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Study says gaming can lead to visual hallucinations

Some reportedly imagined similar displays in real life
Some reportedly imagined similar displays in real life
Polyphony Digital

A recent study suggests that playing video games for extended periods of time may lead to hallucinatory experiences. The study was conducted by Angelica B. Ortiz de-Gortari and Mark D. Griffiths of England's Nottingham Trent University, and focuses on the visual aspect of Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP). The researchers surveyed users across 54 online gaming forums. This turned up 656 accounts of hallucinations, recalled by 483 different individuals.

Some subjects reported seeing menus or other prompts appear during conversations, while others visualized the heads-up display (HUD) found in racing games when driving. These incidents made some feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, leading a few to question their own mental health. Others found it difficult to sleep or concentrate on tasks while experiencing visual GTP.

While this study is fascinating, its validity is questionable. Researchers had very little in the way of personal information about each subject. This includes each person's psychological background, which could be a major factor in determining who is susceptible to these types of hallucinations, or whether gaming could be considered the root cause of their symptoms. Doubt can also be placed in the reliability of those contacted over the internet, as a message board poster's truthfulness can be difficult to gauge.

Regardless of the inherent flaws of this study, it does offer a more in-depth look at the growing issue of GTP. Hopefully more studies will be conducted regarding this phenomena and how it may affect the other senses as gaming continues to become a more prevalent aspect of our society.

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