« The Glovebox and the Glovatar | Main | Will we ever see this on a resume? »

Jun 03, 2007



An obvious one, but I still do it often: I look at the bottom right hand corner of the book I'm reading to find out what the time is.


I used to play a MUD very heavily. The terminology became prevalent in my speech, and I even dreamed in text once or twice. We used to have a running stream of "You've been playing too much when...". I know some were made up, but there was a surprising number that I found myself nodding and saying "Yep, been there."

I wish I could remember some of them specifically, I'd share them.


I am embarrassed to admit it, but during the heyday of Star Wars Galaxies friends of mine and I would look off in the distance while driving down the road expecting to see waypoints to our destinations beaming out of the sky.


i made a mistake in life and tried to load where i saved...


I was walking somewhere and saw a little bush on the ground shaped a lot like an herb in wow, and thought, oh look! Then I realized...

I've also heard a lot of FPS players see their environment from a very strategic point of view after a lot of play (aware of hiding spots, cover etc)

This happens a lot for me actually, if I play any game for any serious amount of time.


I'd post the requisite xkcd comic here, but images can't be posted directly: so here's the link.

Back in the early '90s a friend who worked at Intel managed to put all of Myst on the hard drive (an accomplishment at the time) and we played it for a while on this enormous screen (must have been 21" at least :) ). It was a beautiful game. After a while we got up to leave and sort of blinked at the buildings and trees. I kept looking for things that might be puzzles, and he remarked that "the real world sure has great resolution!"


I remember when I first got into WoW heavily, I drove out of my house onto the street. I started to veer into oncoming traffic (just a little) but was completely unconcerned because, of course, you always just pass straight through other toons. I never came close to a crash, but it took the fright of realizing just what I was assuming to jolt me back into reality.

Oh, yes, and like Judson say, I had the "cool, those are herbs!" experience when walking. All the time.


These are great. Keep 'em coming.

@Mike: That's just too perfect. I'll drop it into the OP. Thanks.


I spent a long time, in GTA San Andreas, trying to find the 100 gang tags you had to spray over. Now (this still happens to me today) when ever I see some plain purple or green graffiti somewhere, for a second, my heart will jump and I'll stop what I'm doing. Of course, then I remember that although GTA and RL have similaritys, they are unfortunately not the same.

I'd also, after long sessions on the Sims, look at things and expect a giant head with options to pop up when I wanted to interact with them.

People can get this with any interest they care about a lot. I do lots of animation, and a lot of the time I will see the individual frames for people walking.

There's also the general thing of trying to use your mouse to activate or point to things in RL.


I read something once, it was a blog post or something, and I think it was supposed to be humours about a Tetris addict sitting on a toilet in a public rest room and looking down to see a tailed floor which then they tried to turn into Tetris patterns, leading of course to their brain imploding.

I once saw some trees in Manchester that were arranged exactly like the ones that I used to run between in ATITD to make wood for the charcoal furnace.

I went walking yesterday in the countryside here in Kent in the UK which always makes me feel of running through WoW or now LOTR as I probably spend more time under trees in those spaces. Also going out for country walks makes me want to stay in and run through virtual spaces generally, one because I’m remind of it and second because it feels good to be in the virtual after doing exercise.

The building in NYC outside NYLS that I think is some kinda telecoms building always makes me think of Half Life 2.

Resistance fall of Man on the PS/3 and The Getaway (lot’s of platforms) are both set in bits of the UK that I know so have a weird impact both in-game and in-physical.

I never drive for a few hours after playing a driving game unless I really have to.

It’s very similar with physical sports though, when I used to mountain bike and skateboard a lot the world was simply a set of things, in the main, to jump off.


Once, while playing HL2, something fell over near my desk and I tried to turn and shoot it.

Because you know, that's gotta be a headcrab zombie there.

Ingame I spun in a few circles as I tried to draw a bead on the real world object from within the game.



After playing a lot of 'Divine Divinity' I couldn't look at flowers without associating their colors with the type of potions I would be able to extract from them in the game: red=health, blue=mana, yellow=stamina, etc.


I remember when I was heavily into raiding in WoW and I walked by a flower shop in London. They had a sign posted outside which said "Pots, 2 for 1" and I thought "Gotta get some before I go into BWL tonight".

My guild thought me a little deranged...


Oh, I forgot one that happens to me all the time still. When I am walking along a path that is straight for about 30 feet and fairly level I usually think *blink*. Can you tell I played a mage a lot? :)

It seems like the background processes get stuck in my head more, like the constant background looking for herbs, or processing for ideal times to blink.


Actually, wordprocessing has actually caused me to sometimes get this urge to hit ctrl-z after a mistake. Any mistake.

I used to want to hit spacebar to pause things (just about anything), but that's stopped since I started playing WoW, since you can't really pause the game. Though I still get the urge to save the game from time to time. >.<


Tivo did this to me. While at a friends house for Thanksgiving, I kept hitting the pause button on the remote trying to pause live TV. Needless to say, they didnt have a Tivo, and were a little concerned about letting me drive home after dinner.

The other time this occurred with me was during my obsession with Jumpgate. The ship capacitors used to power my ship looked exactly like the power transformer boxes sitting on all the lawns in our neighborhead. They were so expensive in the game, I kept thinking I should just pick one up off a lawn on the way home from work.

Never shared that with anyone before


I think you have failed to meet the criteria for the xkcd comic: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.


I'll fix that right away, although the image is linked to their site.


@Ola: Ahem. From xkcd's site:

[The license] means that you are free to copy and reuse any of my drawings (noncommercially) as long as you tell people where they're from.

That is, you don't need my permission to post these pictures on your website (and hotlinking with img is fine), just include a link back to this page.

Don't give me a heart attack like that!


I don't see any attribution... I can't tell where it's from based on what you have posted, unless you expect readers to sift through the comments!

I wouldn't have bothered telling you if I didn't think you cared. Since this site tends to discuss such issues at length, I thought you wanted to fix the blunder. That's all. I have no personal motifs... (or desires to kill you ;-)


Often when I walk on a street or in nature I see changes in the view, it gets better and with more eye-candy.(more shadow, color,...).
I can only describe it as if I swap to a higher graphic setting inside my head.
Also while driving my car I feel much more alert after playing 3D-videogames.


I often feel like bunny jumping when i'm waiting (for the bus, medical appointment, compiling, etc.)!!! (I used to play WoW)


@Ola: It wasn't a blunder -- you were simply in error, as xkcd indicated that a hot-linked image satisfied their requirement for attribution; this is why I quoted the part of their site where it says this; wasn't that clear? You can also hover your mouse over the image to see the attribution. In other words, the use has been fine from the start -- may I suggest that you check a bit more thoroughly before making such claims.


Ren Reynolds says:

"a Tetris addict sitting on a toilet in a public rest room and looking down to see a tailed floor which then they tried to turn into Tetris patterns"

Yep, well documented as The Tetris Effect.


Thanks, Gareth. That's news to me -- very helpful link to the wikipedia entry.


I played a lot (an embarrassing amount, really) of EQ for seven years. My husband played too. He is the navigator of the couple, and I habitually put him on /follow so I didn't have to watch where I was going too closely.... I found myself looking for my /follow macro while driving on several occasions.

I bet if you did a web search for "played too much [insert game name here] when..." I've seen lots of those for EQ and WoW, and a recent one for Second Life.

I can't remember anything else specific, unless you count the time I accidentally referred to my husband by his in-game name while talking to a gamer buddy of ours. The buddy gave me a ton of crap about that :p


I've done the flowers/herbs one a lot. Once, in winter, I saw a woman wearing a red scarf across her face, and my immediate thought was "Defias Bandit!". And I've tried casting Ghost Wolf on myself numerous times when I was in a hurry to get somewhere.

When I finally got my driver's license last year, I found myself driving a lot in the dark (because it gets dark quickly here in Canada in the winter). With the reduced cues, I was constantly under the impression that I was in a driving game. I found this very disturbing since I tend to crash a lot in those kinds of games.


FWIW, my initial interpretation was that Mike made it. Guess I did because I expect academics to attribute quotes explicitly. (btw hotlink != link... your emailaddr bumped too :P)


I thanked Mike for the "link to the comic," not for the comic. I was careful to specify that. The comic is linked to its page on the site; "hotlink" is my understanding of that kind of embedded link to another site -- in any case, it's what the xkcd site owner allows (even suggests, it seems). The hover text also gives attribution (over and above what the site requires). I don't understand your problem with this, Ola.

And what email address bumped? All the links of my name on this site point to my website, not my email, but my email can be found right on that website, and it is a valid address (malaby[at]uwm[dot]edu).


I’ve seen these on forums and always laugh at how many I have experienced. My most common video game induced moments are usually after playing FPSs – I tend to snipe and I have many times found myself looking for high ground to get into a good sniping position while watching for the silhouette of a figure along roof lines.

Of course my inner academic wants to figure out the significance of these. Are they simple passing moments of disjuncture or are we reshaping our long-term engagement with the world in other subtle ways?


I'm struck by how often driving pops up as an activity influenced by in-virtual world experiences (please drive safely everyone). I guess part of the reason I asked this question is, somewhat surprisingly, because I *haven't* had more than a couple of these experiences in relation to WoW, which I've been playing pretty intensely for a year and a half. Of course, the fact that I've most often played a skinner than an herbalist may have something to do with it! The one experience I really remember is that of walking down halls and through rooms in a virtually empty campus building and wondering when the re-pop would happen (turns out, it's in September ;-) ).


Two more examples (one from virtual worlds, one similar to Thomas's car example):

I play online multiplayer tactical shooters a fair bit. Often if I am in a conversation with someone in real-life (be it face-to-face, over the phone, whatever), and if I happen to be sitting at my desk, I find myself instinctively holding down my middle-mouse button "push to talk" every time I take my turn to speak.

I drive quite a noisy car, nearly always on my own. Occasionally a friend comes for a ride too, and if I can't hear them clearly over the engine noise, I turn up the volume on the car stereo instinctively to hear them more clearly.


I've wondered for a long time why Mike Bloomberg turned the ripple off in the waters in the East River. But it could be a client-side problem...Of course, with his prim overload on that god-awful griefer tower he let go up blocking my view of the Chrystler Building, I guess he has other things on his mind.


I remember three significant moments along these lines. The initial one was my first time playing The Sims. I didn't have to work the next morning and my girlfriend had bought it, played for awhile, and then gone to sleep. I played. I was still awake the next morning, and after forcing myself to quit, I discovered myself prioritizing tasks in a different manner. While I would certainly have accomplished these tasks anyway (um, like urinating lol), there was a certain intangible, or residual way of perceiving the world around me that I found fascinating. I'm so glad you wrote this post.

The second was when I inevitably graduated to Second Life. After long building sessions, I would invariably find myself scrutinizing the neighborhood houses for how many prims they used, or in some cases, just viewing terrain in a different manner, a manner hard to describe but certainly relating it to the SL grid in a strange way.

The third, which is funny, was after a long Tringo marathon in SL, which of course was precisely like the Tetris effect described in the Wikipedia article, having to do w/ bathroom tiles even, or the icons on my desktop.

Also, after long coding sessions in LSL or even on a website, seriously, almost without fail, in my half-sleep the next morning I am convinced that I have to write some piece of code in order for the alarm to stop going off. This has happened often.


As an afterthought ( I wrote the anonymous post above about The Sims, SL, and Tringo), I was so intrigued by the residual Sims feeling, I found myself contemplating it for days on end. I likened The Sims to some sort of zen exercise which seemed to have some profound effect on my perception of the world around me lol. If you follow the wikipedia link to a 1994 Wired article on the Tetris effect, you'll read about an initial spike in cerebral glucose metabolic rates (GMRs):

In first-time users, Tetris significantly raises cerebral glucose metabolic rates (GMRs), meaning brain energy consumption soars. Yet, after four to eight weeks of daily doses, GMRs sink to normal, while performance increases seven-fold, on average. Tetris trains your brain to stop using inefficient gray matter, perhaps a key cognitive strategy for learning. In fact, the lowest final GMRs are found in the best players' brains, the ones most efficient at dealing with Tetris's Daedalian geometry.

I wonder if this is why my zen-like enlightenment wore off. At the time, I attributed it to the rosebud!; cheat lol.


lol Um, as another afterthought: I began playing a lot of online poker about two years ago. When my sessions began turning into marathons, I was always expecting some sort of strange, residual experience to occur. At least a dream or two. It never happened. I wonder if this can be attributed to the prominence of shapes (as in Tetris, or the herbs in WoW, or even the pool tables) that seem to trigger these experiences. Even w/ the post-Sims prioritizing of tasks I seemed to visualize them in shapes and distances and urination meters lol. Poker, even online poker, even 12 hour+ sessions, never seemed to do it. Sorry to flood your comments, but these experiences intrigue me lol.


Traffic cones. After playing Uru (Myst Online: Uru Live, as well as Ages Beyond Myst), I cannot look at an orange traffic cone in real life without wanting to move it with my feet or try to balance on top of one.

The original bleed-over effect from years of chatting online hit me when I started saying "slash me [does something]" aloud, or typing "/me [action]" into an email knowing that it doesn't convert actions. I've known people to say "ell-oh-ell" too instead of just laughing out loud.

btw, me hearts this blog.
/me returns to lurker mode.


Thomas --

I actually posted on TN about trying to pick up mailboxes a while ago -- so there are some more stories here. :-)


((@Thomas: Maybe you did what he wanted, but technically the hotlink issues and the copyright issues are independent and unrelated. I don't understand how one can interpret an invisible link as an attribution, but that is perhaps my problem... ((email: I'll send your postmaster a notice then.)) ))


((@Ola: It's not invisible if the hover text gives the attribution, in my opinion. And this is all stuff that we're working through the conventions of right now. In any case, and to make triply sure that there is no confusion, I've added it to the text below the image as well.))


@Greg: Thanks! I went searching the TN archives but that one didn't pop up. A nice collection of contributions, all together.


Back when I played Unreal Tournament, I did a lot of mapping/modding. It got to the point where I was (sometimes unconsciously and reflexively) analyzing game flow in RL spaces I found myself in. I would think "Oh, need more Z-axis here", or "make this hallway a bit wider to make Rocket Arena more interesting". "Wouldn't this be a good spot for the (superweapon-of-choice) spawn".

My co-workers and I have played several successive MMO's together over the past few years. We often refer to and call each other by character name while around the office.

Others nearby just shake their head and mutter "gamers!" under their breath hehe.


I do not seem to experience these types of things with MMOs, but with simpler games I do and with the dvr. When I drive I see dots when guitar hero songs come on the radio and arrows when DDR songs come on. With my DVR I became so used to fastforwarding commercials that I actually complained to my boyfriend once that the remote was broke and he had to remind me that I was watching live tv. I also find game related acronyms in just about every license plate I see now... in fact it appears as though a blm (blackmage) lives next door to me.


One of the most entertaining posts I've seen on TN. God, how I wish I had all of you talking about these instances on camera for our documentary!

The situations that almost get me into trouble usually relate to driving (like so many others) and GTA. Though I'm very against video game censorship, sometimes when I see a person crossing the street and am tempted to push on the gas, GTA-style, I wonder if Jack Thompson has a point... :)

(BTW Ola, couldn't you email Malaby instead of tainting an otherwise amazing thread?)


I had a reverse situation occur to me.

I had spent a tremendous amount of time looking at thin sections of various igneous rocks under microscopes in college. Various patterns, especially twinning in a certain mineral type (plagioclase) would cause me to hunt around for various associated minerals.

I was on auto-run in WoW nearly ten years later and ended up against a fence while I was AFK. When I came back, the fence pattern filling the screen gave me an intense and still-memorable jolt of recognition of my old quarry (pun intended).


(@purewestdocs: nope. his uni bounces email from my relay :P)


Two times. When Doom first came out, a friend told me he was driving home at night, and the speed of his car matched the running speed of the Doom guy, when suddenly everything in his field of view pixelated. He decided to slow down, pull over, and take a nap.

Another time, I was driving from Toronto to Montreal. I nodded off at the wheel. When I came-to, I was gliding over grass beside the highway. I wasn't awake yet, but I managed to do a controlled stop on the highway shoulder before I awoke fully. My hands were on auto-pilot, under trained reflexes from playing the multiplayer arcade game "San Francisco Rush: 2049." Technically my perception wasn't changed, since I was somewhat asleep, but you could say my spinal column's perception was homogenous to playing the game. (kids: don't try this at home, and never drive when you haven't slept or eaten in 36 hours)


I'm starting to think that driving, with its combination of practical mastery (for most, I suppose) and technologically-mediated interface, presents itself as a good fit for the emergence of these moments of lateral disposition-porting. But please, all -- drive safe!

The other thing I've noticed is that it might make sense to talk about the examples here as falling, very broadly, into two types. We have somewhat isolated examples of expecting an affordance in the environment that isn't there (pausing the TV when there's no DVR), and then we have examples that are are more, for lack of a better word, systemic. It's probably more like a continuum, but in the latter, one's perception of a wide array of information seems altered at a deep level. One sees a whole set of relationships between parts of one's context in different ways. Fascinating stuff.


If something as simple as automatically referring to a person by their online nickname instinctively over their real life name counts, then I've done it more often then I care to count. Whoops. =P

I've also encountered a combination of survival horror games and FPS shooting - When I head home from university late at night and no one's around, the darkened corridors and empty corners make me go "Is there something there?" and automatically reach for my non-existent nail gun...


I love to PvP in WoW- mostly in AV and mostly on my shadow priest. Before BC came out and the rep rewards were so much easier to obtain, I logged many hours at a time slaughtering the Alliance in those snowy mountains. Previous to this I had primarily used my priest to heal other players but in this form of combat it was mostly kill or be killed.

The sighting of an enemy player required immediate action- trying to kill them as quickly as possible- and generated a momentum of aggression wholly unsuitable to RL. Yet, the satisfaction of seeing your enemies fall before you was gratifying and probably what motivates most players who PvP.

After these long sessions I would encounter RL slights- someone cut in front of me at in a grocery line, people behaving obnoxiously on public transportation- and the feeling to kill them would still surge in me: I wanted to see them dead on the ground. And then inevitably frustration would set in that unfortunately I was still just a small female without the power to do anything about the drunk guy shouting about how he liked my tits. No Mind Flay IRL FTL.

The comments to this entry are closed.