If virtual reality is the gateway to the Metaverse, and the Metaverse is all about social interaction, then how might our interpersonal relationships change? It’s worth thinking about since humans are (for the most part) incredibly social creatures and our wellbeing and creativity thrives off other human interactions. An artificial filter, no matter how realistic, which effectively shuts off sight of the real world would surely impact this.
As virtual reality (VR) technology enters mainstream markets, it is crucial that we understand its potential impacts on users, both positive and negative. In the present paper, we build on the extant literature’s focus on the physical side effects of VR gameplay (e.g., cybersickness) by focusing on VR’s potential to intensify users’ experiences of negative emotions. We first conducted a preliminary survey to assess users’ emotional responses during VR gameplay, with the results suggesting that certain VR situations can in fact produce intense negative emotional experiences. We then designed an interactive scenario intended to elicit low to moderate amounts of negative emotion, wherein participants played out the scenario in either VR (using the HTC Vive) or on a laptop computer. Compared to the participants who enacted the scenario on the laptop, those in the VR condition reported higher levels of absorption, which in turn increased the intensity of their negative emotional response to the scenario. A follow-up questionnaire administered several hours later revealed that the intensified negative emotions resulting from VR had a significant positive correlation with negative rumination (i.e., harmful self-related thoughts related to distress). These results show that VR gameplay has the potential to elicit strong negative emotional responses that could be harmful for users if not managed properly. We discuss the practical and policy implications of our findings.
If you’re looking for a truly immersive gaming experience that will allow you to leave the real world behind, virtual reality (VR) will allow you to do just that. These gaming applications can help you experience places and events that go far beyond our real-world environment by permitting players to exist within a three-dimensional artificial world.
The human brain can adapt quickly. When you’re in the VR world, it can take as few as half-hour to lose your sense of spatial awareness in this one. Your brain may be able to quickly adapt to inhabiting the virtual world, but your body will still remain in this actuality—and so will the walls you can walk into and slip, trip, and fall hazards, and people you may punch in the face.
As virtual reality continues to soar in popularity, so do cases where the use of VR resulted in injury. Gaming in the virtual reality world is not without its risks, and this article will explain why.
The Risks of Virtual Reality
Users of virtual reality games have reported a host of troubling effects, including damage to their vision, disorientation, and even seizures. In addition to this, the use of VR carries a very real risk of injury. Players have suffered from broken bones, torn ligaments, and even electric shocks.
Augmented reality uses similar technology to virtual reality, but rather than creating an entirely virtual world it adds virtual elements to the world around us. You may assume since you can still see where you’re going while you’re playing augmented reality games, but the truth is many people have been injured.
Pokemon Go is a popular augmented reality game that has already seen more than its share of injuries among its users. Take a look at the following examples to see the variety of ways these injuries can occur.
- A man who was playing Pokemon Go while he was driving ran into a police car.
- A distracted man was robbed while he was playing Pokemon Go.
- A distracted man was assaulted while he was playing Pokemon Go.
- Two distracted men fell off a cliff when they were walking while playing Pokemon Go.
- A man who was speeding while playing Pokemon Go crashed his car.
According to one study, in Tippecanoe County, Indiana alone, researchers attributed 134 car accidents that included two fatalities to the game. When they calculated what this could look like in relation to the United States as a whole, they estimated that the game could have been a contributing factor in 150,000 accidents and 256 deaths.
Virtual Reality and Personal Injury Law
There have been many personal injury lawsuits filed against Nintendo over injuries that resulted from playing Pokemon Go, but manufacturers may not be the only potentially liable parties in these cases. Certainly in cases like the examples above to some extent the liability rests with the player.
In the case of virtual reality injuries, the player could be liable. For example, they fell while using the game but they fell over a hazard in their own home. The manufacturer could also be liable for not adequately studying the psychological ramifications and long term side effects of using this technology.
When you use virtual reality, you typically agree to terms that state that you understand and accept the potential risks of using the product. Not everyone who is injured as a result of VR has signed a waiver, however, as would be the case when someone is hurt in an accident that someone who was using VR caused. You can visit this link for help if injured by the product.
Some factors that could affect liability in virtual reality injury cases include whether the injury occurred on private or public property and whether or not the design of the headset was a factor. It is also possible that an injury could be caused by a problem in the product’s manufacturing or design.
When it comes to virtual reality, warning labels alone may not be enough to keep players safe. It’s important to use common sense whenever you’re using VR, but it is also imperative that designers and manufacturers consider how their products are likely to be used and address any safety issues before they are released to the public.
Using VR for long periods can also cause physical harm. Nausea or “cybersickness” is well known and due to the fact that you may be moving in the simulation, but your body is not physically moving in the real world. Your brain gets confused.
Aside from this, users have been known to experience eye soreness. VR headset designers “have yet to create a lens that mimics the wide-angle our eyes naturally have, so this can be a problem if used for long periods of time,” Moates says. “The continual abuse of VR may cause long term impairment of vision, however, not much study surrounds this.”
His prescription for these physical harms which may only affect a minority of users, is to moderate VR usage and take plenty of breaks.
Tally this up and it seems the positives outweigh the downsides, but there’s a long way to go before VR achieves anything like mass market adoption. For now it’s a niche tool, with positive use cases, but one among many ways to experience something a little different.
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