Virtual Escape

The concept of virtual reality has been around for a long time. The article Seeing is Believing: The State of Virtual Reality by Matthew Schnipper does a great job of covering the history behind this “new” technology. It is very interesting that VR has tried multiple times throughout the past three decades but due to the limitation of virtual graphics until recently. However one point in the article stood out to me above the others.

The article describes what VR promises to be very similar to what drugs offer users, being able to experience something amazing without ever moving or leaving their home. Throughout the article terms like “getting high” are used to describe VR. I am aware that this was far from the main point of the article, and not the beliefs of the article, but this argument used by people against virtual reality really got me thinking. The idea of virtual reality is an amazing one, but it is, like the use of robots, connected to many negative emotions in people. The article touches on the movie Lawnmower Man which is a film about virtual reality in which a man who is being treated for his mental disorders with virtual reality becomes engulfed in the fake world and eventually turns God-like in it. The creator of the Oculus explains that movies often portray VR as something negative because it is more interesting to watch not because it is actually like that. I think that comparing the goal of virtual reality to drugs is a very large stretch and that people making that connection misunderstand. The main thing that separates the two is the interactivity and developmental side of games and by extension VR. The goal of VR is not to sit around mindlessly, it is to give the opportunity for people to go to places they never could and experience things they just can’t in real life. In these worlds of the games people are faced with problems that they must use their mental skills to learn to solve. Unlike just taking drugs this can be used as a tool to help people learn and grow while having fun. But there is a flip side to this if VR is used by an individual to escape the world that they are in then this could have a negative effect on that person, but this can be said of just about anything and therefore cannot be the standard by which we judge VR. People need to learn to not fear what is new and to understand new things and how we should use them rather than focusing on the negative ways that we could use it. I do believe that people should get out and experience the world, but this does not mean that something like Virtual Reality does not also have its own place in the world. This article told many different stories of individuals who were inspired and worked to help create a dream, and I don’t think they are after something as simple as a mindless high.

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