structured interviews. The dreams were evaluated using Hall and VandeCastle’s standard dream content analysis system, and another analysis focused on lucid/control dreaming.
The findings revealed that gamers often dreamt about gaming, with over half of the dreams containing clear references to video games. The study also explored the emotional context of gaming in dreams, which produced mixed results. Although gamers exhibited more self-negativity in their dreams, other signs of positive emotional environments were also evident.
While the researchers considered whether intense gaming might generate distorted worldviews in dreams, the data suggested that, while dreams do mirror gameplay, they don’t significantly skew gamers’ emotional lives within their dreams.
The study offers valuable insights into how activities such as video gaming can influence dreams, thereby affecting our understanding of consciousness and emotional regulation. It augments other research on the psychological and emotional implications of video gaming.
Video Game Play Effects on Dreams: Self-Evaluation and Content Analysis (2008)
A 2008 study by Jayne Gackenbach and Beena Kuruvilla explored the impact of video gaming on dreams. Using dreams from college undergraduates, they analyzed the content based on the participants’ video game usage, both recent and historical.
The analysis found a link between general electronic media use, especially video gaming, and changes in dream content. This correlation manifested across different dream content analysis systems, including threat simulation, bizarreness, lucidity/control, war content, and general dream content.
The study also noted a higher level of sexuality in gamers’ dreams, likely influenced by video games. Variations in dream content regarding good fortune and misfortune were also observed, possibly reflecting gaming experiences. The article highlighted the potential of further research on game-dream content matching and the continuity versus discontinuity hypotheses.
The study reaffirmed the complex relationship between video gaming and dreaming, citing other studies that found connections between game playing and dream bizarreness, lucidity, and nightmare protection.
The effects of video game playing on attention, memory, and executive control (2008)
A 2008 study examines the influence of video gaming on cognitive abilities. The study had non-gamers play different genres of video games for over 20 hours and compared their abilities to expert gamers.
Results showed that expert gamers outperformed non-gamers in tasks like object tracking, visual short-term memory, task-switching, and mental rotation. However, non-gamers did not show significant improvement in most cognitive tasks after extensive video game practice, except for some progress in mental rotation performance. This suggests that differences between expert gamers and non-gamers could be due to more extended gaming experience or pre-existing abilities that lead to a self-selection effect.
Overall, the study indicates that while expert gamers show improved cognitive skills, extensive gaming does not significantly enhance non-gamers’ performance in these cognitive tasks.
The Relationship Between Video Game Play and Threat Simulation Dreams (2008)
A 2008 study explores the evolutionary theory of dreaming in the context of video gaming. They hypothesized that high-end gamers would experience fewer threat simulation dreams due to frequent threat resolution during gameplay.
Participants reported a recent dream and completed surveys on gaming history, media use, and dream experiences. The results supported the hypothesis, showing that individuals with a gameplay history experienced less severe threats in their dreams. Moreover, high-end gamers displayed more bizarre dreams in two of three categories, suggesting a potential link between immersive media experiences like gaming and dream nature.
Overall, the research indicates that video gaming might influence dream experiences, possibly reducing threat simulation severity and increasing dream bizarreness. This contributes to understanding how media consumption, especially video gaming, can impact different states of consciousness.
Video Game Play and Consciousness Development: A Replication and Extension (2009)
A 2009 article explores the relationship between video game play and dream patterns, presenting various key findings:
- Regular video game players often have clearer, lucid dreams where they know they’re dreaming and can sometimes control dream elements.
- Gamers frequently report game-related dreams and situations where they have control. They experience fewer nightmares, possibly due to extensive exposure to virtual environments in games.
- High-frequency gamers exhibit higher rates of lucid dreaming than low-frequency gamers or non-gamers.
- Researchers suggest that video game play could contribute to cognitive training, improving skills such as spatial awareness, attention focus, and sensorimotor integration, making dream experiences more controllable.
- The connection between video game play and lucid dreaming is observed across various cultures, particularly where meditative practices and video games are popular.
- Some studies could not replicate the association between gaming, dream bizarreness, and lucidity, suggesting the need for further research.
- The immersive nature of video games and conscious development linked with gaming experiences contribute to lucid dreaming among gamers, akin to a ‘flow’ state induced through video game play.
While the relationship between gaming and dreams is evolving, more research is needed to understand the observed phenomena definitively.
Electronic Media and Lucid-Control Dreams: Morning After Reports (2009)
A 2009 study discusses multiple studies on the connection between video gaming, sleep, and lucid dreaming. Key points include:
- Video game players tend to experience lucid dreams more frequently, possibly due to the immersive environments in games training the brain for lucidity during sleep.
- The relationship between sleep fragmentation, a type of sleep disruption, and lucid dreaming is discussed. Methods like intentional sleep interruptions for inducing lucid dreams are mentioned, with speculation about failed lucidity attempts leading to a quick return to REM sleep.
- Frequent gamers and lucid dreamers often possess an internal locus of control, suggesting they believe they can control their lives rather than being directed by external forces.
- Several publications delve into topics like dream bizarreness among gamers, the cognitive structure related to the lucid features of gamers’ dreams, and the relationship between video game play and threat simulation dreams.
Overall, these studies broadly support that video game playing impacts dreaming patterns, specifically increasing lucidity and altering dream content, adding to the known cognitive effects of video gaming, such as improvements in problem-solving and spatial skills.
Video Game Play and Dream Bizarreness (2009)
A 2009 research literature compilation discusses the connection between video game play and dream experiences. The main points include:
- High-end gamers are found to have more bizarre dreams, which could be attributed to their extensive semantic networks, formed due to complex gaming experiences.
- Video game play is linked with increased dream control and lucidity, possibly because the immersive nature of video games acts as training for lucid dreaming.
- Some studies propose that playing video games could provide “nightmare protection”, particularly among military gamers, but more research is needed to validate this theory.
- The “game transfer phenomena” concept is discussed, suggesting elements of video games can be integrated into dreams, indicating continuity between gaming and dream experiences.
- With their intricate narratives and decision-making scenarios, video game environments could facilitate greater consciousness during dreaming.
In conclusion, video game play seems to influence dream experiences, affecting dream control, and bizarreness, and potentially offering protection from nightmares. However, this is a burgeoning field, and more research is required to comprehend the nuanced relationship between gaming and dreams fully.
Dreams and Video Game Play (2011)
A 2011 article explores the relationship between video game play and dream experiences, focusing on lucid/control dreams, bizarre dreams, and nightmares.
- Lucid/Control Dreams: It’s found that video game players, particularly high-end gamers, have more lucid dreams (where the dreamer is aware they’re dreaming and can often control the dream’s events) than non-gamers or low-end gamers. This could indicate improved metacognition in dreams for gamers.
- Bizarre Dreams: Gamers experience higher levels of bizarreness in their dreams. This suggests gamers can improve “novel adaptive responses” according to the Global Workspace theory of consciousness.
- Nightmares: High-end gamers report fewer threat simulations in their dreams compared to low-end gamers, suggesting gaming might provide a protective function against nightmares. However, gamers’ emotional responses to these dreams varied from external perceptions.
The research suggests a correlation between video game play and the activation of larger neuronal assemblies during sleep. But, the specifics and implications of this relationship need more exploration.
In conclusion, video gaming may influence dream experiences, leading to increased lucidity and control, more bizarre elements, and a modified interaction with threat simulation and negative emotions in dreams compared to non-gamers.
Presence in Video Game Play and Nighttime Dreams: An Empirical Inquiry (2011)
A 2011 research article explores the correlation between the sense of presence in video game play and dreams.
In the study, 40 participants were randomly assigned to play a video game under varied conditions of fidelity and interactivity. Post-gaming, subjects’ sense of presence was assessed, and their dreams were evaluated over the following 14 days.
Analysis of 117 dream reports revealed that the sense of presence differed in dreams versus games, with dreams generally eliciting a stronger sense of presence than video games. Additionally, the study found a connection between the sense of presence in dreams and dream aggression, suggesting that the way video games are played might influence the intensity and character of dreams. More research is needed to understand these findings fully.
Video Game Play As Nightmare Protection: A Preliminary Inquiry With Military Gamers (2011)
A 2011 research article explores the influence of video game play on dream experiences, especially concerning violent or fear-inducing games. Key findings include:
- Frequent gamers tend to have fewer nightmares, suggesting a correlation between video game play and resilience to fear in dreams – a concept known as the “threat simulation and protection hypothesis.”
- In a study among Active Duty Service Members and retired service members, frequent gamers showed less threat and war content in their dreams.
- The article discusses the potential therapeutic benefits of gaming, especially for trauma-exposed populations.
- The research also brings up the concept of “lucid dreaming,” a state of dreaming where the individual is aware they are dreaming and may even control the dream content. It also suggests a possible correlation between gaming, executive functions, metacognitions, and the ability to lucid dream.
- The ‘Game Transfer Phenomena’ is mentioned, where elements of video games are incorporated into daydreams, contributing to our understanding of gaming disorder.
In essence, the research suggests that video gaming, particularly involving challenging content, may significantly affect dream experiences and emotional regulation, and potentially influence other cognitive functions.
The New Laboratory of Dreams: Role-playing Games as Resistance (2012)
A 2012 research article by Katherine Angel Cross examines the transformative potential of role-playing games (RPGs) in challenging societal norms, specifically related to gender and race. Cross proposes that RPGs can serve as a “Laboratory of Dreams,” a concept borrowed from feminist science fiction, allowing players to experiment with identity and societal structures in a virtual space. Games like “Eclipse Phase” illustrate this, enabling a fluid process of identity ‘becoming.’ However, Cross warns that these virtual environments can replicate existing societal power structures and prejudices, necessitating a nuanced understanding of their dynamics. She advocates for developing feminist RPGs designed to challenge and transform societal norms.
Video game play and dreams (2012)
A 2012 research study led by Jayne Gackenbach from MacEwan University explores how video game play impacts dream states. The findings suggest that gamers have an increased incidence of lucid dreaming and greater control over their dreams than non-gamers. Emotionally, gamers experience less fear from nightmares, potentially due to their heightened control of dreams. Creatively, gamers’ dreams tend to be more bizarre or unusual. Interestingly, these effects on dreams seem to mirror those from meditation, given both activities require prolonged focused attention. This influence of video games on dreams warrants further investigation, particularly due to the growing popularity of video gaming.
Incorporation of game elements in dreams: Exploratory research into World of Warcraft dreaming (2012)
Eva Murzyn’s research at the University of Glasgow investigates the influence of the video game, World of Warcraft (WoW), on players’ dreams. The study, involving over 900 WoW players and their dream reports, discovered a link between the extent of game engagement and the prevalence of gaming dreams. The dream content analysis identified patterns of game features in dreams relating to form, content, and mechanism, reflecting the players’ game activities preference. Therefore, the study concludes that WoW significantly influences players’ dreams based on their engagement level with the game and related activities, and the elements incorporated in dreams mirror their in-game preferences.
The relationship between video game play, dream bizarreness, and creativity (2012)
A 2012 research article delves into the relationship between action video game play and dream patterns, and its impact on players’ creativity. Some studies suggest video games inhibit creativity by providing ready-made images, while others argue they foster visual creativity. A study showed that 12-year-old online gamers scored higher on Torrance tests (creativity assessments) than their less experienced peers, and adults’ non-verbal creativity also saw a positive impact. However, the article notes that dreams with action game content weren’t commonly reported, suggesting the need for research involving high-end gamers. The relationship between video games, creativity, and dream content thus remains complex and calls for further investigation.
Video game play: Waking and dreaming consciousness (2012)
A 2012 research article by Jayne Gackenbach and others examines how video games influence players’ consciousness, specifically focusing on dreams. Through interviews with 27 college student hardcore gamers, the study found that video game play can affect dream content. Despite similarities between gamers and non-gamers, these differences in dreams hint at a relationship between the waking experience of gaming and dream content. The article argues that while gaming often has negative societal connotations, it has several positive impacts, including on various aspects of consciousness. Prior studies cited in the article also suggest that video games can influence psychological absorption, attention, flow, and even the content of dreams, further supporting the idea of gaming influencing gamers’ consciousness and dreams.
The relationship between video game use and a performance-based measure of persistence (2013)
A 2013 research article delves into the relationship between video gaming and persistence. A novel measure of persistence, the Anagram Persistence Task (ART), was proposed and assessed for validity against self-reported persistence and time spent on video games. The ART, involving both solvable and unsolvable anagrams, showed that individuals who reported more video gaming time were significantly more persistent, spending more time trying to solve unsolvable anagrams. However, no correlation was found between self-reported persistence, time spent on solved trials, or the number of solved trials. While the study identifies a correlation, it doesn’t establish causation between video gaming and increased persistence. The results suggest that ART can serve as a reliable performance-based measure of persistence, and there appears to be a correlation between video gaming and higher levels of persistence. Further research is required to explore the nature of this relationship.
After being challenged by a video game problem, sleep increases the chance to solve it (2014)
A 2014 research article investigates the role of sleep in problem-solving and memory consolidation, specifically in the context of video games. The study found that subjects who took a nap after struggling with a video game problem were almost twice as likely to solve the problem as those who stayed awake. Particularly, all subjects who experienced slow-wave sleep during their nap managed to solve the problem, highlighting the importance of this sleep phase in transferring memory-related information and implementing intentions. However, no significant role of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep was found in this context. Thus, the study indicates that sleep can aid in problem-solving involving logical reasoning, extending its function beyond mere memory consolidation.
The Dream Analog: Psychecology Video Games (2016)
Stephen Schafer’s research article examines the intersection between reality and the virtual world, likening it to dream states in its influence on human perception. The study proposes that virtual realities could be studied using Carl Jung’s dream analysis to understand the unconscious dimensions better. It seeks to use this understanding to engineer media content promoting Earth-sustainability through induced coherent frequencies on correlated electromagnetic scales. The study also stresses the potential of studying the collective unconscious as it projects into the virtual world. Schafer suggests that drama-based video games serve as an interactive analog of dreams, providing a powerful tool for cognitive research and understanding the human psyche’s responses to virtual stimuli.
Chapter 1 – Video Games, Nightmares, and Emotional Processing
(From Emotions, Technology, and Digital Games Emotions and Technology 2016)
An article by Johnathan Bown and Jayne Gackenbach proposes that high-end male gamers may find protection from nightmares through video game play. Drawing on threat simulation theories, the authors argue that violent video games could replace the need for threat rehearsal in dreams by providing a similar virtual environment. The study examines how video games impact dreams and subsequently influence emotional processing and regulation in waking life, observing these effects predominantly in male gamers. Research on students and active-duty soldiers who are gamers supports this nightmare protection hypothesis, suggesting that changes in dream content and emotional processing caused by video games could influence cognitive and emotional well-being.
The relationship between video game use, game genre, and lucid/control dreaming (2017)
This article investigates the influence of video game play and game genre on lucid and control dreaming. The study involved 297 students and analyzed the relationship between their game engagement, gaming time, and lucid/control dreaming frequency. Contrary to expectations, more gaming and higher engagement were not directly linked to increased lucid/control dreaming. However, these factors were associated with more frequent integration of game content into dreams, which was linked to increased lucid/control dreaming. Particularly, more time spent playing physically interactive games was associated with more frequent lucid/control dreaming among those who play at least once a week and remember their dreams weekly. The authors suggest further research to explore whether increasing this gameplay could enhance lucid dreaming, potentially providing a therapeutic technique.
Games, Dreams, and Consciousness (2017)
This research chapter explores the connection between video games, player absorption, and consciousness development. The author posits that video games can facilitate a heightened consciousness due to their immersive qualities. She underlines how detailed game environments, interactivity, and narratives contribute to this immersion and the resulting cognitive skills development. Preston also draws parallels between dreams and games, emphasizing potential emotional benefits from gaming. Lastly, the chapter highlights how creators of virtual worlds can enhance consciousness through transpersonal experiences. The full text of the research is not provided, limiting this summary to the abstract and introductory information.
Virtual Worlds, Digital Dreams: Imaginary Spaces of Middle Eastern Video Games (2018)
This article explores the transnational nature of video games, focusing on their cultural, social, and industrial practices in the Middle East. The study reveals that Middle Eastern video games serve as imaginary spaces that encapsulate various intricate and contradicting processes, such as global cultural flows, media policies of nation-states, private entrepreneur visions, and the migration and appropriation of Western game genres and rule systems. It also maps out the dominant trends influencing the Middle Eastern video game industry throughout its first fifteen years. However, it’s worth noting that the provided chunks don’t specifically touch upon the relationship between video games and dreams.
Relationships Between Video Game Play Factors and Frequency of Lucid and Control Dreaming Experiences (2019)
A research article by Marc Sestir, Ming Tai, and Jennifer Peszka investigates the link between video game play and the frequency of lucid and control dreaming. The study validates that overall gameplay and the inclusion of game content in dreams are positively correlated. However, only physically interactive games, not other genres, showed a connection with the frequency of lucid and control dreams. These findings contribute to our understanding of the relationship between virtual environments like video games and dream states, potentially aiding the development of techniques for inducing and therapeutically using lucid and control dreams.
The Effects of Different Genres of Video Games on Lucid Dreaming (2020)
This is a research article that explores the impact of specific game genres on the frequency of lucid dreaming among players. The study involved 50 participants divided into two groups: one group played first-person shooter (FPS) games, and the other played puzzle games. Results showed that FPS players had a higher frequency of lucid dreaming than puzzle game players. The study suggests that video games, especially those offering more player control, may influence lucid dreaming frequency. Despite these findings, the researchers noted limitations such as self-reported survey biases and the time commitment required from participants. They proposed future research to investigate other game genres and the relationship between VR gaming and lucid dreaming, potentially leading to practical applications like using specific game genres to induce lucid dreaming.
Multidimensional assessment of Game Transfer Phenomena: Intrusive cognitions, perceptual distortions, hallucinations and dissociations (2022)
This research article by Angelica B Ortiz de Gortari and Åge Diseth examines the concept of Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP), which are involuntary experiences associated with video gaming, including sensory and cognitive intrusions, and changes in perception and self-agency. The researchers created a new tool, the Game Transfer Phenomena Multidimensional Scale (GTP-MDS), to measure and understand these experiences.
In a study involving 1,301 participants, the researchers found that internal experiences like intrusive thoughts were more common, whereas externalized intrusions like hallucinations were less common. The correlations between GTP dimensions and hours played further validated the instrument. The research also revealed a link between distress, outer intrusions, and dissociations/mix-ups.
This study provides robust support for the validity and reliability of the GTP-MDS in assessing the various aspects of GTP. The findings can contribute to a deeper understanding of the mental and perceptual effects of video gaming, potentially influencing game design and considering the broader impacts of video gaming on mental health.
Summary of Research
Based on the research presented, we have gained a rich understanding of the multi-faceted ways video games intersect with our cognitive processes, particularly in the realm of dreams and consciousness.
Firstly, it’s clear that video games play a significant role in shaping our cognitive abilities. They have been shown to impact creativity, with certain studies revealing that younger and adult gamers score higher on creativity assessments than their less-experienced counterparts. Moreover, video games have been tied to increased persistence, as indicated by the correlation between more game time and greater determination on the Anagram Persistence Task (ART). Video games also appear to influence problem-solving, with sleep after engaging in challenging video games shown to increase the likelihood of problem resolution.
Regarding dreams, there is compelling evidence that video game play influences their content and lucidity. The research found an association between video game play, particularly physically interactive games, and increased lucid and control dreaming experiences. Lucid dreaming is where the dreamer is aware they are dreaming, while control dreaming allows the dreamer to manipulate the dream. Video games, especially those involving high levels of interaction and control, were positively linked to these dream states.
Moreover, the research presents the intriguing concept of the Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP), which explores how gaming experiences bleed into waking life, affecting thoughts, perceptions, and feelings of self-agency. These effects were validated and measured using the new Game Transfer Phenomena Multidimensional Scale (GTP-MDS).
Despite these fascinating findings, many questions remain unanswered. Although we understand that video games impact creativity, the specific mechanisms of this influence are unclear. Similarly, while we know that certain games appear to foster lucidity in dreams, the reasons behind these effects, and why they might be specific to certain game genres, are not yet fully understood.
Furthermore, there is limited knowledge of the broader implications of GTP on mental health, or the precise relationship between video games, emotional processing, and well-being. Also, there’s a need to investigate other game genres and the relationship between virtual reality gaming and lucid dreaming, which could potentially be harnessed for therapeutic interventions.
In summary, while current research has made significant strides in illuminating the complex relationship between video games and dreams, future research is needed to delve deeper into the mechanisms at play and their broader implications for cognitive processes, emotional well-being, and mental health.
As we dim the screen on this exploration of video games and dreams, it’s clear that the vibrant digital landscapes we navigate in our waking hours have profound echoes in the shadowy realms of our sleep. The confluence of the virtual and the unconscious offers a new frontier in understanding human cognition, emotions, and the potential of our minds.
Far from being mere pastime diversions, video games have taken center stage in this groundbreaking dialogue. They are more than their pixels and polygons; they are the architects of our dreams, the guides of our subconscious, and the enhancers of our cognitive capabilities. Like the most intricate dreams, games weave narratives and foster interactivity that pulls us into their universes, blurring the lines between the player and the played, the dreamer and the dream.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising that these digital realities, carefully crafted dreamscapes, can bleed into our nocturnal narratives, fostering lucid dreaming. In this state, the dreamer becomes aware and often gains control of their dream environment. It’s as if video games offer us a ‘rehearsal space,’ training our minds to navigate and influence the ever-mutable dream world with the same agency we exert over our in-game avatars.
And yet, as we unravel the intricacies of this fascinating symbiosis, we realize that we are at the threshold of an immense labyrinth of knowledge. The mechanisms by which video games enhance creativity, increase persistence, or influence our dreams are not fully charted. The effects of Game Transfer Phenomena on mental health, emotional processing, and self-agency are as tantalizing as they are enigmatic. And the potential for therapeutic applications of lucid dreaming, possibly enhanced by video game play, beckons with the allure of unexplored territory.
In this light, we see video games not merely as entertainment, but as invaluable keys to unlocking deeper insights into our cognitive functioning and the farthest reaches of our dreaming minds. Much like a video game quest, our journey has just begun. Each new discovery, every level unlocked, takes us deeper into understanding the extraordinary tapestry of the human psyche. As we ‘play on’ in this grand game of unraveling our mental mysteries, who knows what dreams may come—and what extraordinary insights we will glean from them?
And I’ll leave you with another question that I will be pondering: Could video games be purposely designed to encourage lucid dreaming in their players? This could involve game mechanics, storylines, visuals, or other elements that are believed to foster lucid dreams.
Please share your thoughts below.
- Lucid Dreaming refers to being aware that one is dreaming and potentially controlling the dream.
- Video Game Dreams: Dreams incorporating elements, themes, or characters from video games.
- Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep: This is a stage of sleep where the most vivid dreaming occurs. The brain is highly active during this stage, often involving temporary body paralysis.
- Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) Sleep: This is a sleep stage characterized by slower and synchronized brain activity, and it’s divided into three stages: N1 (light sleep), N2 (moderate sleep), and N3 (deep sleep).
- Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP): This is a phenomenon where elements of video games transfer to the real world or other non-game contexts, such as dreams.
- Continuity Hypothesis: A theory that proposes that our waking experiences continue to influence our dreams.
- Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams (MILD): A technique used to induce lucid dreaming by mentally rehearsing a dream and affirming that one will become aware they are dreaming when they next dream.
- Gamification: The application of game-design elements and principles in non-game contexts. It’s often used to improve user engagement, organizational productivity, learning, and more.
- Dream Rehearsal Therapy: A form of therapy used for conditions like PTSD and chronic nightmares where patients are taught to rewrite their nightmares while awake, so they’re less distressing when they occur during sleep.