Games for Health: Dreams and Video Game Play and Canadian Game Studies Association: Dreams and Video Game Play
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In a series of studies Gackenbach and colleagues have been investigating the relationship between video game play and dreams. It is increasingly apparent that nighttime dreams are crucial to memory consolidation, information processing and emotional regulation. Thus anything that affects these fundamental processes is important to examine. Three lines of inquiry have been pursued, cognitive factors, emotional content and bizarreness in dreams associated with video game play. The question across studies has been, does hard core video game play change these fundamental qualities of dreams in the player? Specifically our laboratory has identified a positive relationship between video game play and lucid/control dreaming in self reports from long term retrospective inquires (Gackenbach, 2006). More recently this was confirmed with dream and media information collected from college students dreams which were gathered the morning after the dream on well rested nights. Not only were lucid and control dreams associated with video game play, but also with heavier use of various types of electronic media (Gackenbach, 2009). In another study, content analysis of hard core gamers, using a standard dream content analysis system, showed that while there were gamer/norm differences there were more similarities (Gackenbach et al, 2009). However, the differences are worth noting in that while gamers were more aggressive in their dreams than norms, when they dreamt about aggression, they tended to report fewer dreams with aggression than norms. This set of analysis was on dreams gathered from an intensive interview and thus were long term retrospections. In a follow-up study on dreams recalled from the night before (Gackenbach & Kuruvilla, 2008a), some of these findings were replicated while some were not. Of particular importance was the replication of the aggression in dreams results. These findings led to another study where the threat simulation evolutionary theory of why we dream, was tested on gamers dreams (Gackenbach & Kuruvilla, 2008b). Support was found for the notion that daytime video game play may serve the rehearsal for threat function that nighttime dreams have served. The question also arouse about the nature of nightmares in gamers, as the chase and can’t escape scenario of many nightmares clearly did not frighten gamers. Le and Gackenbach (2009) collected data comparing four types of intensified dreams including nightmares and bad dreams from high and low end gamers and found differences in emotional reactions to the two negative types of dreams.