Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gamers Can Control Their Dreams?

I always knew the countless hours I love to wile away playing on or playing PC video games would eventually pay off!

Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada  has been interested in video games and how they affect those who play them since the 1990's.  For a decade, she has been involved in game-related research and that research has offered up several surprises.  However, it is important to note that the findings aren't definitive proof, just representations of suggestive associations.

Both lucid dreamers and gamers seemed to have better spatial skills, were less prone to motion sickness and demonstrate a high level of focus or concentration. 

Gackenbach surveyed dreams of hardcore gamers and non-gamers with two studies published in 2006.

Gackenbach's first study suggested that gamers were more likely to report lucid dreams, observer dreams and dream control.  Her second study attempted to narrow down uncertainties and focused more on gamers than non-gamers.  The second study revealed that lucid dreams were common but gamers never had control over anything beyond their dream selves.    They also changed between first person and third person view of themselves during dreams.

Gackenbach's studies have shown that gamers have been able to control nightmare situations during dreaming that, instead of providing fear, the nightmares were more of a fun situation.  Gamers also showed lower levels of aggression during dreams overall but Gackenbach found that when gamers did show agression in dreams, they really showed aggression.

Gackenbach is pursuing a new study with Athabasca University in Athabasca, Alberta, Canada to determine whether or not gaming could be of help to individuals suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  PTSD sufferers have used virtual reality simulators in the past to help manage the nightmares symtomatic with the illness.  If Gackenbach's theories prove true, PTSD sufferers might need to just spend some time playing on thier PC's or consoles before bed.

This week, Gackenbach is scheduled to discuss her studies at the Sixth Annual Games for Health Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

For more information about this interesting study, read the Technology and Science article.

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