Can virtual reality gaming be too scared for your own good? That's a question game developers and scientists are pondering about as the virtual reality medium is gaining traction. The New Yorker has written a piece about it and notes that virtual reality gaming is much more intense than flat-screen media, as viewers' brains are tricked into believing that they are physically present in the virtual reality.
Several months ago, Michael Madary and Thomas K. Metzinger, researchers from the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, in Germany, published a series of recommendations on the ethical design and implementation of virtual reality. Their appraisal of the medium’s psychological force is both studious and foreboding. “The power of V.R. to induce particular kinds of emotions could be used deliberately to cause suffering,” they write. “Conceivably, the suffering could be so extreme as to be considered torture.” In filmmaking, the director must perform a kind of seduction of dread, leading viewers through an escalating series of psychological states. In the immersive world of V.R., no such dance is required.