Could Highly Immersive Virtual Reality Come With Side Effects?
Studies have shown that some gamers who play games on PC and console for an extended period of time are susceptible to hallucinations and flashbacks. The question being asked now is whether the fully immersive virtual reality games could be worse.
Virtual reality technology is still a wonder to many and the experience can be amazing but it is still early years for this technology and they have yet to master the seamless bond with the brain and its perceptions. Some people have reported feeling sick after using the headsets for a period of time.
Virtual Reality Studies Are Being Conducted
Psychologist Angela Ortiz de Gortari is the lead research person on this study of the effects of virtual reality and she coined the term Game Transfer Phenomenon or GTP. This phenomenon describes that feeling you get after a prolonged session of gaming. Kind of like a cognitive hangover.
“Without a doubt, highly immersive technologies for entertainment bring exciting possibilities for the users — I’m a big fan! — but also raises important questions regarding the impact on their well-being,” said Oritz de Gortari, currently a research fellow with the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K.
She conducted a study at Nottingham Trent University with co-author Mark D. Griffiths and she gave 2000 gamers a survey with questions relating to GTP.
GTP can come in a variety of ways. It might come as a spectral tetris block falling behind one’s eyes just before sleep or come as a more advanced way like the sensation of walking through dungeon passageways on a walk around the house. This experience comes largely with respect to the nature of the game in question. In extreme cases, the person might experience actual hallucinations of specific game scenarios and settings in the real world. Sometimes the body can even involuntarily react to these virtual ghosts.
In the study she conducted, about 97 percent reported actually having hallucinations and flashbacks which were related to extended gaming sessions. Over 50 percent said they experienced sensations of movement and another 44 percent indicated having involuntary body reflex actions that were associated with gaming. The effects of VR gaming on people is a question that needs to be answered and it is one that Ortiz de Gortari and other researchers are very interested in.
Before now, highly immersive virtual reality technology has been restricted to academic, therapeutic and military applications but with the launch of the Oculus Rift and its likes, the landscape has changed totally. These devices have brought hyper-realistic virtual reality into our homes for the first time.
“Individual susceptibility is crucial,” Ortiz de Gortari said. “But I believe that GTP will become more common as technology becomes more persuasive, more immersive and stimulates more sensorial channels.”
“It’s important to note that GTP episodes aren’t necessarily dangerous or negative,” Oritz de Gortari said. “Usually, they’re just weird and funny. In the survey, only 20 percent of those surveyed said they were distressed by their experiences with GTP.”