ESL’s Stuart Ewen – VR FPS Games Could Cause Emotional Harm

Stuart Ewen Product Manager at ESL explains how Virtual Reality could cause emotional harm… w/ Mark Register.

Mark – So the Void just debuted their Ghostbusters thing, have you heard of this? So it’s hyper reality where you wear essentially the computer with sensors that when you get shot you feel it. The idea is… it’s kind of an augmented virtual reality where I’m walking around the game in a lazer tag like arena… essentially like one of the maps in Counter Strike. Then you see it, it mixes the tangible world with the virtual reality world.

Are you guys playing with that at all in the future?

Stuart – I don’t think that’s really in our pipeline. We’re more about delivering comfortable viewing experiences.

Personally I haven’t really found that converting a VR headset to wireless so you can move around freely as much as you’d like in a big arena… it’s not quite there yet. The latency is causing issues with motion sickness. If you turn your head your view shifts, even two or three milliseconds later, you’re going to start feeling it. I think it’s a bit further down the road.

For Counter Strike in particular… I think there are some moral challenges that you have to overcome. If you’re so immersed in the game and you’re shooting someone or you’re getting shot… I feel like the immersion for some people might be too much. With getting such a strong physical or emotional reaction from something happening in a fantasy setting… if it were translated more into the real world… I think a lot people might be kind of on edge about that. I don’t think it’s going to be in ESL’s future but I’m sure somebody’s going to do that down the line.

Mark – For a lot of people it’s a very cathartic feeling to play video games that allows them to release stress so they don’t feel violent or whatever, but you’re saying that if it becomes too real, it may cause negative emotions.

Stuart – I can’t speak for others but in my experience playing the virtual reality titles that are out now… it’s intense, it gets your heart going. I haven’t had a better cardio workout in a long time than I have from playing something like Space Pirate Trainer and just the fact that you’re so involved in what you’re playing makes a world of difference. If the setting was realistic enough and had the right elements involved it could cause some emotional harm to people.

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