Study: Video Games Keep Out The Nightmares

Study: Video Games Keep Out The Nightmares
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The Wall Street Journal has news of yet another gaming study, but this one’s pretty darn interesting: Rather than judge video games’ effect on violent behaviour or socialisation, the study looks at whether games can help people escape nightmares.

Specifically, the study looked at military men and women, 64 of whom were “hardcore gamers” and 22 of whom were not and found that the low-frequency gamers had much more threatening nightmares than the ones who played often.

Low-frequency gamers also reported being passive victims in their military dreams, while the high-frequency gamers were active participants. That games numb players to violence, often cited as a negative quality, may be beneficial for soldiers, the researchers said. The habit of fighting back, and winning, in video games, may carry over into the virtual world that arrives at 2am.

Now that is pretty cool.

Video Games Inoculate Against Nightmares [WSJ]

Image: Roald Dahl’s The BFG.


  • I read about this, or a similar study, a few years ago. The findings were interesting to say the least. Playing video games trains your brain to find solutions to threatening situations. Therefore, when your dream involves a threatening situation, a person who games frequently is better suited to finding a ‘solution’ to the situation in the dream than a person who is a non-gamer, or a casual gamer.

    tl;dr yeah. its interesting. read the paper if you can find it.

  • Is this good or bad for your mental health? Are nightmares really a problem? Anecdotally I would say that for me persistent and strong nightmares during the night seem to coincide with poor judgement during the day. But the nightmares and poor judgement may be due to some other underlying cause.

    • I’m sure you’ve heard the theories of dreams being just random images that pop up as your subconscious processes things, or as methods of your body forcing your conscious mind to stop ignoring what the body is trying to tell you. Another theory I’ve heard is that the large number of nightmares and anxiety based dreams is a natural coping mechanism that allows us to meet dangerous and uncertain situations more easily(similar to #35’s article, though less about solutions and more about not running).

      If any of those turns out to be true, nightmares themselves are good, but, with exception to the third point, they’re pressence is a sign of bad things.

      • / We only make 9% in the US?! Color me surprised I uegfrid the numbers between male and female would be closer by now. I’m definitely not a part of the 80% who own a wii either I love my xbox 360 and PS2 way more 🙂

  • Military dreams? How much COD and Battlefield are they playing?! My dreams are nothing like that, then again, I guess I play too many Japanese games for that 😉 (saving the world from giant robot aliens who still have hearts and souls, and saving the gal, all in an hour’s worth of dreaming).

    Even then though, I’m lucky if I’m just not having a dream that involves me sitting in class, or sitting on top of someone (maybe deep and dark emotions kept inside for treating people as furniture??), sitting on top of someone in class (that person’s back has gotta be hurting after all the human-stool stuff going on) for a whole damn hour. So it’s all strange to me.

  • This is absolutely not cool. Another study saying that games numb us to violence, a conclusion which is unsupported and dangerous, and then uses that assertion to explain their findings.

  • I used to find myself exposed to weapons back in the days before all this Call of Duty nonsense (from films and such). Whenever it came time for me to ever wake up, or actually pull the trigger in those kind of dreams, I simply could not, the gun would not do anything. It would not cycle at all, like it was a solid piece.

    Now I can ‘fight back’ in nightmares after enjoying more game-time, and I have to say that it’s inspiring to wake up triumphant as opposed to being locked up in fear of a morning after my brain decides to throw a tough scenario at me.

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