The UK news publications The Daily Mail and Metro are taking one on the chin for erroneously reporting on a study we highlighted yesterday that referred to "Games Transfer Phenomena," or a residual effect that some gamers claim to experience where they think about gaming elements in the real world. Researchers in the UK responsible for the study gave both publications open access to the research and gave it to them early, but one of the professors in charge noted that all they were looking for were the negative aspects of it.
Speaking exclusively to Sp0ng, Professor Mark Griffiths, said that newspaper reports that participants couldn't tell the real world from fantasy was grossly inaccurate and was not supported by any of their data. The Daily Mail used the research to tie gaming – particularly related to Grand Theft Auto – to a high profile murder case.
"For one thing, we never said that in our paper (PDF)," Griffiths told Sp0ng, "and for a second thing, the findings don't even hint at that. The press release I put out yesterday regarding this study was completely neutral, not one negative thing in there.
The Metro, they obviously had an agenda – because all [the reporter] said was that he just wanted to know about the negative stuff. I told him that the paper was primarily positive, or at least neutral. He said 'I don't want to know about that, I want to know the negative stuff.' So I just went through what we did, what we found and what we are doing next."
Griffiths also noted that Nottingham Trent University researchers came across the concept of "Games Transfer Phenomena" by accident when participants of another study kept talking about it. The findings published yesterday only represent a preliminary study into the subject.
"Of course 42 gamers is not a representative sample, it says in the paper that it's not and we're actually following that up now on a much larger scale, with participants from all over the world," he said. "We weren't even looking for this. The honest answer is that we went in doing a study for something completely different. But during the interviews it became apparent that the most interesting thing to report on was this unexpected activity – people that just spontaneously talk about carry-over effects from video games into real life."
A follow-up study will use a sample of 2000 gamers.