The patients who fully tested out their fears in virtual reality by lowering their defences showed very substantial reductions in their paranoid delusions. After the virtual reality therapy session, over 50% of these patients no longer had severe paranoia at the end of the testing day.
There were even benefits for those who confronted situations they feared in virtual reality while still using their defences: around 20% of this group no longer having severe paranoia at the end of the testing day.
The rich resources of these virtual worlds, coupled with the educational version of the game, allow teachers to immerse young people in a comfortable but exciting learning environment. Minecraft has the ability to bring just about any conceivable structure to the classroom, bedroom or sofa of every player.
Creating complex structuresOne of the types of structure I’m particularly passionate is that of proteins. These tiny molecular machines fascinate me. They control just about every biological process in your cells and knit your body together. From replicating your DNA and forming the bases of your skin, hair and connective tissue, to digesting food, fighting infections and transporting oxygen around your blood, proteins do it all.
Waves of Grace is the second in a series of short films made in collaboration with VR video app Vrse and filmmaker Chris Milk (and some funding from VICE). It’s an effort to use virtual reality to connect people with real life in the strife-ridden parts of the world that too often remain distant and abstract. Even with the limitations of current VR gear, it’s damn effective, enough that it’s easy to talk about the film as though it were an actual experience. Decontee Davis’s voice was in my ear as I stood at the side of a hospital bed, where she sat with a patient for whom human contact was no longer a part of everyday life. I visited a dusty schoolyard where children sang and glanced warily at me. I stood at the foot of an open grave as anonymous men in white suits lowered a body bag, so close I could almost feel it brush my knees.
It’s a problem that the video game industry has had for some time: the conflation of “realism” with maturity. The more plausible your graphics are, the more dignified your stupid ghost slime murder boobs story will be. Much as it is today, many of these plays for “realism”—especially the hunger for a legitimacy that might come with expensive Hollywood actors—actually makes worse games out of unsustainable development budgets. There’s a reason that “FMV games” never ‘stuck’.
You step into an early build of The Magic Circle as a player getting a sneak peek, but even this demo is still in flux, and the world changes around you. It’s a joke at the expense of Steam’s controversial Early Access program, where players can willingly buy unfinished games to play them as they develop, paying in full even if they’re never finished. Early Access games can be trainwrecks, and The Magic Circle is no exception.
The “demo” only lasts a few minutes, additional quests are removed for budgetary reasons, and the boss fight is quite pointless considering the fact that Gilder took your sword away, afraid that you’ll use it to murder innocent AI characters. The developers are represented by gigantic floating David Bowie eyes, gods of this unfinished world, bickering over creative decisions and dramatic word choices.
But there is something deep inside the game calling for help, a lonely AI created for one of The Magic Circle’s earliest versions that needs you to break the cycle and end its living hell. As you embark on a new quest to save this AI, it gives you the ability to hack the world around you, reprogram enemies, and revive vapourware against Gilder’s will. If there seems to be a platform too far away, you can give turtles the gift of flight and hop along them. If you want to get real creative, you can steal a teleporter’s niche and warp around reprogrammed mushrooms. Catch a plant queen off guard by giving a rat a railgun. Revive a sci-fi DOS-era version of the game to send the mighty Gilder into a panic.
It was always my hope, in writing novels and stories which asked the question “What is reality?”, to someday get an answer. This was the hope of most of my readers, too. Years passed. I wrote over thirty novels and over a hundred stories, and still I could not figure out what was real. One day a girl college student in Canada asked me to define reality for her, for a paper she was writing for her philosophy class. She wanted a one-sentence answer. I thought about it and finally said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” That’s all I could come up with. That was back in 1972. Since then I haven’t been able to define reality any more lucidly.
\When Cardboard was announced last year, it was largely seen as a fun experiment so anyone can try out virtual reality on the cheap, but with an SDK, hardware certification program, iOS support and now Jump and Expeditions, it’s clear Google wants to make VR a meaningful part of our everyday lives. It says a lot that two of my favorite VR experiences so far happened using a $20 piece of paper with a couple of lenses.
What makes Departure stand out isn’t just its involved storyline, but its surprisingly slick special effects. She’s been collaborating with a visual effects house in the United Kingdom on “making Departure an even bigger project,” and also working on getting the series into virtual reality. While there’s been no official release, at least one eager fan has already found a way to view the two-dimensional video through a VR player.Maque has other virtual reality ASMR experiences in the works as well, including one designed specifically for VR devices. She and Dekotora have co-founded a media network called PixelWhipt, where they plan to create more VR content that combines the intimate sensory experience of ASMR with the immersion of headsets like the Oculus Rift.
Although there are already lots of two-dimensional games aimed at healing, virtual reality offers a level of sensory immersion and escapism that could have unique therapeutic potential for dealing with anxiety, mental illness and trauma. Although there’s already a lot of doomsday fingerwagging about how VR technology will turn people into Ready Player One shut-ins, there’s also an opportunity to create profound therapeutic experiences like the one that Reid described.
The Purdue study divided 43 undergraduate volunteers into two groups. The first group went through two unmodified virtual reality demos on Oculus Rift development kits, while the other went through the same demos with the virtual nose placed where a real nose would appear in front of the environmental view. The “nasum virtualis” group lasted an average of 94.2 seconds longer in a simulated walk-around on a Tuscan villa before feeling sick and lasted 2.2 seconds longer on average in a roller coaster simulation.