How Will Virtual Reality Change Your Mind’s Consciousness: Getting Lost in Virtual Reality

September 3, 2018
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Virtual reality has found a permanent home in the gaming community and is slowly and steadily edging into the medical field, offering new and innovative ways to treat people suffering from dementia and mobility issues. But how has virtual reality affected our conscious mind? What type of lasting effects does virtual reality have, if any?

Looking at past studies conducted on how virtual reality affects the mind and how it can muddy the lines of true reality and VR, many studies have shown that the avid gamer experiences some level of difficulty in separating VR from real life.

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The Effects of Virtual Reality

Many people believe in the existence of a world that’s beyond the senses, a world that’s only accessible after the death of the human body. But can virtual reality affect our perception of true reality in the same way and the belief in a world other than the reality we’ve always known? What happens when our brains are affected by this type of technology and the new perception of physical parameters that the brain receives with VR?

Keep in mind that the brain is designed to calculate any type of information that’s transmitted by the senses. It’s up to the brain to take this type of information and make sense of it.  Gaming is the number one market for virtual reality and a way for the participant to fully experience a whole new reality. But as virtual reality technology continues to advance, evolving in terms of realism, how can the brain process this type of information and determine virtual reality from true reality, especially considering the addition of the best wearable VR tech, such as the CaptoGlove?

VR has Found A Place in War

For better or worse, VR tech has also been implemented in warfare training. The military currently uses simulated warfare programs that allow soldiers to train and experience realistic battlefields and learn firsthand the dangers of warfare and how to appropriately respond to different types of dangerous situations. This type of tech is definitely invaluable in terms of training new soldiers, giving them a foundation of training that wasn’t possible just five years ago. Studies have shown that this type of exposure may even help to prevent PTSD in soldiers, considering the software can help to desensitize trainees to the effects of war. But is this really possible? Researchers believe it is, while others argue that this type of early exposure, regardless of the fact that it takes place in a safe, controlled environment, can still produce PTSD. The real issue is whether or not the brain is able to determine virtual reality from true reality.

The bottom line here is the fact that training soldiers using virtual reality software programs is simply more cost effective for the military. Additionally, it gives new soldiers a taste of what true warfare is really like, in a highly controlled environment. More research is needed in order to determine how VR will affect the soldier’s conscious mind for the long term.

Gaming

gaming VRAs we have mentioned, the most obvious market for virtual reality is gaming. Gaming in the virtual reality world allows users to experience different realities. Many gamers will readily admit that gaming, whether in 2D or 4D, is highly addictive.

For some, games such as Second Life have seemed to engross players like never before, making it difficult to break away from that reality in order to carry on in their everyday lives. Avid game players have even had difficulty identifying where their virtual reality world ends and the real world begins.

But in truth, everyone tends to experience virtual reality differently.  Even the best VR headsets are not created equal. The Oculus Rift easily trumps lesser known headsets in terms of quality and overall performance, offering a more immersive virtual reality experience that can make those who play for several hours on end have difficulty determining VR from true reality. Because of this, most manufacturers recommend taking a fifteen to thirty-minute break after one hour of gameplay.

Depression and Virtual Reality

With avid gamers, a form of depression is probably one of the most lasting effects of constant VR gameplay. Once the headset comes off, people are forced back into their own, mundane, dreary reality, instead of the exciting, action-packed reality that VR can provide. This type of lingering sadness and disappointment is commonly experienced in gamers who play VR for more than one to two hours a day. This condition is actually known as post-virtual reality sadness. While some psychologists claim this is a form of depression, others feel that it’s more of a sense of detachment to true reality. But post-virtual reality sadness isn’t just a feeling of the blues. There are also some physical symptoms gamers can experience such as poor mental focus, lightheadedness, headaches, and increased fatigue.

This type of detachment can last for several days or even weeks. Researchers attribute it to the brain having difficulty determining virtual reality from true reality, in people who normally gamed for several hours a day.

This type of ongoing detachment and depression does not affect every gamer. Instead, it seems to target individuals who are normally socially withdrawn.

Final Thoughts

As virtual reality continues to advance in terms of graphics quality and the ultimate virtual reality experience, more gamers will flock to this type of gameplay.

Yet, more research is needed to determine how virtual reality can affect the conscious mind whether for the short term or long term. The type of detachment and depression described by some avid gamers is common in any individual who consciously withdraws from society. Virtual reality certainly isn’t to blame for a person’s antisocial behavior, however, it does seem to make it easier for introverts to continue to avoid social situations and instead, create their own realities, places in which they feel more comfortable and at ease in their environment.

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