The Societal Impact of Virtual Reality Games
Aside from its practical applications, the use of VR as a medium for computer and video games has been the spearhead or the driving force for its continual evolution and development. The games are getting very real and so realistically real that the user of the device can practically be misled into believing that the virtual world is the real world.
Virtual Reality is a wonderful thing and it could really be used for the practical and realistic advancement of mankind providing a technology that makes a lot of things possible which previously could not be done. This is the idealistic good-for-all point of view the good people of the world will no doubt push for.
Sadly, through the history of the human species, mankind has been struggling to hold unto a peaceful, cooperative and prosperous co-existence. If there are a couple of things that drive the Terrans err…Humans, they are War and Power. This race will use any means to obliterate the Zerg or even the Protos from known space and establish the dominion of Man. They do it not because they are mean and bad but because it is their nature. Oh, of course it’s just StarCraft but that’s the kind of games that we play and love. Think of the excitement, the adrenalin rush and the rage that pushes us to gun down the Covenant and the deadly Flood. Nothing will stop Master Chief !!!
VR as a medium of experience currently provides an effect like no other. The only limitation as of now is in the delivery as you cannot wear the headset for a very long time. You will tend to experience the dizziness and disorientation at some time. They have coined this effect as Cybersickness and the physical effects can be really bad. This is one issue that may soon be remedied for the majority of users as the technology improves.
This brings to the second major issue which is addiction. Gamers are usually addicts in a way. They do spend hours and hours in front of their PC’s or mobile devices and get sort of cut-off in effect from reality. If a CRT, LCD or LED can get you addicted, what more a full 360Deg action packed super realistic point of view with you right in the middle of it. This leads right to the third Issue, which is social, personalized human interactive contact.
Virtual Reality is a reality albeit usually an alternative fantasy based one. Let’s face it, if you’re currently living a not-so-good, frustrating, disappointing shit of a life and you get to spend your time with this awesome babe who makes you forget you where ever married to that nagging witch they call your wife, wouldn’t you take it? Haha…jokes aside but this is a real problem. If most gamers will want to spend their entire existence in the world of games, unhappy husbands might be tempted to explore a different kind of VR gaming which will eventually make those questionable websites online obsolete. Either way, the gamer and the unhappily married Mr. or Mrs. would end up spending most of their time in VR instead of talking things out and communicating.
The fourth issue is a very worrisome one, Desensitization. The people who would tend to be most affected by this would be the hard core FPS gamers or those who find it refreshing to gut down an opponent while staring face to face. A third person perspective has it’s own violent effect, but non beats the emotion of shooting down and beating up that pesky opponent up close and personal while shouting expletives that would make ones grandmother’s skin crawl.
Imagine doing this in VR and doing it again and again to the point that it becomes natural and second nature. No Fear, No Remorse, No Emotion, No Nothing, just shoot, hack, slash and kill. The scary thing is the gamer is actually experiencing the ride of his life and what ever would happen in extreme cases that one goes over the edge and soon finds it difficult to distinguish virtual from the physically real, well…we just might soon find out.
Once a person or gamer is desensitized, the tendency for correct or rather realistic reasoning to be damaged becomes more real. A game that perpetuates crime and does it in such a fun way with all the violence and moral decadence in VR would probably make Grand Theft Auto look like child’s play. A very young mind ( or a deranged one) may end up believing that the game is as real as the real world and what is fine there is also fine in real life. This possibility or probability is rather gruesome for a fifth issue.
Finally, VR can be used as a weapon. It may be a funny thing to think of, but MacGyver can use anything as a weapon. The key words are Mind Control. VR is a very good way not only to educate or reach out to people (that’s positive) but a very good way to torture and brain-wash as well (very negative).
Oh geeez…imagine the possibilities of making a person believe that what he or she is doing is right, without the person realizing that they have been influenced and programmed subliminally. They’ve been doing that with current media for years and VR is truly the next step in mass-media programming and hallucination. It may sound farfetched but studies have shown people tend to donate/insert more into a collection box with a picture of a set of eyes on top of it. The power of the sub-conscious is very strong.
This are just a few of the issues that we should be very concerned about when it comes to VR. The point of this discussion is not to scare or act as devil’s advocate with regards to the potential of current VR technology nor point fingers at anyone but to simply point out that in the organized chaos of the world we have today, almost anything is possible. Therefore, for the sake of a hopeful and at least workable future, let us be aware of what the impact and issues Virtual Reality will have, in society and the whole of humanity.