Aphantasia and Role Playing Games


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Thomas Shey

Legend
No. It's like 4%. We just live in a society that rewards people for self diagnosis.

That appears to be, from the discussion, only including the extreme "5" case. It does not cover the 2-4 cases because we have some visualization, but to one degree or another limited. That is apparently a much more common case.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
This is one reason why Theater of the Mind isn't always ideals for everyone. There are people I know who may or may not have aphantasia who nevertheless have difficulties imagining scenes and require minis to help them keep track of what's going on.

That would be me. Its bad as a player and impossible as a GM. The fact I seem to combine it with bad spatial memory doesn't help.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
That appears to be, from the discussion, only including the extreme "5" case. It does not cover the 2-4 cases because we have some visualization, but to one degree or another limited. That is apparently a much more common case.
The numbers I've seen look like 4% (2-5%) in general and 1% for the most extreme case.

One showed 8.9% as the self-report rate, but the ones using the scale to assess it was only 1.5%.

On the other hand Blomkvist and Marks (2023) article in Cortex is about how aphantasia hasn't been particularly rigorously defined.

(And maybe people with (or without) aphantasia like signing up for studies more than the other group).
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
The numbers I've seen look like 4% (2-5%) in general and 1% for the most extreme case.

One showed 8.9% as the self-report rate, but the ones using the scale to assess it was only 1.5%.

On the other hand Blomkvist and Marks (2023) article in Cortex is about how aphantasia hasn't been particularly rigorously defined.

(And maybe people with (or without) aphantasia like signing up for studies more than the other group).

I stand corrected, then; the two discussions I'd seen seemed to indicate the first number was for case 5, and that the others might be as much as an order of magnitude higher, but I haven't read into it in great detail.
 

Jahydin

Hero
I find this both baffling and terrifying. I see stuff in my mind even when my eyes are open.

Out of curiosity, does this extend to other senses. Those with this difference, do you not "hear" thoughts, too?
For me, I absolutely "hear" thoughts. I think completely in words, not pictures.

As for the other senses, I'm good there too. For instance, when I cook, I can imagine what adding more salt would taste like; and when I play guitar, I can imagine what going up an octave would sound like.
 
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Jahydin

Hero
Well, on the bright side you don't have to worry about daydreaming when you are driving a car causes your vision to be replaced with what is in your mind's eye. I have to be very careful how much I engage my visual imagination while performing a task or I cease to consciously see.
This is true (friends comment I drive like a robot), but it also means I can't envision the cars around me, so my situational awareness is terrible.
Also, even though my eyes are visually still taking in imagery and piping it to my brain, my mind certainly still wonders off... 😣

As a highly spatial thinker who thinks in pictures and then puts words to them, even to the point of seeing and hearing the text I am now typing before I put it down, this is one of those things that I have a hard time imagining. It's like I get that blind people would struggle to do it, the way that deaf people would struggle to imagine sound, but that you lack a playback mechanism much less the ability to conjure up something baffles me.
For me, I hear the text as I type too; I just don't need to "picture" it.
For instance, I could type, "The chubby frog forgot it's lunch and sobbed bitterly", without ever needing to "see" the frog. When I first decided to write it, the idea of a frog came to me. I also understand the concepts of chubby, lunch, and sobbing, so no need to visualize it.

My suspicion is that it's like color blindness or autism or inappropriate hyperfocus - really really annoying except in those narrow moments it becomes a superpower. To make up for the lack of mental imagery your verbal skills would have to be really high. I mean I can't remember the name of half the things I know because they are only coming up as pictures and referents and I can't attach the right sound to them. I suspect you don't have that problem.
Mine sure isn't. I am outstanding at mathematics and coding though, so there's that, but not sure if my lack of imagination has something to do with it. I do know that's why I prefer RPGs with solid math and procedures though!
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
That would be me. It’s bad as a player and impossible as a GM. The fact I seem to combine it with bad spatial memory doesn't help.
How does aphantasia and spatial memory correlate? Because I have fairly good spatial awareness but outside of the rare dream, images don’t really come to my mind.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
How does aphantasia and spatial memory correlate? Because I have fairly good spatial awareness but outside of the rare dream, images don’t really come to my mind.

 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I have just been reading the Crown and Skull Free Player's Guide and came across this line in the intro

And I thought it might be an interesting discussion, for those of us who have Aphantasia. I never knew I had aphantasia, or even had heard of it, until listening to one of the excellent 'No Such thing as a fish' podcasts - highly recommended for QI fans! One of the hosts has aphantasia which means he is unable to form images in his mind. The easy 'test' he mentioned was think of an apple, eyes closed, what do you see?'. I see nothing, never see anything in my 'mind's eye'. When I read stories of people seeing the faces of their loved ones, or similar, I thought it was all poetic licence. I close my eyes and I see blackness, nothing else at all. It's interesting to find after 50 years that your mind works very differently from the norm! Apparently, 1~3% of people have this condition, two of my four kids do, so I guess it must be genetic. My wife sees the full on every detail image from below, she's #1 and I'm #5 - I must say I am jealous!
2560px-Aphantasia_apple_test.png

Aphantasia - Wikipedia

For me, then role-playing lacks the visual pictures that (I imagine haha) others imagine. I focus very much on the rules and challenges, not so much the emotion. I can't do theatre of the mind and always need maps of some type to help me, even if it is just dots on a sheet of graph paper. I normally DM and I can describe things perfectly well, I just don't see them. I think that makes me a more 'technical' DM and I know that has meant I have not been a good fit for some groups. Even of people we are still very good friends, I can play board games with them, but DnD just didn't work. I am wondering if any others on here also have anaphantasia? And how does it affect your gaming?

On a positive note, it means I can read a book and when a movie comes out it is not ruined by the character not looking exactly as I visualized :)
5. I’m definitely a 5. Really fascinating topic.
 

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