Role-playing like a boss - in your dreams

Gamers are better at lucid dreaming

If you’re not in the least interested in the improving of the self, you might not know what a lucid dream is. A lucid dream is a  dream in which the dreamer is aware of the fact that he or she is dreaming and can alter the flow of the whole dream scenario. If you have at least once, during a nightmare, become conscious of the fact that you are indeed just dreaming and could wake up from the torment, you might very well be on the path of becoming a very effective lucid dreamer. Conscious or lucid dreaming is said to be very beneficial to self-confidence, creativity and skill building, because you have a whole sandbox universe inside your head where you can experiment with anything that you can think of. Slavador Dali is probably the best example of what the creative mind can bring after sessions of lucid dreaming, but William Blake or composers like Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner are also rumored to have explored the world of dreams in detail.

The technique of inducing lucid dreaming is still something of a mystery. While in the olden days Opium was believed to be the perfect vehicle for such tasks, nowadays, through meditation and willpower, it is believed that anyone can reach conscious dreaming. The secret is to focus on your brain while trying to fall asleep and not let yourself slip into unconsciousness. Easier said than done of course. Personally speaking, I never reached a state of full control of my dreams. But I can however, when I’m really involved and obsessed with a problem, exercise solving it in my dreams. That is how I overcame my fear of riding the bicycle and solved some more complex programming tasks at university for example.

Why am I able to do this sort of naturally? It seems it’s because I’m a gamer. LiveScience reports that Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Canada, has discovered that playing video games before bedtime improves the level of awareness in your dreams. The transition from video games to dreams is easy because both constitute alternate universes. While dreams are of course, spawned by your own mind, games are collective imaginative products of the conscious minds of the development teams, driven into your mind by technology. Playing is nothing but practising on how to control an imaginary universe, so these skills can be applied just as well into dreams. In her research, Gackenbach has discovered that gamers, just like skilled lucid dreamers, have better spatial skills and are immune to motion sickness. Gaming can also strengthen your level of focus and concentration, in the same way that meditation does. She even went so far as to compare the dreams of non-gamers and hard-core players and she discovered that players experienced dreams in which they were outside their body and could control the outcome more often.

Sure, playing video games will not turn you into the next Neo, but it will sure make your dreams a lot more fun. Statistically, gamers have less nightmares, because they can easily reverse the threats in their dreams and become the threatening presence to the entities they encounter while sleeping. The moment they understand they are dreaming, they’re turning the whole universe into a self-imagined level in which goals and probably even achievement become obvious.  However, there’s also a downside to playing too much: your dreams might be less scary, but when they are too powerful and you cannot contain them, their violence is stretched out to the extreme, into a hyper-fest of frights and gore.

Ana Todor is a Computer Scientist with a playful and literary twist. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Studies and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, Digital Interactive Entertainment.

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