Study: Some Gamers Hallucinate Game Sounds After Playing

Study: Some Gamers Hallucinate Game Sounds After Playing

A new study from researchers at Nottingham Trent University says that playing games in long sessions may have some surprising side effects, like causing you to hallucinate sounds from that game you played even when you're doing other, non-gaming stuff.

The researchers were looking into "game transfer phenomena" which includes "perceptions, cognitions and behaviours influenced by video game playing" and about 12 per cent of the 1244 people they surveyed admitted to actually hearing sound effects, music and characters as they were going about their lives. One provided anecdote mentions a voice yelling "go, go, go" when the person couldn't get past other people on the subway.

The key point here is these hallucinations usually happen after extremely long sessions — like a whole day, not just a couple hours — and the researchers say these may not be super worrisome.

"Game Transfer Phenomena appears to be commonplace among excessive gamers and most of these phenomena are short-lasting, temporary, and resolve of their own accord," researcher professor Mark Griffiths explained in the press release about the study, which has been published in the International Journal of Cyber Behaviour, Psychology and Learning (find it here).

Griffiths also called these occurrences "conditioned responses", which does make sense as the transfer phenomena isn't just sounds, but also reflexive actions or visual hallucinations (like seeing menu screens). Many of us can probably relate to this to some degree, especially if there's been one game you've binged on over weeks or months. There's one music cue in Star Wars: The Old Republic, which plays every time you enter the Republic Senate building, that I heard everywhere for a few weeks in 2012.

I'm curious about this. If you've got a relevant anecdote, I'd like to hear it.

Videogamers still hear sounds after playing [Nottingham Trent University]


    "Conditioned responses" sounds a more suitable term. I hallucinated a Vortigaunt from Half Life making tea in my kitchen... but that was probably the drugs.

    I have schizophrenia, and hallucinate voices all the bloody time.
    I also play MMOs mostly. The power of suggestion is strong with the influence of noise from a game.
    A NPC from inside the virtual world resonates into the real world quite often, and its not just quirky remarks.
    In elder scrolls online the characters you walk by have such reference to something thats going on that it completely makes you immersed into the depths of the universe, be it virtual and physical.

    I can only feel sorry for the future generation of gamers that are going to experience virtual reality headsets along with all this "suggestion".


    I discovered this for myself when I was a teenager after long sessions of Quake.

      The slip gate noises mostly.

    fire in the hole!

    i remember hearing that when trying to sleep 10 years ago or in quiet rooms, damn counter-strike

    yeah i get this too when i play long hours or stints on a game.... like i could have sworn i heard claptrap rolling around in my place but it was just the cat flap clossing

    I get this all the time after spending a whole heap of time in my chosen DAW Reason. I keep wanting to press Ctrl-Z after screwing something up. Also, after long sessions of Diablo, the gold pick-up sound can be heard for AGES after stopping :D

      Reasons great! I spent years in it... now have moved to ableton.

        I still use it. I'm slowly working my way into Sonar, but only for mastering at the moment (using Ozone 5). I've been using Reason for over 10 years - I'm scared to let go of it completely hahaha :D

    If I go straight to bed after a long session, often I will see afterimages of the game playing on the inside of my eyelids! They are sorta 'ghosty' animations, occasionally I can almost play the game in my head. I haven't noticed any audio component but I have noticed its less likely to happen with FPS style games and more likely with larger perspective type games (Spelunky, StarCraft, Majesty).

      This used to happen to me after playing Super Mario 64 for long stretches very late at night... glad I'm not the only one!

    I remember playing super metroid all weekend once as a kid, when i went to bed on Sunday night, i closed my eyes and saw the game playing in my head, it was like i was still playing, i could hear and see everything. At that point i knew i had played too much.

    Yeah, I had to stop playing Unreal Tournament because every time I made a headshot that damn voice would ring through my head.

    Im curious to know how much is hallucination and how much is perception/ imagination.

    I have during near sleep had those borderline dreams where i heard sounds of games. I have also often heard sounds in music that i swear are specific sounds from specific games.

    As for the "hearing someone saying "go go go"" when you cant get past someone, that sounds more like an imagination thing than a hallucination, but im surely the people who did this study know the questions to ask to tell the difference between hallucinations and imagination.....wait, no, i dont believe that for a second.

    I still randomly hear Command & Conquer death sounds sometimes, I blame playing CnC for 24 hours straight every so often

    This is news? The Tetris Effect has been known about for a couple of decades now. Even then, this isn't a gaming specific phenomenon, if you are exposed to a repeated stimulus, it's going to affect how you interpret things, especially if they sound alike. This is even more present in things like PTSD where the stimulus is associated with strong emotions.

    Well having played Dark Souls 2 a fuck tonne over the past 4 days, I've had some weird dreams, but not hallucinations

    I 'discovered' Led Zep's IV about the same time I got the original Sonic for my Sega as a kid. To this day when I listen to that album I hear the game effects intermingled with the music. Was a bit trippy when my son installed a sonic game on his Xbox and I had a mess of flashbacks.

    Been playing games almost daily since I was 7 (24 years ago!) and I've never experienced such a thing.

    I've been on a bit of a Total War binge at the moment, and after I claw myself away for the night, I can still hear the sounds of medieval knights yelling "sally forth!" and "charge!", as well as the calming folk strings that play during the campaign map turns.

    That being said, I listen to music every day on my way to work. By the time I get to my desk, I can hear the songs I was listening to. Usually specific parts. But these are just in my head. As in my head that they almost sound like background noise. Maybe this isn't what the article is talking about?

    On numerous occasions I hear the Xbox 360 achievement sound effect in my day to day life.

    I get excited, then disappointed.

    The Gen 1 pokemon center music.
    I still remember sheepishly asking one of my friends if they could hear the music even when they weren't playing. Turns out they also did.

    Haven't played tf2 in a while, but just last week walked through the office and flinched a little at the sound of some thing made here. It sounded just like tf2 turret guns. That sound they make just before shooting.

    Last time I played tf2 was more than 2 years ago

    Most definetely...I used to see lense flares everywhere after playing Unreal, or notice the air ducts after glutting on duke nukem lol

    Halo,shield recharge sound.

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