Is Virtual Reality a Threat?

Technology is rapidly advancing.  In the last 15 years, we have seen gaming evolve from 3-D animations to life-like environments.  It’s breath-taking if you think about it.  We possess the capacity to upgrade our various forms of entertainment, but will it be our downfall? Virtual reality is becoming the new trend in gaming.  How does it work?  Gamers would wear these specialized headsets that projects the environment around them.  However, different companies have them hooked to computers or televisions.  Tech like the Oculus Rift, or even the other headsets Samsung has designed, can easily be bought online for a couple hundred dollars.

However, there have been issues concerning the use of virtual reality in gaming.  Yes, it fully immerses the player into the game and changes the dynamic of the game play.  But what happens when parents buy their children a violent game and watch their child immerse themselves into it?  It’s already an issue that ten-year olds are running around Call of Duty screaming profanities, or even car jacking in Grand Theft Auto.

And that’s another thing.  GTA V is one of the games that can be played with a virtual reality headset.  Now, playing GTA with a controller is different than witnessing it first hand.  Spencer Campbell of Hard Core Gamer talked about this experience, “There’s something eerie about literally walking into a store, looking down the sights of a gun and into the eyes of a store clerk, even if it is all virtual.  It immediately creates a narrative between assailant and victim that wasn’t there when viewing the game through the window of a TV screen.”

“He’s no longer an Apu-esque caricature, and it’s my personal choice whether to kill him or not.  The screams of nearby civilians immediately following the gunshots solidified the terror perpetrated by player actions in my mind.  I was, and even thinking about it days after initially seeing it still am, deeply disturbed.” The point of gaming is to a create surreal experience, not a realistic one.  Having a controller reminds the gamer that they’re playing a game, not living their life in a world that won’t feed or clothe them.  Already there are issues with game addicts who find it hard to disconnect.

Virtual reality has also impacted the social environment.  People find themselves communicating more through the Internet, to the point that virtual sex is a reality.  Movies like Surrogates or the Matrix demonstrate this concept.  There is also the fear that the more we invest in this technology, the more disconnected we find ourselves from society.

Virtual reality has the capacity to revitalize old problems.  While most people will have the common sense to get up and walk around the neighborhood, others will find themselves glued to the couch.  The point of gaming is to give us a break from reality, not live in a new one.