Jeff’s Soapbox: Don’t Mess With People Using VR

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Alright, I got something to get off my chest and if you clicked the link, you want to hear it, so here goes. Virtual Reality is the hot new way to play games right now, and there are many ways you can get your hands on a VR headset, whether it’s something like Google Cardboard, or spending the big bucks on an HTC Vive. It is also a relatively NEW way to interact with games. Whenever you see someone in a retail store trying out a headset, there is usually someone standing by with their phone taping them since chances are good they will see a freakout. These freakouts can make for great YouTube videos that I watch to help me get through the work day. These freakouts happen due in large part to what’s actually happening in the game. Perhaps the player is experiencing the roller coaster demo and they are so immersed in the game world that their body moves for no apparent reason due to their mind tricking them into thinking what they see is what is actually happening. Perhaps the freakout comes from a horror game full of jump scares that make the player feel that their life may actually be in danger. This is the beauty of VR, putting the player in a position where they feel totally immersed in the game, which leaves them vulnerable in the real world.

Now if you are the type of person who, upon seeing this vulnerability, takes the opportunity to be physical with the VR player, either by shoving them or tickling them or scaring them, then you are a dick and deserve to be punched in whatever part of your body hurts the most.  Since VR is such a new thing, our bodies have to get used to the baked-in disorientation these kinds of experiences can be. Some of these experiences can induce nausea and things like outside unseen interference can only heighten that sense.

Take THIS CLIP for example, that roller coaster demo is being viewed and the player’s “friend” decides to give him a shove at the top of the coaster, making the player feel like he might actually fall off the coaster and to his death. That may sound ridiculous since he is standing on solid ground that he saw not minutes prior, but the VR experience can be so immersive that your brain and body are tricked to the point where you feel you are actually there. You, sir are a dick!

Horror experiences are plentiful on VR headsets and while some are cheesy and downright bad, others can take your breath away and cause blood curdling screams. Again, if the experience itself is doing that to the player, it accomplished what it set out to do. If those scares come from another person screaming at them or touching them, that person is a dick. That person may have an actual heart attack or need a second to calm down if they hear a sound from something not actually seen in front of them. Again, this may seem like something ridiculous, but it is easy to look from the outside and see nothing, but it’s a whole different story when you put the headset on.

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The HTC Vive, PlayStation VR and eventual Oculus Touch controllers add another element, the waving wands. Essentially the player is blinded from the “real world” and some experiences require the player to swing controllers around in a large area. Get close at your own risk, lest you get smacked in your dumb face by a controller. LEAVE THEM BE! There is enough to worry about when it comes to furniture and hanging lights and whatnot, don’t add to it by essentially being a moving target, they can’t see you, but they will deck you. If it’s me in the headset, I WILL deck you.

This is such a serious thing that many VR game developers have made “Messing With People in VR” grounds for immediate termination.

Of course there is a reason I am bringing this up: I’m getting an Oculus Rift this holiday so I can review, cover and live stream VR games. I’m actually really psyched to start doing that. If I take my Rift off and you are standing there ready to scare me in a clown mask and I drop the Rift out of sheer terror and it breaks, not only am I going to punch you in whatever body part I can reach first, but you are buying me a new Oculus Rift…because you are a dick.

Don’t be a dick.

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