Video games change the way you dream

by Rachel Baker on January 27, 2014

Here is an interesting article about how video games (alternate reality) affects the way we dream (another alternate reality). Editor’s Note: I love my video game dreams!  They are the most vivid, coolest and most meaningful dreams I can remember having.

Maybe you’re meandering, alone and lost, through an abandoned castle surrounded by a crocodile-filled moat. Suddenly, a flame-breathing dragon hurls towards you, snarling and gnashing its teeth, coming in for the kill. Do you wake up from this bizarro nightmare, covered in sweat and close to tears? Or do you stay in the dream, grab your imaginary sword, and walk boldly into battle?

If your answer is the latter, then Jayne Gackenbach would suspect you’re also a hardcore gamer.

Gackenbach is a psychologist at Canada’s Grant MacEwan University and arguably the world’s preeminent expert on how video games can impact dreaming. In the early 1990’s, her son Teace (with whom Gackenback later co-authored a book on gaming) started playing Nintendo, and Gackenbach found herself fascinated with the potential impacts of her son’s new hobby. Namely, the various ways in which hardcore gameplay — characterized in part by regular playing sessions of more than 2 hours, several times a week, since before the third grade — seem to transform the nighttime imaginings of study participants who fit that profile. Those transformations, Gackenbach says, also offer insights into how video gaming might shape an individual’s experiences in the waking world.

“The major parallel between gaming and dreaming is that, in both instances, you’re in an alternate reality, whether a biological construct or a technological one,” she says. “It’s interesting to think about how these alternate realities translate to waking consciousness, when you are actually reacting to inputs from the real world.”

In her most recent paper, published in the latest issue of Dreaming, Gackenbach and her colleagues further solidified a key earlier finding: that so-called “hardcore” gamers were more likely than their peers to experience lucid dreams. Gackenbach first reached that conclusion in 2006, after noting that gamers and lucid dreamers both displayed traits like intense focus and superior spatial awareness in their waking lives. Indeed, when she surveyed 125 gamers and non-gamers on the frequency with which they experienced lucid dreams, Gackenbach found a strong association between the two.

Check out the remainder of the article here:
http://www.theverge.com/2014/1/21/5330636/video-games-effect-on-dreams

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