Dreams and Video Game Play Jayne Gackenbach Grant MacEwan University & Athabasca University Games for Health 2010 Conference Boston, MA firstname.lastname@example.org
Why are dreams important? Rich history across most cultures Royal road to the unconscious – Freud While opened up dreams as important, he also pathologized them With discovery of REM sleep and the sleep laboratory, dreams entered science While not local only to REM, those that are most recalled and most often puzzled about are typically REM dreams
Why are dreams important? Function of dreams increasingly clear Evolutionary threat/play (Revonsuo; Humphrey) Emotional Regulation, especially negative emotions (Kramer; Nielsen; Zadra) Memory integration & consolidation (Stickgold) Problem-solving, creative inspiration (Barrett) Metacognition (LaBerge; Kahan; Kahn) All this serves personal and interpersonal needs if shared and processed but need not be
Why study gamers dreams? Media saturated society Video game play represents the most immersive and interactive media experience Isn’t it all just incorporation? Yes gamers dream about games And no, Example of value of studying gamers dreams... Gamers dreams show fundamental structural differences
Presence in Games and Dreams Dreams have been called the “gold standard” for presence (sense of being there) in VR and games (Revonsuo; Moller & Barbera) Never measured until now (Gackenbach & Rosie, 2010) Played Mirror’s Edge in lab before sleep Gathered dreams for next two weeks Presence measured after game and after dreams
Presence sum score NO DIFFERENCE Items (12) got 4 differences 8 NO DIFFERENCE: The dream/game caused real feelings and emotions for me. (Dream > Game) Overall how much did the things/people in the dream/game look like they would if you had experienced them in waking reality? (Dream > Game) How much did you feel like the events of the dream/game were happening to you? (Dream > Game) How often did you feel "My body was in bed, but my mind was inside my dream" or "My body was in this room, but my mind was inside the environment I saw/heard"? (Game > Dream) Presence in Games and Dreams
Gamer Defined Play video games on average several times a week Typical playing session more than 1 or 2 hours Played 50 or more video games over your lifetime Been playing video games since before grade three Type of Game Preferred only considered in latest studies, seemed to make no difference 5 years ago
Dream Dimensions Examined Lucid and Control Dreams Bizarreness and Creativity Nightmares and Threat Simulation
Lucid – Control Dreams Gackenbach, J.I. (2006). Video game play and lucid dreams: Implications for the development of consciousness. Dreaming, 16(2), 96-110. Gackenbach, J.I. & Kuruvilla, B. (2008). Video game play effects on dreams: Self-evaluation and content analysis. Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture. 2(2), 169-186. Gackenbach, J.I. (2009). Video Game Play and Consciousness Development: A Replication and Extension. International Journal of Dream Research, 2(1), 3-11.
Lucid – Control Dreams & Gaming Subject #014: Lucidity triggered by an event Michael: Well, once Jean Grey (a marvel comic and video game character) got loose and started killing people, I was like this is really weird this is probably a dream and it was like right after that she showed up and I told myself that I need to wake up. I thought that something bad was supposed to happen and I didn’t want it to happen so I should wake up. Gackenbach, et al. (2009)
Gamer Sample Lucid/Control Dream Subject #014: Lucidity triggered by an event Well, once Jean Grey (a marvel comic and video game character) got loose and started killing people, I was like this is really weird this is probably a dream and it was like right after that she showed up and I told myself that I need to wake up. I thought that something bad was supposed to happen and I didn’t want it to happen so I should wake up. Gackenbach, 2006, 2009a, b; & Kurvilla, 2008; Gackenbach, et al. (2009).
Methodological Refinement Gackenbach, J.I. (2009) Electronic media and lucid-control dreams: Morning after reports. Dreaming, 19(1), 1-6.
Methodological Refinement Previous studies long term retrospective memory Collected Dream report and when Normal sleep length and rested amount Questions on media use history and media used the day before dream Questions reflecting about dream reported Dreams (N=152) for analysis were chosen if: Last night Rested (had typical amount of sleep)
Principal Component Factor Analysis on Dream, Gamer and Media Use Last night, rested dreams, N = 152 Dreams Self Labeled Day Before Media Use
Parallels video gaming/lucidity Video game Play video games technologically constructed alternative realities Video gaming has been associated with improved spatial skills Low motion sickness needed to play a lot High absorption is reported by players Lucid/control dreams Dream worldsbiologically constructed alternative realities Lucid dreamers show better spatial skills Lucid dreamers have better vestibular systems (not susceptible to motion sickness) Meditation is highly associated with lucidity and is training in developing one pointed absorption
Is the Lucidity – Video Game Play Association Self Selection? Yes To be a serious player you need to not suffer motion sickness For serious game play spatial skills are an advantage Most games of serious players cater to boys Those who are able to get absorbed should do better No Almost all children through to young adults play some form these days Spatial skills improve with play Girl games are being developed and is a large growing market Attention/absorption improve with play
Bottom Line Gaming is too wide spread to reduce to purely self selection There is increasing social pressure to play Gaming is only one part of our networked life Percent growth in US 2006-2007
Gackenbach, J.I., Matty, I., Kuruvilla, B., Samaha, A. N., Zederayko, A., Olischefski, J. & Von Stackelberg, H. (2009). Video game play: Waking and dreaming consciousness. S. Krippner (Ed.), Perchance To Dream, Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, p. 239-253.
27 gamers 56 dreams male norms
Significant Differences from Male Norms More dead or imaginary characters appearing in dream reports (21% vs 0%). Why be human in a game? They have fewer powers than other types of creatures.
Dead or Imaginary Characters Subject 001- Dream 11 “I dreamt I was a character is Underworld 2, it was a werewolf character and then I became a 3rd person. It was the two main characters, it was the vampire girl and a hybrid werewolf character and I was another werewolf character beside them and we went into a vampire coven and we got to the weapons section of the vampire coven and then I woke up”
Later looked at bizarreness due to this finding
Dream Aggression Smaller number of dreams with aggression (32% vs 47%) Yetmore intense aggression (namely physical aggression, 86% vs 50%) when it happened
Dream Aggression Example Subject 002- Dream 6 “… I went outside … with my cat and shot these criminals that were trying to eat my dad and they were on top of my dad trying to eat his arms and he was fighting them off, and they were trying to hold him down and bite his shoulders and there was blood and stuff. And it was a very graphic shootout for a dream; it was very blood and guts ya know? And when I ran out of ammunition there was like pistol whipping and stuff going on and that one sticks out in my mind because it was very graphic…”.
Dream Misfortunes Fewer Misfortunes (7% vs 36%) Fewer Bodily Misfortunes (0% vs 29%) Aggression and misfortune findings lead to threat simulation and nightmare questions Thus less victim /more control
Dream Bizarreness Gackenbach, J. I., Kuruvilla, B., & Dopko, R. (2009). Video game play and dream bizarreness. Dreaming, 19(4), 218-231. Gackenbach, J.I. & Dopko, R. (in submission). The Relationship between Video Game Play, Dream Bizarreness, and Creativity. Consciousness and Cognition.
Domhoff – 2007 meta-analysis dreams are more coherent, patterned and thoughtful than previously suggested still some bizarreness in adult dreams far less than what was expected based Illusion of Dream Bizarreness
Methods Study 1: Recent Dreams Self reported dream questions Various media use information Study 2: Two Week Online Dream Diary Features that were bizarre for subject Various media use information Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT) Verbal and the figural tests Revonsuo & Salmivalli Content Analysis
Unusual (subject) Bizarre (judges) Non-bizarre (judges) Low Game Group High Game Group Covariates: sex, # words in dream, # hours of video game play day before dreamDreams were 279 from low end gamers and 162 from high end gamers
Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking No gamer group difference for verbal test Significant differences for figural test favoring high gamer group
Factor Analysis on Game Play, Lucid Related Dream & Bizarreness Variables Gaming loads with and without lucidity-control but with lucidity-control you have bizarreness Gackenbach, J.I. & Hunt, H. (2010, April). Video Game Play and Lucid Dreaming as Socially Constructed Meditative Absorption. Paper to be presented at the biannual meeting entitled "Toward a Science of Consciousness" sponsored by the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
Nightmares & Threat Simulation Gackenbach, J.I. & Kuruvilla, B. (2008). The relationship between video game play and threat simulation dreams. Dreaming, 18(4), 236-256.
Threat Simulation Theory dreaming is an adaptive process with an evolutionary foundation (Revonsuo, 2000). dreaming allows us to simulate threatening situations in the safety of a virtual environment of dreams. continued practice would allow an individual to better prepare for these possibly dangerous instances, were they to arise in the waking world
Dreams Collected Online Questionnaires night before dreams only, average hours since dream to recollection being under one hour minimum word count of 40 words 98 participants/dreams 35 males 63 females
Principle Component Factor Analysis of Media, Threat Simulation Intensity, and Dream Self Evaluation Variables Gaming Day BeforeMedia Use Threat Simulation Self Report on Dream
Nightmares versus Bad Dreams Le, H. & Gackenbach, J. (2009). Nightmares of Video Game Players: What do They Look Like? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, Chicago, ILL.
Method Participants 231 low- and 222 high end gamers Instruments Media usage questionnaire Impactful dreams questionnaire (Lucid, Nightmares, Mystical, and Bad dreams) Content Analysis Hall and Van de Castle’s method for content analysis (HVDC)
HVDC Aggression Sum Score Nightmares Bad Dreams Low Game Group High Game Group
HVDC Misfortune Sum Score Bad Dreams Nightmares Low Game Group High Game Group
Judge Rated Emotionality (HVDC) Consistent findings with previous research Nightmares had more negative emotions than bad dreams No interaction with gaming group
Self-Rated Emotionality Scale of Dream No gamer group difference or dream type difference Self rated emotions: anger, awe, sexual arousal, anxiety, fear, guilt, frustration, sadness, hatred, happiness, jealousy, and embarrassment Negative emotions (anxiety, frustration, and fear) were found to be higher in bad dreams for high-end gamers While positive emotions (sexual arousal and happiness) were found to be greater in nightmares for high end gamers!!!
Self Reported Emotions: Sample Subscales Nightmares Bad Dreams Bad Dreams Nightmares Low Game Group High Game Group Low Game Group High Game Group Anxiety Happiness
Hall & Van de Castle Content Analysis of Lucid vsNonlucid Dreams of Gamers from 4 Previous Studies Gackenbach, J.I. & Hunt, H. (2010, April). Video Game Play and Lucid Dreaming as Socially Constructed Meditative Absorption. Paper to be presented at the biannual meeting entitled "Toward a Science of Consciousness" sponsored by the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
Participant - Observer Gamer Opinion of how video games enter into dreams Lucidity, bizarreness, yes. Aggression, sometimes. nightmares very rare 3rd person “I’ve just noticed that sometimes I’m just there as a hovering spirit watching things go on and I don’t really have a role … I don’t even pop up in my dreams, it’s just like I’m watching a movie … I feel emotion definitely regardless of whether or not I’m the person involved” – s16
Conclusions & Implications Lucidity/control Do these preliminary results imply that lucid/control dreaming will become widespread given the saturation of media? Bizarreness Are gamers semantic networks more diverse? Aggression/Threat Simulation Does gaming protect the person against nightmares?
For more information.... Email for slides and/or papers: email@example.com Some of presentation summarized in this book chapter Gackenbach, J.I., Kuruvilla, B., Dopko, R. & Le, H. (2010). Chapter 5: Dreams and video game play. In F. Columbus (Ed.), Computer Games: Learning Objectives, Cognitive Performance and Effects on Development, Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.