Within the last few years, we have begun to normalize gaming not just as a hobby, but as potentially a very fruitful career path. The world of video games has evolved far past the original Nintendo or Sega, and is continuously getting more advanced in many different facets. In the mix of good and bad info, we’re going to dive into the positive side effects of virtual reality.
In recent years, there has been research and study into the idea of potential benefit from playing virtual reality games, and if they can even have positive side effects. From assessing memory recall, memorization, quick reaction time and simply continuing to challenge the brain, there are more and more findings that virtual reality video games may in fact provide some amount of benefit to the brain and overall health.
It’s easy to wonder if there are negative side effects, and we will definitely cover both sides of the spectrum. However, like most things, doing them in moderation and reason can have a net positive depending on the type of game(s) being played. Some will provide more physical than mental benefit and vice-versa. Continue reading to see where virtual reality lands on the health and wellness spectrum.
What Are The Positives and Negatives of Virtual Reality?
Throughout this section, we will be highlighting some of the positive and negative aspects of virtual reality. Most things with benefit have the potential to produce the opposite, so it’s no surprise that we’ll be addressing the same here. But in that same manner, when done properly in moderation, we are able to limit risk a bit more
Since virtual reality is usually physically active for the user, a lot of games can end up turning into a surprisingly good workout. For example, there are boxing VR games that people play, where they are ducking and moving around quickly, throwing punches and moving quickly in various directions. Do enough rounds in the virtual arena and your heart rate is gonna be through the roof! Before you know it, you’ve gotten a solid workout from gaming.
Improved Mental Health
With social anxiety, therapists would recreate the types of situations that would give their patients anxiety, but would train them on how to handle it. Sometimes people just need a little coaching on how to react in certain social situations, so being able to recreate those without consequence becomes a very convenient and powerful tool to therapists.
A similar approach has been used to help treat certain phobias. Say someone is terrified of crowds, they might lose their minds trying to get on a crowded subway. With VR, the therapist can slowly increase the population of people in each session while training the patient to navigate and make peace with their fear of crowds.
It’s pretty remarkable how far tech has come and how it can help improve the daily lives of others, especially in a manner of one’s health. VR is not just about gaming, it could get to the point of being a widely used method of therapy.
Muscle Reaction and Quick Decision Making
When you’re in a virtual reality game, you have to have quick reactions and responses. Sometimes you’re playing a sports game or in a shooter game. You don’t want to drive a bad ball on the links, but you don’t want to get shot and be out of the game either. Virtual reality will be a little more demanding than traditional video games with a handheld controller.
Other games may be time sensitive where you only have so much time to complete a task. You can’t take too long thinking about which path to take or which character is an enemy. This forces you to think critically and do it fast to ensure you have a good score.
It’s not news that staring at screens for too long can cause eye strain and potentially long term eye damage. Whether it’s computers, phones or video games, screens are not great for our eye health. Now, it’s almost unavoidable for most jobs to not stare at a screen, but since virtual reality is inches away from your eyes, it’s a little more intense than a computer screen. It’s recommended to take a 10 to 15 minute break every 30 minutes of playing time.
Virtual reality obviously has its differences from traditional video games, but the proximity of the screen to your face is one of the biggest ones. When you’re playing normal video games, you can be 10 feet away while you play from the comfort of your couch. Yes, too much screen time is damaging, but at least you have a little space between yourself and the TV.
Virtual reality is only inches away from your eyes. This has the potential to cause disorientation with its users and upset their ability to understand depth perception. Because they were so close to the screen for so long, real life might be disorienting, causing people to not realize how close or far away something is.
Give it a go!
All in all, I think there could be more benefit than harm when it comes to virtual reality. Yes, it is very easy to overdo it on video games, especially when they start getting as real as virtual reality. It adds to the fun and excitement, and takes you from the couch to the actual arena. However, the most attractive thing about it is just that: it gets people off the couch. It can help challenge peoples’ minds who might not otherwise get as much, and can help people do some of the things they’ve dreamed of doing.
So if you’re on the fence about virtual reality, see if they have a game based around something that you enjoy and give it a try. You never know, you might end up falling in love with what VR can do for you.