Sean Buckley of Engadget had an interesting experience with a VR game called Hover Junkers. He was standing on a hover craft, pointing his revolver at another player character. She put one hand up as if to say stop, but he didn’t understand what her other hand was doing.
She raised up her gun to her own head, even as he lowered his gun, and fired. She had committed suicide, in the game. Understandably he grimaced and reacted with a loud “that is not okay.”
Buckley’s experience raises a lot of questions about the reality of virtual reality.
While suicide isn’t a feature in Hover Junkers, it is a side effect after the realistic approach they’ve taken. This game is entirely driven by inverse kinematics (IK) which means that the system is being controlled through your body, you’re basically driving a puppet. This makes every character encountered have more “soul” then normal computer generated characters in a game.
The moral dilemma the developers ran into, was the realism of shooting items. If you point to a player and shoot, as is the point of the game, you shoot them, but if you put the gun to your head, what should happen? Apparently this was a big enough deal that the developers actually debated how real it should be.
It’s a bit of a lose/lose situation, because, it doesn’t teach a good lesson if you put a gun to your head and pull the trigger and nothing happens, but if something does happen, that’s not good either.
This brings up the question of how real VR should be. It’ll also cause players to really think about what their doing. The affect of callousness embedded in consistent gamers may not be good for society, but it might actually be.
We just don’t know yet. If that experience is an indication of how real games are about to be, I’m happy to embrace a little hesitation in shooting.