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I came across some interesting articles today relating to video games, and I'd like to share my thoughts about them with you.

The first article is bad news:

Military parents neglect children to death due to game addiction

Parents’ video-game distraction a growing trend in deaths posted by the Army Times highlights three cases of the children of military families dying because their parents were too busy playing video games to take care of the children.

In two of the cases listed, the parents neglected their children because they were too busy playing World of Warcraft. The third case involved a parent violently picking up his child and shaking him to death because the child would not stop crying, and it distracted him from playing an unnamed video game.

Two things:

First, three cases does not constitute a "trend". Give me statistically-significant numbers, or don't write your article as if its demonstrating a dramatic cause-and-effect relationship between video gaming and baby-killing.

Secondly, what's the deal with WoW players?! You guys need to chill out. It's nice that you have such a fulfilling hobby, but you need to keep aware of your responsibilities in the real world. I have several friends who have had a history of flaking out on social functions in order to stay home and raid on WoW. Although skipping out on board games or seeing a movie or whatever is not nearly as bad as murdering your child.

Video games are shown to be the first effective treatment for adult "lazy eye"

They've already been shown to help autistic children to better function and socialize, help soldiers deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, help stroke patients recover their hand-eye-coordination, and many other useful medical benefits. Now video games are being used to treat a previously untreatable disease: amblyopia ("lazy eye").

A new study from the National Eye Institute showed that 40 hours of video gaming helped amblyopia patients develop better depth perception and visual sharpness.

I thought this article was interesting because we usually associate gaming with deteriorating eye sight.

Video gamers have more control over dreams

According to a study published by Jayne Gackenbach from Grant MacEwan University in Canada, gamers have an increased sense of control and stability in dreams.

Her research found that gamers tended to report higher instances of lucid dreaming and would regularly have a greater degree of control over themselves and the dream environment. Additionally, many gamers are able to ward off nightmares because otherwise frightening and nightmarish events in dreams are often perceived as "fun challenges to overcome" by avid video gamers. Another interesting finding is that gamers have a tendency to switch between first person and third person experiences in dreams, without ever losing the sense of self.

I found this article to be very interesting because it was very relevant to my own life.

I always felt that my dreams seemed very "movie-like", but after reading this article and thinking about it for a moment, I realized that the dreams are probably more video game-like than movie-like.

I do tend to experience my dreams in a combination of first and third person perspectives. I've often wondered if I was the only one who had such experiences, or if third-person dreaming was commonplace. Whenever I would talk to people about my dreams, they would usually be surprised when I described the dream as having been experienced in third-person, so I always assumed that those experiences were relatively unique to my mind.

I'm not quite sure whether my dreams would qualify as "lucid dreams" or not, but I suppose that I have a relatively high degree of control in my dreams. Of course, I can't experience other people's dreams, so I can't really compare my experience to someone else's. One thing that i have noticed is that occasionally, when the outcome of a dream is something particularly undesireable, I have the ability to "reset" the dream to a previous state and take a different path. This is something that I guess is inspired by the "Continue" or "load from save" functions of most video games. But unlike in video games, whenever this happens in my dreams, I rarely ever repeat the same event over again. Instead, the "reset" dream goes off in a completely different direction.

After thinking about it for a while, I also realized that some of my dreams are formatted similarly to video games. In fact, last night I had a dream that included the need to navigate some environmental obstacles that reminded me of the platforming in the recently-released game Limbo. And now that I think about it, puzzle-solving and level-clearing are actually common mechanics in my dreams.

Similarly to the results of the study, I also do not seem to experience nightmares in the same way that other people do. Often, when I have "nightmares", I actually consider them to be fun and exciting, and I often actually want to go back to sleep so that I can continue to experience the thrill of the dream! This is another thing that has confused and surprised people when I tell them about it. I don't remember having any honestly scary dreams since I was a child. The only exception being illness. When I am sick (like with a fever), I do tend to have nightmares that make me not want to go back to sleep.

I always associated my enjoyment of nightmares with my fandom of Silent Hill. I always just assumed that those games had trained my mind to not be bothered by nightmarish images, and to actually find them interesting and fun.

So reading that enjoyment of nightmares is symptomatic of gaming in general is a bit of a surprise to me. I thought it was unique to my experiences with Silent Hill. Regardless, it is nice to know that there is a cause to my unusual dream tendencies, and to know that I am not alone in how I experience dreams. I'm not a freak!

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Comments (4) -

10/06/2013 09:02:56 #

Okay, you may laugh if you want to, but as a proud gamer since age 8 I am not unfamiliar with the following:

- dreaming in 3rd person;

- dreaming of being someone completely different from who I am, for instance, although being a young girl/ woman I sometimes dream of being a man or a child. I think it is much like videogames, where you may have to play a character who is very different from you.
That includes that nightmare where I was something like the red fog from the haunted house in Silent Hill 3, trying not to touch people, not to harm them, but unable to since I could not be "contained" even by walls (I told you could laugh all you wanted);

- finding myself explaining that yes, there were zombies, but it wasn't an actual nighmare as I was not scared;

- the "reload from save" thing. That happens to me a lot, especially in dreams inspired by survival horror videogames. Normally I can only reload from save if I die (logical, isn't it?). That included, recently, willingly allowing a zombie to kill me in order to be able to restart from a previous point in the dream and save a person/character in danger (although being disgusted with the zombies' bites, eww!, and I was dreaming in 1st person that time!)
Too many deaths and reloads from save, though, lead me to a sense of frustration and anguish, as I am unable to break the (unpleasant and survival horror-ish) circle.

- Running for a saving point (with something dreadful following me)

- The pause menu problem: my dreams do not have a pause menu. Since the videogame inspired dreams follow a strict videogame logic, in order to perform certain actions I need to use the pause menu. A few years ago I had some Resident Evil related dreams where I could not pick up or reload weapons because I could not "combine" weapon and ammo in the non-available pause menu. I already said you are free to laugh (especially when from RE2 on characters reload on their own!). I could never fight back. Then one time I kicked a zombie down the stairs and realized I could also fight without a weapon and never had that kind of dream again (or is it because in the latest REs and SHs you don't need to pause in order to equip/reload?).

- a few month ago I had a flirt with creepypasta involving videogames and I went as far as to dream I was in a videogame which soon turned into a typical creepypasta videogame.

Now, for the third time, you can laugh, really, but it is all true.

I think it is really interesting how videogames can influence our dreams. Everything that happens to us influences our dreams, but videogames also change their "logic" in a funny way.

10/06/2013 17:13:04 #

@Valentina: If I laugh, it's with you, and not at you. I've had almost all those same experiences in dreams. Perhaps we should start a club! ;)

I also sometimes get frustrated when my dreams keep getting "reset". Part of it is because I start to get the sense that I'm not progressing, and that I just can't "win". Another part of it is when the "reset" dream has gone way off on a tangent, I start to wonder if it's even the same dream anymore, and why things are so different. It's all so weird.

I don't think I've ever encountered a "save point" in any of my dreams. The resets usually seem to be a simple act of will (kind of like Ashton Kutcher in "The Butterfly Effect").

One of the most frustrating dream types that I have is when I dream that I can fly, but only so high into the air. Like I get to a certain altitude (usually just less than the height of nearby buildings), and then can't go any higher without straining really hard. I wonder if this is derived from the arbitrary bounding boxes (i.e. "invisible walls) that are in so many video games?

You said you've been playing games since you are 8. I've been playing games since roughly the same age (maybe a couple years younger). Out of curiosity, how old are you now? I wonder how long a person has to have been an avid gamer before they start to have these sorts of dream experiences?

Also, what the heck is "creepypasta"?

10/07/2013 07:10:12 #

On second thought, although in some dreams I am looking for a saving point,  in most of them it is more like a "reload from checkpoint" situation where I just know that, if I die, everything will start over from that certain point, even though I have done nothing in particular to "save".
Also, the reload thing only applies to dreams which have strong video game like characteristics to them: if I dream of making a mess at work, there will be no restart option, but if the dream is action-packed (not necessarily inspired by a videogame), then I can reload from checkpoint.

Your dreams where you fly are very interesting. I sometimes dream of flying, but never experienced the "invisible walls" thing. Your explanation leading back to "invisible walls" in videogames makes sense to me! Wow! We found videogame related patterns in our dreams that not even the researchers knew of!

I said I have been gaming since age 8, but Sega Master System games never inspired any of my dreams, as far as I know.
I started having videogame like dreams when I was in high school and I spent lots of time playing Resident Evil and Silent Hill (the old school) on my first Playstation. But the fact that I did not get videogames and consoles immediately when they became available could make it very hard to take a guess... so i'll stop fooling around: i am 29 now!

A creepypasta is a name for a scary short story or "legend" (those things that happen to a friend of a cousin...) found on the net. There are many of them about videogames that act weird. They are hardly ever creepy by normal standards, but I get scared easily and a few of them are worth reading.

10/07/2013 08:25:13 #

To be specific though: the flight limitation is not actually the result of hitting an invisible wall; it's usually the result of me not having enough "power" to go higher. So in order to clear to top of some buildings, I have to strain and concentrate really hard to lift my self higher. But the end effect resembles hitting (and bouncing off) an invisible wall, so it reminded me to similar phenomenon in games.

I did play the first Resident Evil on the Play Station, but I didn't get really into horror gaming until Silent Hill 2 (high school), and didn't start having the video-game-like dreams until about the same time. I wish I had those abilities sooner, because there was one recurring nightmare that I had up until middle school that scared me half to death every time I had it. Ah well, not all 3-year-olds were given Ataris... I'll be turning 28 soon, so we have a similar gaming / dream history!

Anyway, thanks for commenting! This is a fun topic. Feel free to check out my other Silent Hill posts. I have a lot of them, and some have proven quite controversial:
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Unfortunately, I don't have much on Resident Evil. I really want to write a "sacred cow barbeque" retro review of RE4, but I need to replay the game first, and I just don't have the time :/

Ah, now that you mention it, I think I have heard of "creepypasta" before. I think the name is derived from haunted house attractions in which people are placed in dark rooms or blindfolded, and then they are asked to touch "human organs", which are usually just wet noodles. I could be mistaken though.

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