Weekend Hot Topic: Dreaming about video games
Readers discuss the strangely common experience of dreaming about video games, from Doom to Mario Kart.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Grant, who asked whether you’ve ever dreamt about video games and why you think they made it through to your subconscious.
Dreaming about games isn’t unusual and we did have one person talking about the infamous Doom inspired strafing dream. Although surprisingly nobody mentioned the even more well known Tetris effect.
I can rarely remember my dreams, but I do remember back in the 90s, the ‘strafing’ dream – where you’re moving very rapidly from side to side, just like in Doom. I think it was pretty common at the time, so you may have a lot of other gamers of a certain age mentioning the same thing. I don’t recall much about the content of the dream (scary or otherwise), just the movement.
I don’t know if it’s because I was just playing Doom a lot (which I was) or if Doom is particularly scary (which it was, at times). But my theory is that it was the first genuinely convincing 3D world in games (in the sense that it really feels that you’re moving through an actual landscape), or at least any games I’d played, and that’s why it had such a strong psychological impact.
It would also explain why games since then haven’t had the same impact – nothing has been as big a breakthrough as Doom was at the time.
I’d be interested to hear if any of your readers with a good VR system have experienced VR dreams…
Super dream, bro
While I probably have, I’ve never remembered any game related dreams I may of had. However, when one of my nephews was around seven or eight, we were all sat in my mother’s one Saturday morning.
I was hung over from a big teenage session down the local park, dad was making dinner and the family were in and out, when my nephew, sitting cross legged, in his pants, on the couch turns around and says ‘I had a lovely dream about Mario’ to which we all roared with laughter and asked him all about it. I still tease him about it to this day… he’s nearly 30.
big boy bent
It would have been around 1992. I was 13 or 14. I had negotiated with my mum taking the next day off school, as it was clear I was coming down with the flu.
That meant, to me, I had the whole evening and next day wrapped up in bed playing games on my Mega Drive. Probably with Mars Bars and a bottle of Irn Bru. Despite the illness, things could have been worse.
What a year 1992 had been for that system. I’d blown my birthday and Christmas money combined on Street Fighter 2: Special Champion Edition; Streets of Rage 2 made such an impact I still go back to it today. But it was Speedball 2, the violent futuristic cyberpunk sport game with an overhead view I had been playing that night, that eventually entered my dreams.
11pm, 12 midnight, 1am in the morning. I was working my way up the league against teams with names such as Violent Desire and Raw Messiahs. I trammelled opposing players hoping to score. Got flattened against arena walls as adversaries ripped the ball from out my arms. Sliding towards an armour upgrade, I got struck down and needed to be carried off the field by some robots.
The fever intensified. 2am or so and I really needed to sleep. Setting aside my joypad I slid down into bed and closed my eyes. Suddenly I had a first person view of the game. Armoured combatants body-checked me. Multiple opponents bore down as I attempted to advance. The crowd roared deafeningly when I was lifted in the air and then trampled, inches from scoring a goal.
I imagine the next day I played Columns or something similarly sedate.
P. Thomas Donnelly
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Nights into dreams
Three games invading my dreams spring to mind.
At uni, way back in the mists of time, I had an N64, and my housemates and I absolutely hammered Mario Kart 64. It got to the point where several of us ended up dreaming we were on the Rainbow Road track as ourselves.
A few years later, I was playing Catherine on the Xbox 360. I completed it in a short space of time – maybe a week or so of intensive late night sessions – and by the end of it my dreams involved a lot of climbing up towers, moving blocks around to progress. Spoiler: I survived.
Finally, just a few months ago I was engrossed in Metroid Dread and it really encroached on a good night’s sleep. I don’t think those dreams were about the gameplay as overtly as the others, but they had the level design, oppressive atmosphere and, I think, some E.M.M.I.s. Despite being the most recent of the three dreams, the details seem haziest presumably because it was the most stressful – it wasn’t about racing my friends or solving a block puzzle, just survival!
FoximusPrime81 (gamertag/NN ID/Twitter)
Currently playing: Pentiment and Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. Both fantastic.
Second person dreaming
I rarely dream of games, but of the ones that do, they seem to involve shooting.
If I’m playing a first or third person shooter online before going to sleep, there’s a small chance it ends up in my dreams. The characters from the games don’t appear (or at least, I can’t recall them when waking up) but it’s more like the gameplay mechanics that I dream of. It also seems to end up being a weird hybrid first/third viewpoint (I don’t get how your perspective in dreams work).
I can’t think of any other games that’ve appeared in my dreams, even if I played them for a marathon four/five hour stretch before sleeping.
ttfp saylow (gamertag)
Now playing: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst and Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
Secrets in dreams
Back in the early 90s I lived on an estate. Two twin brothers owned a Mega Drive and various games and where quite keen on swapping with me and my SNES for a week or two to see what all the fuss was about.
I obliged because deep down I had the same questions I needed answering in the back of my head.
I obviously fired up Sonic The Hedgehog first and played a bit through that.
Then towards the end of the night I played Golden Axe.
I remember getting stuck at a ravine/crack in the floor which I had trouble getting past.
I turned the Mega Drive off and went to sleep. It was that night that I dreamt how to cross that void.
I woke up and thought if give my dream a try?
It worked and to this day I can’t figure out why my subconscious figured it out while I was asleep, but I couldn’t do it in the so-called real world.
On another note a good friend of mine bought Super Steet Fighter 2 on import from the States for £80 on the SNES 30 years ago.
Obviously, I was round his house playing it a lot (what are friends for after all?).
I remember completing it and quite enjoying the title music at the end.
For the life of me though I couldn’t remember the tune.
I went to sleep that night and woke up about 3 o’clock in the morning with the tune in my head.
The subconsciousness is a very weird thing and I think this Hot Topic could be a very interesting one indeed.
I remember being jobless and spending all my time playing Halo 2. I dreamt about it, I was flying a Banshee or something.
I stopped playing soon after that, as my mum made me give the Xbox back to my brother after I had bought it off him; what a nightmare. I bought that fair and square.
Perchance to dream
I can definitely say I dream of video games more often than not, and the more popular ones that are reoccurring are definitely Dark Souls and Resident Evil. The reason, I think, is not only being highly engaged with these games from a concentration point of view but the fact I have had more nervous moments playing these games than most other titles.
I am actually in these games trying to survive myself and exploring the world. With Dark Souls it was me playing it and experiencing difficulty and nervousness when taking on dark foes. Saving the game gives me a challenge, also, and I wake up when I just can’t seem to save the game properly. So weird really! I guess I have nightmares about unsaved progress!
I have had Mario Kart dreams and the brief BioShock dream but I am known to have vivid dreams. Controlling myself is also something I can do in a lucid dreaming type of way. Flying and escaping things and knowing that I am in a dream sometimes, is something I have found I can do for some time now.
Dreams are a random collection of memories and the subconscious can mix long term memories from the distant past and current and recent memories. I’ve seen plenty of past relatives and old locations I visited a lot from a long time back. Even my real-life emotions and moral code is kept in my dreams. That’s how real feeling the dreams are in the subconscious, and the virtual world created is like another life you live in when you’re sleeping, to re-energise from the real world.
I have heard different people have different dream experiences from others and not all would have had experienced dreams like I have so vividly. Dreaming is something that happens all the time with me, but others will maybe only experience a dream every now and again.
It is fascinating and I love learning more about these subjects and concepts of the mind, as scientists find out more about how our brains and consciousness work. Definitely not complaining about my dreams though and something I very much look forward to when I go to sleep.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Grant, who asks whether you’ve ever dreamt about video games?
That doesn’t mean daydreaming about an imagined sequel or remake but a game that has had such an effect on you that it’s ended up in your dreams. It doesn’t have to be a nightmare but what games have you dreamt about and why do you think they made it through to your subconscious?
Was it because you were playing them a lot or because their story or gameplay had a profound effect on you? Or do you find it inexplicable that they turned up that way?
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