Opinions and Culture

Video Games: Brain Gain or Drain?

Jayne Gackenbach Ph.D.

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Host: Jayne Gackenbach Ph.D.

Video games. Sometimes demonized, always compelling – and wildly popular, video games have become ingrained as part of our society. Yet it is still largely unknown how these games affect the minds of those who play. Find out the truth, the questions, the research – and what we don’t know about this highly controversial part of our society and what they may mean for both the future and for our dreams.

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Video Games: Brain Gain or Drain? – Racial representation and gaming

My interviewee this time is André Brock from the School of Library and Information Science at the University of Iowa. His recent article in Games and Culture called ‘‘When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong: Resident Evil 5, Racial Representation, and Gamers” was the topic of our conversation. Brock writes that, “videogames’ ability to depict cultural […]

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Video Games: Brain Gain or Drain? with Jayne Gackenbach Ph.D

Jayne Gackenbach received her Ph.D. in psychology in the U.S. at Virginia Commonwealth University in 1978. She is currently a professor at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
For the first 20 years of her career she focused on research into dreams, and especially lucid dreams, with several books and many articles and book chapters. Her books include:

Conscious mind, sleeping brain: Perspectives on lucid dreaming (1988)
Control your dreams (1989; ebook release 2012)

She is one of the past presidents of the International Association for the Study of Dreams. The highlight of her professional dream career was when she presented her research into lucid dreaming to the Tibetan Dalai Lama at a meeting on Sleep, Dreaming and Dying in India in 1992. The proceedings appeared in Sleeping, Dreaming and Dying: An Exploration of Consciousness with the Dalai Lama.

In 2010 she was prominently featured in a documentary on dreams which accompanies the blueray DVD release of the movie Inception.

It seemed an odd shift to begin work on new media including the internet and video games in the last third of her career. But when she bought her son a Nintendo in the mid-1990’s she became aware of its pull. Thus began over a decade of research, publication and media interviews on video game play.

She has several books on these topics including:

Psychology and the Internet: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Transpersonal Implication (2nd edition, 2007)
cyber.rules (2007)
Play Reality: How Video Games are Changing Everything (2012)
Video Game Play and Consciousness (2012)

She has focused upon the impact of gaming on various states of consciousness including dreams, flow, and absorption. She has 18 refereed journal publications and five book chapters on video game play as well as 40 papers presented at professional conferences. Jayne also co-teaches a course at Grant MacEwan University on video games covering the psychological side.

Since 2010 her work on video game play was featured in over 100 media outlets and has included magazines, newspapers, and news agencies such as The Wall Street Journal, New Scientist Magazine, Bottom Line Women’s Health, LiveScience, XBox Magazine, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, Vancouver Sun as well as both Edmonton papers. Online news agencies such as MSNBC, Yahoo news and Canwest covered this research. There was also international coverage with interviews from journalists in England, Australia, Brazil and the Netherlands. Radio and television coverage of my work in the last 6 months included, BBC London, CBC Edmonton and Calgary, and Global TV.


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