A full virtual reality experience is a fantasy shared by most people. Being inside the game is the ultimate goal towards realism, but this could play tricks on the brain causing the ‘Inception’ syndrome of video games.
Until we go completely Sci-Fi and have devices tap into our brain like Sword Art Online, we will have to settle for goggles and their movement counterparts. Most people will be able to tell whether they are wearing headsets or strapped into a weird treadmill but some people may find it harder. Someone who suffers from schizophrenia, might not know for certain whether they are still in a virtual world. VR is already used in the military to give training to soldiers, so when it is used by the public are we going to be unconsciously training to be a soldier, like in Metal Gear Solid?Graphics are always improving, at one point they will be completely lifelike, making it again harder to notice what’s real. What happens if someone thinks they’re still in a game, they could: attack people, steal cars or even go round breaking pots, well that’s only a problem if you own an antiques shop. Nonetheless we could see people becoming paranoid about being inside a game or not.
Being able to tell the difference between realities are not the only worries we should have, as no doubt people would want to live in the virtual worlds permanently. We all have days where it’s like the world is against us, yet there are millions of people who feel like this nearly every day. I’m not saying all of these people are going to disappear into the virtual reality, yet there will be a significant amount who will. Not just these people will look for this as a permanent escapism, people who just love it so much are at risk of seeing their real lives abandoned for these ‘new worlds’. People have died because they didn’t want to stop playing games like World of Warcraft, so it’s highly plausible VR will have similar occurrences.
People are going to be a lot more oblivious to the world around them. It’s hard enough to get someone’s attention when their playing a game of Halo, now imagine how hard it will be when they can’t even see you. The goggles and headphones combined mean there will be little awareness for things outside of the game. I already feel sorry for parents trying to get kids to come for dinner. Though, this isn’t really a serious danger, unless getting in to arguments or losing track of time is hazardous to your health.
I am not opposed to virtual reality, I personally can’t wait for the day it is widely in use. VR won’t just cause dangers, as it is already being used in therapy for people who suffer with anxiety, giving them a safe place to confront and understand situations where they usually have panic attacks. Before products like the Oculus Rift become a major part of gaming, we need to make sure there is support in place for potential health risks.