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The Mind’s Eye: Games and Altered Consciousness

Well known and admired occult fictionalist H.P. Lovecraft once said, when asked if he played games, that “games are for the weak minded.” However, new studies suggest the truth behind this matter may just be just the opposite.

In fact, games may even be capable of helping “condition” the mind for lucid dreaming , as well as working with a variety of different trauma-coping mechanisms of the mind.

According to a report detailed at the LiveScience and MSNBC websites, Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Canada, has spent the last several years studying parallels she believed may exist between lucid dreaming and video games. Gackenbach had initially noticed how both lucid dreamers and gamers exhibited heightened spatial skills, suffering less from disorientation such as motion sickness. High levels of concentration, assisted by meditation and other focus-enhancing techniques, were also similar to those of video gamers who spend hours at a time wrapped up in electronic entertainment.

In 2006, Gackenbach began two studies aimed at trying to determine if positive or negative correlations might exist pertaining to the way gamers and non-gamer’s minds worked. Indeed, those who enjoy video games frequently tend to experience more lucid dreaming involving out of body experiences (OBEs), as well as being able to “take control” of their dreams.

This reminds me of an account described to me several months ago by a man who claimed to have “spaced out” badly while playing video games. During the game, the man had gradually begun to experience a sense of separation from his physical body, and described feeling as though he were actually “in the game.” The experience, however, was anything but pleasant, and moments after feeling these strange sensations begin to manifest, he paused the game and tried to “snap out of it,” afraid he was getting sick or feeling the beginning of a migraine or other health concern. In this instance, it certainly sounds as though an altered OBE-like state was nearly achieved, possibly as a result of the experiencer’s intent focus on the game he played.

Another consideration pertaining to the study involves how one possible link between the gaming and lucid dreaming that follows might be that people playing before going to sleep are somehow influencing their psyche. Along these lines, another study recently pointed out that staring at laptops and computer monitors late at night might expose the eyes to excessive radiation and “blue light,” offsetting the human sleep cycle (circadian rhythm) slightly. This might be as a result of melatonin production, which seems to be influenced by our exposure to light. Could exposing the eyes and rest of the body to artificial light before bed also literally be upsetting other aspects of the most sensitive elements of human physiology, enabling an enhanced control over dream states?

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Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.
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