Shutting out other people
Virtual Reality (VR) terrifies me. I should celebrate it; representing the future of gaming – VR will allow a true convergence between traditional and newer interactive media. But what about the social aspect of gaming and what about the future of the human race?
My recent piece on Marvel games highlights how much I love couch co-op. VR completely removes the sofa and will allow gamers to experience a new video game defined reality. Will VR kill of the social aspect of gaming? My experience of online multi-player is that it’s fun with friends, horrific with strangers.
We live in a world where people are becoming more selfish. Technology allows us to remove ourselves from the world. The other day I was on a tube, in the carriage there was a woman. She happened to get off the same stop and then walked the same direction of me. She wore big headphones, stared at her phone for the entirety of this time. She didn’t look up to use her Oyster card, to get off the carriage or even cross the road. Maybe I’m getting old – but for me it’s anti-social and willingly plugging into the Matrix.
With such behaviour with more basic VR what will happen with immersive headsets? Hardware and software manufacturers particularly with regards to video games will have to ensure usage is monitored and restricted. Aside from possibly breeding selfish behaviour, the effect of long term VR use is not yet known.
There are health risks and psychological dangers. Distancing users from reality could cause cognitive dissonance. I’m worried about the inherent laziness of our species and the endless need for childhood escapism of our generation. Life is scary, adulthood is difficult hence the rise of crushing Hikikomori paranoia. If people struggle to leave the house and escape to cyber space at the moment, under VR will people struggle to leave the idealised world of their headsets.
Aside from the risk of mental imprisonment, digital escapism also risks people disregarding more mundane but life-giving requirements like sleeping and eating.
William Usher over at Cinemablend also highlights the risk of panic induced heart-attacks as explained by Cloudhead Games’ creative director Denny Unger. Particularly with the ability of video games to raise heart beats in gamers living sedentary lifestyles.
Games producers are right to explore VR. It pushes the boundaries creatively and makes business sense. Despite my abhorrence of the apparently increasingly online and selfish human race, it is a fast growing market and one that it makes sense for content producers to cater for. However, to protect business reputations and fellow human beings – when this hardware is commercially available this year, I hope that industry tries to protect its customers from themselves.
Article also includes a screenshot from Nintendo’s Wii Sports, sourced from an article titled Casual Gamers: Dictating the Success and Failure of Nintendo by Chris Hyde and published on Dealspwn
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