Published as: Ortiz de Gortari, A.B., Pontes, H.M. & Griffiths, M.D. (2015). The Game
Transfer Phenomena Scale: An instrument for investigating the non-volitional effects of
video game playing. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 18, 588-594.
A variety of instruments have been developed to assess different dimensions of playing
videogames and its effects on cognitions, affect, and behaviors. The present study examined
the psychometric properties of the Game Transfer Phenomena Scale (GTPS) that assesses
non-volitional phenomena experienced after playing videogames (i.e., altered perceptions,
automatic mental processes, and involuntary behaviors). A total of 1,736 gamers participated
in an online survey used as the basis for the analysis. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was
performed to confirm the factorial structure of the GTPS. The five-factor structure using the
20 indicators based on the analysis of gamers’ self-reports fitted the data well. Population
cross-validity was also achieved and the positive associations between the session length and
overall scores indicate the GTPS warranted criterion-related validity. Although the
understanding of GTP is still in its infancy, the GTPS appears to be a valid and reliable
instrument for assessing non-volitional gaming-related phenomena. The GTPS can be used
for understanding the phenomenology of post-effects of playing videogames.
Keywords: Game Transfer Phenomena, videogame post-effects, non-volitional phenomena,
gaming assessment, confirmatory factor analysis
The proliferation of videogames has resulted in an increased interest in investigating
their effects1. A variety of standardized assessment tools for measuring different dimensions
of playing videogames have been developed.1-3 Current assessment tools can be categorized
into two broad types. Firstly, there are instruments that assess in-game behaviors and
phenomena experienced while gaming. For example, scales for assessing subjective sense of
presence4, dispositional flow5, game engagement6, cyber-sickness or simulator sickness
malaise (e.g., fatigue, headache, eyestrain, etc.)7, 8, motivations for playing3, 9-11, character
attachment12, and identification with avatars13. Secondly, there are instruments or tasks that
have been developed to better understand the psychosocial effects of gaming. These have
either focused on examining dysfunctional gaming involvement employing modified
diagnostic criteria for gambling, substance-induced disorders, and more recently Internet
gaming disorder to measure gaming addiction1, 14-17 or have been to explain the cognitive,
affective or behavioral effects of playing violent videogames.
Some of the better known are the homonymous decision task that assesses risk-related
cognitions by completing a list of words18, and the Taylor Competitive Reaction Time task
that assesses the level of hostility based on the intensity of the punishment provided to an
opponent (e.g., aversive noise blasts, making them eat spicy sauce)19, 20. Measures and
behavioral tests of aggression have been criticized for the way the results have been
interpreted and their lack of external validity21-23, although some evidence supports the
generalization of the results to real-world aggression24. Furthermore, the influence of
unrealistic depictions of real world in media on the perception of the real world have been
assessed25. Cultivation effects (i.e., generalized influence on estimates of the probability of
events, and judgments that reflect beliefs) have only been found in direct relation to
videogame content. In light of the debate about videogame playing and its potential effects on
gamers, it is important to develop new psychometrically sound assessment tools for
examining the direct outcomes of playing videogames, thus facilitating the examination of
Research into Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP) – a multimodal research approach
for investigating the transfer of videogame experiences into the real world by examining
altered perceptions, spontaneous mental processes, and behaviors and actions experienced
mostly after stopping playing26 – suggests that the effects of videogames tend to be directly
related to the content and experiences in the videogame27-31. The GTP research approach has
explored the relationship between videogame structural characteristics (e.g., visual or aural
features) and in-game activities directly related to gamers’ transfer of experiences. The GTP
framework makes distinction between the inner and outer manifestation of non-volitional
phenomena, and whether they are interpreted as self-generated or not (e.g., inner-speech,
auditory hallucinations), and if they occurred voluntarily or involuntarily (e.g., deliberate use
of videogame slang for amusement, involuntary verbal outbursts). GTP are divided in three
main modalities: altered perceptions, automatic mental processes, and behaviors and
Altered perceptions are understood as perceptions and/or sensations related to the
videogame when not playing and can take place in all the sensory modalities, across
modalities or be multisensory. Altered perceptions related to playing videogames have been
identified in the following dimensions27-32:
Altered visual perceptions include mind visualizations, pseudo-hallucinatory
experiences (e.g., seeing game icons above people’s heads), visual adaptations (e.g.,
perceiving objects or environments distorted), and visual misperceptions (e.g.,
confuse physical objects with those in the game)28, 31.
Body and other altered perceptions experiences include prioperception (e.g.,
sensations of body or limb movement), tactile perception (e.g., pushing buttons of
gamepad) and cronoceptive perception (e.g., feeling time slow down)28.
Altered auditory perceptions include auditory involuntary imagery (e.g., hearing
auditory cues in the head), auditory hallucinations (e.g., hearing sounds coming from
objects), inner-speech (e.g., hearing one’s own thoughts preserving features from
videogame character’s voices), and auditory misperceptions (e.g., confusing physical
sounds with those from the game)29.
Automatic mental processes manifest as thoughts, urges, and automatic mental
actions. These range from thoughts about the game (e.g., thinking continuously about the
game) to cognitive biases (e.g., experiencing attention bias toward game-related cues,
jumping to conclusions bias), and source monitoring errors (e.g., confusing what an in-game
character said with what a person said)27, 31, 32.
Behaviors and actions can range from experiencing involuntary motor activations
(e.g., involuntary movements of limbs) to performing actions inspired by the videogame or
changes in behavior influenced by the videogame (e.g., avoiding specific places, mimicking
videogame characters, having verbal outburst)27, 31, 32.
Given the aforementioned theoretical underpinnings of GTP, the aim of the present
study was to examine the psychometric properties of the Game Transfer Phenomena Scale
(GTPS), the first ever theory-driven scale developed for measuring non-volitional phenomena
such as altered perceptions (i.e., visual, bodily, and auditory), automatic mental processes,
and behaviors and actions experienced after playing videogames and understanding the
underlying mechanisms of videogame effects.
Participants and Procedure
A total of 1,736 gamers were recruited online and split into two groups for the
purposes of factor analysis (i.e., Sample 1 [S1], n = 1,078; Sample 2 [S2], n = 658) using
opportunity sampling and an online survey methodology. Participants were recruited via
online gaming forums, Facebook, and meetup.com groups. Ethical approval for the study was
granted by the research team’s University Ethics Committee.
Socio-demographics: The survey included questions regarding participants’ gender, age, and
Gaming profile: Included questions about typical videogame session length and frequency of
videogame playing, as well as gamer type (i.e., newbie, causal, hard-core, or professional).
Game Transfer Phenomena Scale (GTPS): The GTPS included 20 items comprising five
different dimensions: altered visual perceptions, altered body perceptions, altered auditory
perceptions, automatic mental processes, and behaviors and actions. These were derived
based on a theoretical framework concerning GTP developed from previous analyses of over
1,600 gamers’ self-reports26-31. The participants’ responses are rated on a 5-point Likert scale:
1 (“never”), 2 (“once”), 3 (“sometimes”), 4 (“many times”), or 5 (“all the time”). Examples
of items included: “seen videogame images with eyes open when not playing”, “experienced
bodily sensations of movement as in a videogame”, “heard game music when not playing”,
“wanted or felt the urge to do something in real life after seeing something that reminded of
the videogame”, “acted differently in real life situation because an experience in a
videogame” (The final version of the GTPS can be obtained by contacting the first author).
The following modalities were assessed in the GTPS via five first-order latent variables:
The altered perceptions modality assesses (i) visual experiences (visualizing or seeing
images, visual pseudo-hallucinations, distorted perceptions and misperceptions of physical
objects and environments), (ii) auditory experiences (auditory involuntary imagery,
auditory/verbal hallucinations or inner-speech and auditory misperceptions, and (iii) body-
related experiences (motion sickness, tactile hallucinations, other body-related altered
perceptions/sensations, and altered perception of time). The mental processes modality
assesses automatic mental processes such as (i) perseverative mental actions after playing, (ii)
thoughts and urges either about wanting to use videogame elements in a real life context or
performing something from the game in physical contexts, and (iii) source monitoring errors
between videogame and real life events. The behaviors and actions modality assesses (i)
involuntary movements of limbs elicited by automatic associations, (ii) verbal outbursts, (iii)
performing behaviors influenced by a videogame, and (iv) change of behavior due to
previous videogame experiences.
Statistical Analysis and Analytical Strategy
Statistical analysis comprised (i) descriptive statistics of the main sample’s
characteristics and (ii) a psychometric examination of the GTPS. In order to assess the scale’s
psychometric properties, validity (i.e., construct, criterion-related, and population cross-
validity) and reliability (i.e., internal consistency and factor determinacy) were scrutinized.
Moreover, construct validity was investigated by performing a confirmatory factor analysis
(CFA) on the GTPS in S1; criterion-related validity was assessed by examining the
bootstrapped correlation coefficients with Bias-corrected accelerated 95% confidence
intervals (i.e., Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients) between the GTPS overall
scores and participants’ self-reported videogame session length across both samples; and
population cross-validity was further investigated by performing an additional CFA for
replication purposes on S2. Finally, reliability analysis comprised an in-depth examination of
the Cronbach’s alpha of the GTPS instrument as a whole and also across the five subscales in
both samples, while factor score determinacies for each latent variable were also computed.
All the aforementioned analyses were performed on both MPLUS 7.233 and IBM SPSS
Statistics Version 2034
Table 1 summarizes the samples’ main socio-demographic characteristics. Most
participants were male (92.7% in S1 and 80.9% in S2) and were aged ‘between 18 to 22
years’ (52.9% in S1 and 42.1% in S2). Additionally, most participants reported being a
‘student’ (54.8% in S1 and 38.8% in S2). In regards to participants’ gaming-related habits
and behaviors, the majority were ‘hardcore’ players (65% in S1 and 55.8% in S2), played
videogames mostly ‘between 3 to 6 hours’ (41.2% S1 and 43.2% S2) and reported a weekly
gaming frequency of ‘2 to 4 days a week’ (42.6% in S1 and 28.3% in S2). However, in S2,
40.3% (n = 265) reported playing videogames ‘everyday’ (see Table 1).
In order to address the construct validity of the GTPS and also further verify the
suitability of the five theoretical factors proposed, a CFA with maximum likelihood with
robust standard errors estimation method (MLR) was performed on S1 (n = 1.078) on the 20
GTPS indicators. Because there is no consensus on the fit indices for evaluating structural
equation modelssee 35, 36, 37, the goodness of fit was based on several fit indices using the
following thresholds: χ2/df [1;4], Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA)
[.05;.08], RMSEA 90% confidence interval with its lower limit close to 0 and the upper limit
below .08, p-close > .05, Standardized Root Mean Square Residual (SRMR) [.05;.08],
Comparative Fit Index (CFI) and Tucker-Lewis Fit Index (TLI) [.90;.95]. In light of the
aforementioned assumptions, all 20 indicators were entered into a five first-order factorial
solution (see Figure 1). As a result, the analysis of the first-order five factors model provided
an acceptable model fit for the GTPS with acceptable item loadings (i.e., ≥ .50). More
specifically, χ2 = 628.4, χ2/df = 3.9; RMSEA = .052 (90% CI: [.048–.056]), p-close =
.203; SRMR = .040, CFI = .94; TLI = .93 (see Table 2 and Figure 1).
Recent empirical findings suggested that GTP experiences are heightened by greater
videogame session length38. Therefore, an observed positive association between
participants’ session length and the overall score obtained in the GTPS would be indicative of
the scale’s criterion-related validity since these variables are expected to co-vary both at the
theoretical and empirical level. As shown in Table 3, positive statistically significant
associations between videogame session length and the overall GTP scores were found both
in S1 and S2 (see Table 3).
Population cross-validity was assessed by examining if the results obtained in one
sample (i.e., S1) of a population could also be replicated in another sample (i.e., S2) drawn
from the same populatione.g., 39, 40. Therefore, in order to obtain evidence for population
cross-validity, a second CFA was performed on another sample recruited from the same
population (i.e., S2, n = 658) to test the initially underlying conceptual assumptions (i.e.,
first-order model with five latent variables) verified in the first CFA. Moreover, the results
obtained in S2 (χ2  = 492.7, χ2/df = 3.1; RMSEA = .056, 90% CI: [.051–.062]; p-close =
.140; SRMR = .047; CFI = .93; TLI = .92) were highly consistent and comparable with the
results previously found in S1, providing further empirical evidence that the five-factor
model fits the data well, thus warranting population cross-validity.
As shown in Table 4, the GTPS internal consistency as measured by the Cronbach’s
alpha was satisfactory (i.e., ≥ .60) at several levels. In most occasions, internal consistency
could not be improved by excluding any items and inter-item correlations were relatively
high (i.e., ≥ .30) in general. In regards to the GTPS factor determinacy, this coefficient
reflects the degree of the correlation among the indicators and their respective factors, with
values of ≥ .80 being indicative of a strong correlation33, 41, 42. Accordingly, factor
determinacies in the present study ranged from .93 (i.e., Factor 1) to .95 (i.e., Factor 3) (see
Table 2), further supporting the GTPS reliability (see Table 4).
The purpose of the present study was to examine the psychometric properties of the
first ever instrument developed for measuring non-volitional phenomena (i.e., altered visual
perceptions, body and other altered perceptions, altered auditory perceptions, automatic
mental processes, and behaviors and actions) related to videogame playing. Accordingly, the
first-order model including the five dimensions proposed for the GTPS was confirmed given
the results obtained from the CFA in both samples yielded acceptable fit indices and factor
loadings. Additionally, the validity of the GTPS at the construct, criterion-related, and
population cross-validity level was warranted and its internal consistency was adequate.
As suggested by previous research43, game-biased perceptions and associations with
videogame content comprise physical objects (i.e., gaming memories triggered by objects or
people), sounds and music (i.e., gaming memories triggered by auditory cues or cravings for
playing), vocabulary and expressions (i.e., use of slang, abbreviations and expressions from a
game), daydreams (i.e., fantasies and thoughts with game contents that pop up), and night
dreams (i.e., dreams about the game or insertion of videogame elements into dreams). In the
present study, the five dimensions of the GTPS were found to be comparable to a certain
degree to those related to the concept of game-biased perceptions. Studies examining GTP
have demonstrated that game-related cues not simply elicit memories of the game but they
also trigger for example altered perceptions (e.g., seeing menus while in a conversation
because gamers expect to see them as in the game)26, 28.!
The present findings relating to the GTPS are still preliminary in nature and therefore
additional rigorous psychometric testing of the GTPS is paramount. A first descriptive
analysis using the GTPS showed very high prevalence of GTP (97%) when using the criteria
to endorse at least one of the 20 GTPS items, and most participants endorsed six to ten
different types of GTP (95%)44. When interpreting the GTPS’ scores it is recommended that
researchers take into consideration the frequency of the number of GTP experiences for
assessing the level of GTP strength, as well as correlating with variables that assess distress
or impairment in areas of functioning for understanding the effects of videogames. In
addition, the prevalence of GTP should be investigated using more representative samples of
GTP appear to be a temporal and are relatively common phenomena among gamers.
Analysis of gamers’ self-reports has shown that gamers can perceive GTP as something both
positive and/or negative.26-29 In a survey of over 2,300 gamers, GTP were perceived as more
pleasant than unpleasant and some gamers even wanted the experiences to re-occur.
However, one in five (20%) reported that they had experienced distress and/or impairment in
important areas of functioning at some point as a consequence of GTP. It has been suggested
that the content of the game, the frequency of GTP and the circumstances where GTP were
experienced play a role in the consequences of GTP26,44. Further research should be
undertaken to better understand why some gamers experience distress due to GTP
experiences while others do not”. Moreover, the majority of the gamers surveyed that
reported having experienced GTP, were from a non-clinical population and had never used
drugs38 (or were under the influence of them) when GTP occurred44 . However, GTP have
been significantly associated with medical conditions, and a small number of those that have
experienced GTP (3.5%) consider they are problem gamers or suffer from gaming
addiction38. Gamers that have experienced GTP reported playing excessively but playing
excessively is not a requisite for experiencing GTP. Future studies should assess the
associations between GTP as measured by the GTPS and other measurable gaming-related
phenomena (e.g., immersion, game engagement, gaming addiction, etc.).
Limitations: The present study has a number of limitations. Currently, there are no similar
measures to further assess the GTPS validity (e.g., concurrent validity). Additionally, it is
necessary to ascertain the invariance of GTPS to determine if its psychometric properties
hold across both genders and different cultural contexts. Only one indicator was used to
assess criterion validity (i.e., length of gaming session). However, this is the only factor that
has been consistently been found to be associated with GTP in previously published
empirical studies. Further criterion testing could be done once other associated factors found
in future empirical GTP studies have been carried out. The present study was based on
retrospective self-report data and is therefore prone to well know biases (e.g., recall bias,
social desirability bias). Future studies could perhaps assess to what extent GTP experiences
may be related to normal or abnormal functioning and gaming-related behaviors. The
development of the GTPS provides a psychometric framework for further exploratory and
empirical research into GTP and associated behaviors.
Conclusion: The findings of the present study demonstrate that GTP as measured by the
GTPS represents a validly and reliably approach at several levels. The GTPS is the first
instrument developed that assesses a broad variety of post-play gaming-related sensorial
perceptions, cognitions, and behaviors. The GTPS may be an additional useful instrument to
use in studies examining the underlying mechanism of problematic gaming or gaming
addiction, and may help to differentiate between non-volitional phenomena induced by
gaming and symptoms of psychopathology.
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Socio-Demographic Characteristics of Sample 1 and Sample 2
Gender (male, n, %)
Age group (n, %)
18 to 22 years
23 to 27 years
28 to 32 years
33 to 38 years
39 to 43 years
44 to 48 years
49 to 53 years
54 or older
Occupational status (n, %)
Disabled to work
Self-reported type of player (n, %)
Average videogame session length (n, %)
Less than 1 hour
1 to 2:59 hours
3 to 5:59 hours
6 to 7:59 hours
More than 8 hours
Video gaming weekly frequency (n, %)
Less than once
2 to 4
5 to 6
Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the 20 items of the Game
Transfer Phenomena Scalea.
Correlation Between Factors
Further Psychometric Information
Note: All factor loadings are significant at least at p < .0001. Factor 1: altered
visual perceptions; Factor 2: altered body perceptions; Factor 3: Altered auditory
perceptions; Factor 4: Automatic mental processes; Factor 5: Actions and
a: Instructions: Have you ever experienced any of the following: visual GTP,
body sensation GTP, auditory GTP, automatic GTP, behavior GTP.
b: Item wording was omitted for the sake of clarity. The final version of the GTPS
can be obtained upon author’s request.
Bootstrapped1 correlation matrix with bias-corrected accelerated 95% confidence interval
between GTPS overall scores and videogame session length (VSL)
GTPS Overall Scores
BCa 95% CI
1. Bootstrap results are based on 10,000 bootstrap samples
* Correlation is significant at .01
Reliability analysis of the GTPS across Sample 1 (n = 1,078) and Sample 2 (n = 658)
Internal Consistency (α)1
1: The Cronbach’s alpha provided relates to all 20 GTPS items (i.e., whole scale).
Notes: Cronbach’s alpha could not be improved upon exclusion of any item on most
occasions. Factor 1: Altered visual perceptions; Factor 2: Altered body perceptions; Factor
3: Altered auditory perceptions; Factor 4: Automatic mental processes; Factor 5: Actions