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Will VR hurt real social interaction?

by on14 July 2014 1441 times

Recently a comment from former Valve contractor, Fabian Giesen that VR is “bad news” brought up an interesting point. On the surface the technology has some interesting implications for making gaming, multi-media and even social networking more interactive and engaging. However, there is a much darker side to this technology that might escape the eye because of the flashy parts.

One of these possible problems is simply human nature. If you have been around for a while you might have noticed that humans can become addicted to just about anything. Internet and gaming addictions are very common and have even resulted in deaths when people forget to stop and eat, drink, sleep etc.

This is happening with relatively primitive systems and in a faux-3D world projected by a flat surface. Millions of people became addicted to World of Warcraft when it hit and we still see that addictive behavior with sites like Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr etc. Now imagine if those environments were able to actually pull you inside. Remember that Facebook now owns their own VR company and wants to build a social media MMORG with that technology at is core (imagine what they will collect then…)

This is the fear that some people have, VR technology is an isolation technology because it has to be. In order to really put you in the game or other environment you have to be isolated from the rest of reality. If someone is already looking for an escape through gaming, social media or other then this will put them even further from the real world as they can truly cut everything else out.

If this sounds like the script for a bad movie, it should. This concept has been explored on several occasions in film and TV. Sadly it has also been shown to be a real danger especially during brain development (children). Real social interaction is an important part of our psyche and also normal health. Maybe developers also need to build in some type of system to remind users to take a break for things like food, water etc. or we might see more harm come from this than good.

Do not get me wrong, I think VR is a cool concept and a great enhancement to gaming. It is just that there is also a down side to it that I think many people are overlooking. In the end VR is like any new tech of device. There are always going to be people that will abuse it and also that will not get how to use it safely.

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Last modified on 14 July 2014
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