Posted on May 29th, 2010 6 comments
I have just about finished attending two gaming conferences, Games for Health and Canadian Game Studies. There are more and more gaming and related conferences occurring beyond GDC in San Francisco. The questions that have come up for me that I hope get addressed include ones I was asked about at each conference and in a meeting with a couple of dream researcher colleagues:
1. What is the mechanism that seems to allow game like strategies to be introduced and adapted for the challenges thrown at the dreamer while in the dream? Well seems to me it’s practice so much so that well learned behaviors become automatic in appropriate situations whether awake or asleep. This is a no brainer from the perspective of the game effects literature but not quite so straightforward in dreams. While yes dreams are where new information gets knit into the fabric of your memory systems, and where emotions are sorted out and especially negative ones coped with, there is a ton of waking stimuli that the dreamer is exposed to every day. So why specific game information?
2. Then relatedly, what about games is salient enough to get integrated into dreams? Is there a difference between game types and dream incorporation? If so what does that mean? If not what does that mean? I’ve basically just looked at overall high end play versus low end but that won’t do any longer, our lab needs to consider a more refined approach.
3. What about sleep onset mentation? Might more direct incorporation occur there? It should, but does it?
4. How are games being used to not only protect against nightmares but to dull the stresses of daily life? Is such play therapeutic? Some evidence for casual game play seems to indicate that but what about for the more “hard core” games?
Posted on May 27th, 2010 No comments
I’ve been having a different media experience in that a story on livescience about my labs work on gaming, dream control and nightmares has gone viral (http://www.livescience.com/culture/video-games-control-dreams-100525.html). That’s nice but what is really meaningful is the letters I’ve been getting from soldiers who game. Here is part of one I just got from a man just returned from being deployed. He writes:
I’m also a veteran in the US Army twice over and just recently got back in April 2010 and I have so many soldiers that went over seas and became videogame players due to the work tempo and stress.
Meaning that by the end of the tour there were more videogame players and in many cases that was the only way they could ‘escape’ from each other and the worries of home. I’m a Sgt and you can see my uniform on my profile and personally I’ve seen videogames help those that are mentally and
Posted on May 27th, 2010 9 comments
Video Game Play and Lucid Dreaming as Socially Constructed Meditative Absorption
Jayne Gackenbach and Harry T. Hunt
Grant MacEwan University, Brock University
Absorption, fantasy play, lucid dreaming, and dream bizarreness/metaphority are psychological constructs. Their relation to gaming (Gackenbach, 2006; 2009; Gackenbach et al., in press) raises a more general level of analysis. We consider the placement of gaming in the social nature of consciousness as explanatory vehicle. Often the collective societal nature of higher states of consciousness, and absorptive states generally, is missed by westerners, given our values of heightened autonomy and extreme individualism, whereas in fact similar states in traditional tribal societies, guided by their explicit mythological systems, are what held these societies together in the sense of Durkeim’s collectivity of consciousness (Hunt, 1995; Turner & Whitehead, 2008). We propose that gaming serves some of the same societal function in today’s youth as explicit mythological systems have in indigenous cultures. For us, unwittingly as a rule, these states experienced in gaming are a spontaneous reengagement with that level of collectivity from a place of our individual conscious isolation in highly differentiated and pluralistic modern culture.
In this paper we explore research which has shown that video game players report more lucid dreams than those who rarely game (Gackenbach, 2006; 2009) which appears to be mitigated by a type of meditative absorption. The lucid dream/video game connection is examined from three perspectives: lucidity as meta-cognition, lucidity and dream bizarreness, and lucid-nonlucid differences in general dream content for hard core gamers. It appears that gaming adds a dimension to the lucid dreams of gamers such that their full potential for focused problem solving is expressed very much like the strategies of video gaming. The enhanced bizarreness of lucid-gamer associated dreams may also serve as a trigger for the emergence of their increased lucidity. The exotic-mythic element of the lucid bizarre dreams of gamers (Gackenbach et al, in press) is similar to previous research on the archetypal content in dreams (Hunt, 1989). Finally, by comparing the lucid versus non-lucid dreams of gamers, it was concluded that lucidity in gamer’s dreams emphasized the already generally positive dream experience of being lucid in sleep, including the enhanced aggression which facilitated the sense of empowerment also typical in video game playing. Not only is there more lucidity in gamer’s dreams, but that lucidity seems to be further enhanced by the gaming experience.
To be absorbed in consciousness, be it in lucid dreams, intense fantasy or meditation is also to be absorbed in the social field more deeply than is available in ordinary consciousness. Since consciousness itself is collective already, and the high absorber is entering the level provided in traditional times by externalized ritual and myth, gaming offers those in contemporary western individualistic society much the same function. Specifically it is an externalized absorptive consciousness with provided patterns that are accordingly socially structured, simultaneously shared, and so offering some of the support of tribal societies, which individual high absorbers in the west have lost in their only ostensibly “private” lucid dreams and meditations.