12% Of Gamers Still Hear ‘Explosions’ Hours After Playing

New research suggests that 12% of gamers suffer from “game transfer phenomena” (GTP) where they continue to hear sounds from a video game, even after they’ve finished playing.

The research comes from Nottingham Trent University’s International Gaming Research Unit, and was published in the  International Journal of Cyber Behaviour, Psychology and Learning.

Researchers studied gaming forums and collected data from 1244 gamers. Of these, 155 (12%) had complained about having auditory experiences as a result of playing.

The gamers said that they continued to hear sound effects, music and characters’ voices from the game they were playing. Sounds included vehicles, lasers, bullets, beeping, explosions, screams and even breathing from the game. This was either triggered by something in the real world or happened without warning.

One gamer even reported hearing someone constantly whispering ‘death’ for a few days. Those surveyed relayed concerns that they worried about “going crazy” and that the noises were “disconcerting”.


A common denominator between those suffering from GTP was that they had all been gaming for an excessive amount of time. The worst cases appearing in those who had been gaming for two days straight or throughout the night.

A previous study by the same team found that some participants were seeing images from games they had played such as menu screens, which would pop up in front of their eyes, or power bars above people’s heads.

Nottingham Trent University has researched this topic before and drawn critism for a relatively small sample size. Nottingham Trent, Angelica Ortiz De gortari, says that this new study backs up previous findings: “This research supports findings of previous studies into game transfer phenomena, which show that video game playing can induce pseudo hallucinatory-like experiences.”

She continued: “These experiences can sometimes result in illogical thoughts and behaviours. It’s important to help gamers understand their experiences since re-experiencing sounds and voices may provoke distress, especially when associated with dangerous situations in the game.”

De Gortari thinks that GTP happens because the sounds have a meaning and purpose in video games – and their meaning affects how players can respond in real life. “Players hear the sound in their head or ears, or they externalise it. The research tells us about how the brain forms associations, and how easily they can be confused. It shows a lack of control over auditory experiences – they can be disturbing, annoying or even funny.”

Researcher Professor, Mark Griffiths, said that the solution is for gamers to simply cut down the amount of hours they’re gaming: “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.

“For some gamers, the phenomena are conditioned responses, therefore the best way for the tiny minority that may have longer lasting phenomena is to simply cut down the amount they play.”

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