Can Virtual Reality Actually Hurt You?

Can Virtual Reality Actually Hurt You?

Virtual Reality almost certainly won't kill you, but it has a fairly good chance of making you queasy, at least at first.

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Four separate attempts at using the Rift - never for more than a few minutes for obvious reasons - have left me reeling with dizziness. If I 'stand still' in the VR sim or look around slowly, I was okay. Moving forward against a deep space backdrop with a cockpit anchoring my view was fine and real cool. But turning my head too quickly was bad, and glancing down and sideways at my left hand (a reflex as I was grasping an accelerator joystick) nearly made me fall out of the chair. Moving ten virtual steps forward in Half Life 2 had me lurching around like a drunk. I do have an inner ear disorder, though, and get motion sickness easily. Like Shamus, it didn't feel like actual motion sickness - no nausea, headache or queaziness - just disorientation and vertigo. Unlike Shamus, the sensation disappeared as soon as I took the set off and managed to fix my eye on a stable target for a few seconds.

VR probably won't be for me. My significant other has been hooked into it like he's been plugged into the bloody Matrix for the past week, though, so I expect I'm in the minority.

Just thinking about Descent makes me sick.

"I suppose you could hurt yourself taking a bad step in Dance Dance Revolution. Still, gaming is usually recognized as a really safe activity. Statistically, I'm sure gaming is safer than walking around a city or cooking dinner, in terms of hours-to-injuries."

How about RSI/Carpal Tunnel?

And let us never forget the Resident Evil 4 chainsaw controller!!! Oh, the horror, the horror!!!!

And even if they get it right this is still going to be a very niche tech (unless the price-point drops considerably because most people do not feel comfortable wearing what amounts to a sensory deprivation hood while playing. a game.

VR shooters will have a way slower walking speed than Half-Life 2, that's for sure. The more twitchy you need to be, the more disconnect you feel with your inner ear. Dear Esther, on the other hand, would work fine.

I wonder how VR shooters will handle the aiming. I guess the best solution would be to incorporate motion wands, like the WiiMote, so you can use your hands to aim naturally instead of using the mouse or your eyes (unless you're playing a superman simulator and firing eye lasers).

I'm really hoping for a decent adaptation of immersive titles like Mirror's Edge, and as has been commented, simulators with a cockpit anchoring your frame of reference will most certainly work, particularly car games.

Of course I'm the sort of sick bastard who would try to hook up the device to an adapted version of the original DooM, thus becoming a very sick bastard (Although DooM3 with its atmosphere, could be cool, same for Penumbra/Amnesia)

About Half-Life 2; Most people, who speak of its simulation sickness status, seem to agree that the absolute worst bit, is the loading screens, where the view abruptly, and without warning, ceases to update - leaving you with the last frame rendered indeed "glued to your face". :7

Other than the retrofitting artifacts, it is amazing how well the design language that went into HL2 lends itself to adapting the game for VR. The almost unbroken player control and narrative, the way the environment tells much of the story, the tricks that had to be employed, given the previous points, to attract the player's attention towards points of interest, and so on.

Descent always felt like the perfect game for VR. Few games made me actually think in the sphere of direction I was floating in. That said, I imagine when the cockpit gets slammed by some rocket and everything shakes and you don't it might a trigger for VR sickness.

I broke my hand once playing Soul Caliber IV, long story short I got my ass kicked online and stood up pissed as hell (fuck Yoda) and tripped over a pair of shoes. I landed on the knuckles of my right hand which was quite stupidly still holding onto my controller instead of dropping it to brace for impact. A night of intense pain and an ER visit later and I had a boxer's fracture.
Anyway more OT: I wonder if this will keep Hideo Kojima from ever making a VR Metal Gear as he's already stated that just playing a game in first person makes him sick. Actually if I remember correctly that seems to be a trend with Japanese gamers and devs which means we may not see anything from Japan for VR for a while yet. Or at least it won't catch on well. Of course my information could be out of date and wrong.

What do I care for your suffering?
Pain, even agony is no more than information before the senses,
Data fed to the computer of the mind.
The lesson is simple, you have received the information,
Now act on it.
Take control of the input,
and you shall become master of the output.

-Sheng-Ji Yang, Essays on Mind and Matter

More directly on topic, yes, it can potentially cause epileptic fits and harm those with similar disorders as well as the VR sickness you discussed. As the technology becomes more advanced and more integrated with the human body, the potential for harm increases as well.

Oskuro:
I wonder how VR shooters will handle the aiming. I guess the best solution would be to incorporate motion wands, like the WiiMote, so you can use your hands to aim naturally instead of using the mouse or your eyes (unless you're playing a superman simulator and firing eye lasers).

Some people have modded Receiver to take advantage of both the Oculus as well as the Hydra controller.

Rats! This one doesn't sound promising for me. I get motion sickness simply from playing Half Life 2 on a normal computer. I recently found I can't play Red Dead Redemption either, unless I'm willing to play the entire game on-foot. Horseback makes me nauseous.

I haven't handled any new VR stuff, but I would like to share this.

I have a epileptic disorder, which involves petit mal seizures. Strobes and lights don't seem to bother me, but the VR sickness you described sounds familiar. Occasionally, I will feel my perceptions... fluctuate, is the word I want to say. Like looking through a funhouse mirror. Random objects I will perceive as farther or closer than I know they should be. On one memorable occasion I even felt like my empty hands each held a 20 lb. weight.

The reason I share this is I've learned that those same tricks for curing VR sickness made it go away.

 

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