Research that last year suggested gamers had the ability to control their dreams – or fight back in nightmares – has been applied to soldiers who have seen combat duty, and finds that those who game have fewer and less intense nightmares about war.
Jayne Gackenbach of Grant MacEwan University in Canada says about 100 members of the military were surveyed about their gaming habits. The hardcore, those who played daily and played games like Call of Duty or Red Dead Redemption, had fewer and less intense dreams about combat. “Low gaming” respondents, those who didn’t play much, or played more casual games, showed signs of having more combat-related nightmares.
Gackenbach, who spoke at the Game Developers Conference last week, thinks that video games serve as a “threat simulator” that conditions the mind to cope with intense situations when they come up in nightmares.
One soldier wrote to Gackenbach, saying, “I would see many soldiers, in combat, with PSPs or anything we could hook up to 220v electricity. When soldiers weren’t on patrol, we often had violent war games on our systems. It was weird. Like we didn’t get enough violence.”
Evidently it was good for them.
Can video games quell nightmares? [New Scientist]