Level-up life: how gaming can enhance your reality

January 5, 2012 | Source: New Scientist

Angry Birds (credit: Rovio)

Playing games like Angry Birds can warp your perception of what’s real and what’s virtual — and that might be just what you need.

These experiences were given a name earlier this year by psychologists at Nottingham Trent University in the UK and Stockholm University in Sweden. They call it “game transfer phenomenon” (GTP). In a controversial study, they described a brief mental hiccup during which a person reacts in the real world the way they would in a game.

Better graphics cards and bigger displays are deepening the illusion of reality in games. They are not just about moving joysticks and mice anymore. Thanks to the Nintendo Wii and the Xbox Kinect, physical movements that mirror the real thing are involved.

Sophisticated video games have had demonstrable effects on their players. For example, people who frequently play action games often outperform non-gamers on measures of perception and cognition. Other studies have found that intense video game practice improved players’ ability to carry out complex hand-eye coordination tasks and their contrast sensitivity.