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Reader Discussion: What Video Game-Related Gifts Did You Give Or Receive?

The holidays are bursting with generosity. Many seek the perfect gift for someone special in their life. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting something we’ve been pining for but can’t afford, like a video game or a console; other times people go to extremes to hunt down crafty video game memorabilia for fans, such as a special plush, figure, or t-shirt that’s hard to find. Either way, we thought it’d be cool to share a special gift you gave or received and discuss why you’re excited about it.

Feel free to share all the detail you want. Maybe you somehow tracked down one of those hard-to-find ambiios (I’m still heartbroken about not being able to find a Marth!), or maybe you or someone went above and beyond to get something specially made in the name of video games.

Share your favorite gifts and why in the comments below! – The Feed

Dreaming Of Video Games – Researchers Investigate How Playing Games Affects The Sleeping Mind

Art by Tristan Hilliard

If you play video games, then there is a high probability you’ve dreamt about one of your interactive experiences. Maybe you’ve walked the grasslands of Hyrule, sprinted through a science-fiction battlefield, or seen Tetris blocks falling into place while you were asleep. Whatever the scenario, video games are particularly adept at appearing in dreams, which is a fascinating phenomenon for those who study the sleeping brain.

[This feature originally appeared in Game Informer issue #254]

Bob Stickgold, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, has been studying dreams for years. His curiosity was sparked while on vacation, where he had vivid visions in his sleep of the mountain climbing and white-water rafting he had been doing earlier that day. Stickgold was fascinated by the idea of daily activities incorporating into dreams, and was eager to study it, but knew taking his students or other test subjects to go mountain climbing and white-water rafting to analyze their dreams was a difficult and expensive endeavor. While complaining about this complication to one of his classes, a student brought forward the idea of substituting Tetris.

Stickgold is a self-admitted “massive, addicted” Tetris player, but the idea of including it in a study about dream incorporation had never occurred to him. He began implementing it into his studies, having subjects play the game before going to sleep and then waking them up to report on their dreams just as they started to drift off. He found a staggering 75 percent of his subjects reported the appearance of Tetris in their dreams.

Researchers conducted similar experiments in the past, placing violent or pornographic videos in front of test subjects, but nearly none of these people incorporated imagery from those videos into their dreams. Another study from Stickgold involving the arcade game Alpine Racer, which tasks players with controlling on-screen skiing action with real skis below their feet, returned even stronger numbers in terms of dream incorporation.

Video games have a way of infecting our unconscious mind, and Stickgold thinks it’s an area ripe for more study. “I gave a talk at about this at MIT once, and 90-percent of the hands went up when I asked, ‘Have you ever had this experience playing Tetris?’”

Emotionally Invested
The reason video games are so prominent in dreams, and in a much broader sense the purpose of dreaming to begin with, is a question scientists continue to study, but Stickgold and others have a few ideas. Stickgold hypothesizes dreams are a recap of emotions as opposed to specific visual memories, simulating preparedness for the future.

“Video games, first of all, have a lot of effects associated with them – a lot of emotion,” he says. “An emotion is a real good indicator for your brain that this is important by definition.” Your brain marks those elements of your waking life as important and plays with them during your dreams to try and spark recognition.

Stickgold says in the same way a well-designed video game starts off easy and ramps up difficulty to remain consistently interesting, your brain plays with ideas, creating strange imagery in such a way to keep you continually invested in what is happening. This is why your dreams sometimes include confusing experiences or elements you don’t like. “Your dreaming brain is happy with a five-percent hit rate,” Stickgold says in regard to your dreams inspiring emotion.

Jayne Gackenbach, a psychology professor at MacEwan University and co-author of the book Play Reality: How Videogames Are Changing Everything, has studied the effects of video games on dreaming for years and similarly hypothesizes about the emotional impact of dreaming.

Gackenbach says most media we appreciate is of a passive or push nature. We watch and become emotionally invested, but without interaction, or “pulling.”

“That high interactivity is going to increase your immersion, your emotional commitment,” Gackenbach says. This is why your unconscious mind often revisits it while sleeping.

For more on how video games affect our sleeping brain, and gamers have fewer nightmares than non-gamers, head to page two. – The Feed

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For my part, the hula hoop seems like the most fundamentally misguided idea. What’s your opinion? Check out the video below, and share your choice for the worst lightsaber in the comments below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

[via: Polygon] – The Feed

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