On the first day of my Sensation and Perception class back in college, the professor walked in, looked out the window and said- "See that apple tree out there? How do we know it's really there? And how do we know it's an apple tree?"
Well, hardcore gamers might've seen an apple tree with…with…rocket launchers hanging from the branches! No, that's not what this study implies, but I still think it's funny.
According to a recent study by Nottingham Trent University and Stockholm University, there may be a new psychological phenomenon unique to avid videogame players. It seems that some gamers "involuntarily integrate elements of video game playing into real life," which means they're sorta losing touch with reality. For instance, one participant in the study said he started seeing health bars appear over people's heads, while other participants reported seeing in-game menus, altered real-life situations, and even dissociative experiences, like moving a finger to press a controller button when not holding a controller.
The study group consisted of 42 "frequent video game players" with ages between 15 and 21, in order to demonstrate any possible long-term effects of games through the analysis of Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP). So yes, that's what would be happening if the apples turned into rocket launchers in my aforementioned exaggerated example. GTP can occur both intentionally and involuntarily it seems, and this can also result in automatic behavior pertaining to interaction and imitation. You know, like actually imitating something you did in the game.
Unsurprisingly, participants said GTP tends to disappear when their game time decreases, and half actually said they use elements of games to help them solve real-life problems. If you want to read more, you'll have to pick up the July-September 2011 issue of the International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning. …did you know such a journal existed?