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There's a name for that feeling you're hearing sounds from games - even after you've stopped playing

Tom Morgan
1 Aug 2014
The Evil Within
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Game Transfer Phenomena can manifest itself as auditory hallucinations, according to new research from Nottingham University

No, you aren't going crazy - if you've ever heard sounds from a game long after you've turned off the console, you could be experiencing Game Transfer Phenomena. New research from Nottingham University has revealed that the psychological effect can manifest itself as auditory experiences, not just mental pictures.

The report, which was published in the Journal of Cyber Behaviour, Psychology and Learning, suggests that players will often hear sound effects from their games after they've put down the controller. Screams, explosions and gun shots were frequently reported, with one gamer even saying he could hear the crackling radio signal from horror epic Silent Hill every time it was dark.

"There were lots of examples of players hearing the game music, in the same way as you continue to hear music in your head when you’ve stopped listening," Angelica Ortiz De Gortari, the psychology researcher leading the study, told The Guardian. "Some players heard voices, some heard game sounds. Often it happens when you’re trying to fall asleep – players would look for their computer or console because they thought they’d left the game on."

According to the research team, the phenomena usually lasts a few hours following intense or long gaming sessions, but some people have reported experiencing symptoms for days at a time. It was likely to occur when trying to fall asleep, but could manifest at any time and can be triggered by real-world cues, such as walking past a buidling that looks like one from inside a game.

This is the first time that auditory experiences have been used as the focus of an investigation into what the university calls Game Transfer Phenomena - a group of experiences and symptoms which can follow extended gaming sessions. Game Transfer Phenomena is nothing new; gamers reported recognising Tetris shapes in the real world after playing the puzzle game for prolonged periods as far back as the late 1980's. The so-called "Tetris effect" also manifests itself as seeing falling blocks when you close your eyes.

Nottingham's research was apparently based on a small cross section of players talking to other gamers on forums, meaning the chosen subjects could have been exaggerating or not telling the truth, although given the nature of the phenomena and the triggers that cause it, it would prove challenging to recreate it in a controlled setting.

The research is still in the early stages, but it could potentially help improve the way we learn new languages in the future. For now, it already gives us better understanding of how the brain creates associations and how we learn from them.

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