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Opposing Viewpoints of Virtual Reality

by Ashlye Kaczmarek on 12/04/17 10:01:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Virtual Reality is the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors ("Virtual Reality"). This is a whole new world with endless possibilities. This technology is still new to our world, and as any new technology, there is still things that need to be worked on. The virtual world is growing, but not everyone is so supportive of its breakthrough.
From Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Mental Disorders, Virtual Reality has been utilized to improve the world of therapy. With this new technology, what use to take years to unravel only takes a matter of visits. A great example is given by TechCrunch.com, wherein the situation where the patient spends a great deal of time imagining and thinking about plane crashes and accidents, this may cause them to avoid traveling by air. CBT helps unravel these issues by having the patient attend a number of sessions that focus on the issue at hand and help them identify the problem and eventually find a way to change their mental outlook on the event in their imagination. With Virtual reality, The patient can be directly exposed to their phobia in a safe and controlled environment. This allows for sensory training and anxiety-inducing stimuli, causing the patient to eventually become more relaxed about the situation and therefore conquering their phobia (Senson).
With the Virtual Reality Gaming Industry partnering with the medical field, patients are now able to utilize escapism to cope and learn to deal with anxiety disorders and depression. Based on experience, anxiety is different for everyone. To some people, it is an extensive feeling of instability and directionless panic. Virtual reality and video games in general aid in this aspect by giving the comfort and realization that the world is not real, thus it is not able to be taken away. It gives a world of distraction and a life other than the hectic frazzling one many leads. Anxiety is a very serious and hard to deal with the disorder, but with these methods coping becomes easier. With virtual reality now available, those who suffer are able to find therapy and self-coping mechanisms to live a calmer, easier life.
As any medical practitioner can tell you, performing your first procedure is absolutely terrifying. In medical school, doctors and surgeons are trained on dead bodies that were donated which are called cadavers. For years there have been issues with cadavers, posing biohazards, limited availability, expensive, and they do not act as a living body (Brown). With Virtual reality, the study and medical practice of the human body become specifically safer, less expensive and the students are able to get a more in-depth and realistic experience with life-saving surgeries. In the medical world, there are several procedures that you rarely perform, all in which one only gets a split second of preparation. For example, cricothyrotomy. Cricothyrotomy involves making an incision into the neck and inserting a tube through a thin membrane into the trachea. This requires high accuracy and speed, and if not done correctly, it can be deadly (Glatter). Such procedures will benefit from being taught in a virtual world, because there, no matter the mistake one can keep trying and get as much needed practice, thus making the split second surgery significantly easier and lowering its failure rate.
Through all the amazing scientific developments that VR has brought to this world, there are those who do not support these new changes. As stated earlier, this technology is still new to our world, and as any new technology, there are still things that need to be worked on.  Many people have been concerned with the health and safety risks that Virtual reality poses. One major concern about Virtual reality headsets is what it could do to the developing eyes of a child. In this day in age, children of all ages spend hours playing video games a day. However, with the development of VR, many parents have become concerned with how it could affect their children. Due to the screens in the headsets being fairly close to your eyes for an extended period of time, like cell phones, the eyes lengthen and this inevitably makes the child become near-sighted. However, in contrast to this evidence, it is entirely possible to use VR to diagnose eye problems and treat them rather than cause damage (Hill). There is no real solid evidence that virtual reality is harmful, each negative so far is rather a concern than an issue.
At this point in time, the setup for virtual reality immersion is not particularly ideal and brings many complications. With the VR headsets, the player is still moving the entirety of their body in the real world, which gets communicated into the game. With this mechanic, there are many dangers. Due to you only seeing the virtual world and not the world around you, you won't know where in the room you are, which brings up the possibility of running into objects and possibly serious injuries. Not only does the player have a lack of vision in the outside world, but with most VR systems, there is a multitude of wires that keep you connected to the gaming device. Pairing this with the lack of vision could cause the player to trip over the cords and once again seriously injure themselves. Along with potential injuries brings the possibility of breaking items around the player. When playing, most systems have you use nunchucks to detect one's physical hand movements, usually to register punching, grabbing and other motor functions in the game. Not only does this pose a threat to people around the player but could cause the player to accidentally break devices and items in their space  (Stein).
The man who started it all is Palmer Luckey the Founder of Oculus VR. The Oculus Rift was the first virtual reality headset created. The journey started when Luckey asked for $300 on Kickstarter to make a prototype of the headset. He never imagined it would take off so fast. In two hours of posting, the campaign raised $250,000 and after a month a whopping $2.4 million. In 2014, Facebook decided to purchase the company for $2 billion. Other huge companies' devices that have made extreme changes in the Virtual Reality community are HTC Vive, Sony PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR (for mobile phone), Google Cardboard (mobile phone), and Microsoft HoloLens.
The world is ever expanding, however, with the new technological developments, it might become an even smaller world. Nothing in our world is perfect, everywhere we turn there is a possibility of injury and unhealthy outcomes. As many people play devil's advocate and others protest the new virtual world developments, it seems the pros outweigh the cons. This is a whole new world with endless possibilities, why let it slip away and take all of the good that comes with it.

 

Works Cited

Brown, Justine. “Can Virtual Reality Replace the Cadaver Lab?” Center Digitaled, 15 Oct. 2015, www.centerdigitaled.com/higher-ed/Can-Virtual-Reality-Replace-the-Cadaver-Lab-CDE.html. Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

Gajsek, Dejan. “10 Virtual Reality Leaders You Should Follow in 2016.” Mediuim, medium.com/@dgajsek/10-virtual-reality-leaders-you-should-follow-in-2016-81ad3a65c3e5#.te4ymxrto.

Glatter, Robert. “How Virtual Reality May Change Medical Education and Save Lives.” Forbes, 22 May 2015, www.forbes.com/sites/robertglatter/2015/05/22/how-virtual-reality-may-change-medical-education-and-save-lives/#18a38d65f890. Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

Hill, Simon. “Is VR Too Dangerous for Kids? We Asked the Experts.” Digital Trends, 23 Apr. 2016, www.digitaltrends.com/virtual-reality/is-vr-safe-for-kids-we-asked-the-experts/. Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

Kuchera, Ben. “The Complete Guide to Virtual Reality in 2016.” Polygon, VOX Media, 15 Jan. 2016, www.polygon.com/2016/1/15/10772026/virtual-reality-guide-oculus-google-cardboard-gear-vr. Accessed 15 Sept. 2016.

Senson, Alex. “Virtual Reality Therapy: Treating the Global Mental Health Crisis.” Tech Crunch, AOL, 6 Jan. 2016, techcrunch.com/2016/01/06/virtual-reality-therapy-treating-the-global-mental-health-crisis/. Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

Stein, Scott. “The Dangers of Virtual Reality.” Cnet, 29 Mar. 2016, www.cnet.com/news/the-dangers-of-virtual-reality/. Accessed 6 Sept. 2016.

“Virtual Reality.” Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University, www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/virtual-reality. Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.


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