Skyrim’s influence? Virtual reality can affect a person’s sense of reality awareness
In the study, 80 participants (without psychiatric or neurological disorders) were randomized to play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
A new study sheds light on how virtual reality (VR) can affect a person’s sense of reality. The research results are published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
Scientists have found signs that the use of VR technology can cause feelings of alienation in relation to oneself and a feeling of detachment from reality. To better understand the true effects of VR technology, the study authors conducted a longitudinal randomized control trial.
“Because VR is a technology that can greatly influence people’s perception of reality, at least during VR exposure, we wondered if VR could also affect their perception of reality in the real world after VR exposure,” explained study author Niklas. Brown from the University of Bonn.
“After a bit of internet searching, we found several forum posts in which VR players complain about various dissociative symptoms and alienation experiences that come with using VR. This prompted us to conduct a study to find out if VR can actually cause such symptoms of depersonalization and derealization.”
For their study, the researchers randomly selected 80 participants (who did not have psychiatric or neurological disorders) and gave them the task of playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim using a VR head-mounted display or a regular PC monitor.
Brown and colleagues found that depersonalization and derealization tended to be higher immediately after the game among both groups of participants. However, they noticed the greatest manifestation among those who played Skyrim through a VR head-up display.
“Our study shows that half an hour of VR use can cause mild symptoms of depersonalization and derealization, which, however, do not reach clinically significant levels and only appear immediately after VR use,” Brown told PsyPost.
However, Brown noted that it is still unclear whether the symptoms of depersonalization and derealization can occur for a long time, and to what extent the long-term use of VR technology leads to an increase or decrease in the symptoms of depersonalization and derealization.