Monday, December 10, 2012

Virtual Reality Exposure

I think we talked about this in class but would virtual reality simulations be qualified as a game? They after all have rules constructed by their coders so maybe it could fit into a subcategory of game. We also have been talking about how games can cause "gamer addiction." However, through "virtual reality exposure," games can actually help people with psychological disorders.

In my psychology class we have been discussing psychotherapy methods to treat psychological disorders like phobias, post traumatic stress disorder, etc. One method is called flooding where a person is exposed all at once to their greatest fear without any negative consequences (if afraid of heights they might go to the top of a building but be perfectly safe). This idea of flooding can be taken further by exposing a person (for one to several hours) to a virtual reality simulation with their greatest fears like battle zones (PTSD), flying, spiders, etc. This helps people not avoid their fears (for psychologists avoidance leads to negative reinforcement which continues undesirable patterns of behavior) and eventually learn to face them.

The benefit of having a simulation is that exposure can be done multiple times without the cost or danger of doing it in real life. For example, flying would get expensive and time consuming. Also when treating PTSD, it  is safer to simulate a battlezone rather than to go to an actual one.

I know by summarizing I probably left out some details, but please weigh in on what you think. Do simulations count as games if they help people in this way?


  1. Post #8

    I don't think I would personally consider these virtual reality simulators to be games, mainly because they aren't used in recreational settings. Even though they may have rules and strategies for accomplishing goals, they aren't "played" for fun. I don't think the doctors or the patients who use these programs would consider them games, mainly because they are used as therapies for disorders that are very serious. Perhaps if these programs were used outside of the medical world, they may be considered by some people as games, but the way in which you describe them here makes it seem as though they shouldn't or aren't considered to be a part of game play.

  2. I think it depends, do these virtual reality simulators have a specific goals and tasks that need to be achieved? Do people enjoy engaging in this? I think i agree with Layne in that these simulators should not be considered gaming because they are not played for fun but instead used for treatment.
    But what do you mean by virtual reality simulators? Because by definition, it is just software that imitates a kind of reality that we can relate to and we can see that many games "simulate" reality such as driving games in arcades. Are they not virtual reality simulators? But I think what you are thinking about is not exactly the same, and its purpose is not to be a game.

  3. Blog #14: A Response to "Virtual Reality Exposure"

    I suppose it depends on whether you are using the term "game" to refer to a medium of communication or as a piece of art. For example, a training video that you have to watch at your place of work is a movie. But, that doesn't necessarily make it art. I do think the virtual reality games you describe are games, but I'm agnostic on the question of their artistic merit. Do they have distinct obstacles, feedback mechanisms, clear rules, etc? If all of the fundamental components are there, then I would have to say that they are examples art.