Virtual reality is big these days, and dangerous as all get out, at least in my arrogant opinion, because the fact of the matter is, it’s unreal. Killing a dozen people during the course of one’s favorite video game is very, very different from the blood, and screams, and smell, of mass murder.
And while I’ve never committed mass murder, and never will, and I’ve never experienced it first hand, you can trust me on this.
What I have experienced quite a lot of is human physical trauma, within the context of an emergency room and career in health care, and I can promise, to experience the Reality of it, the sight, the sounds, the smells, is so vastly different from a computer game, or even a violent film (no smells there, nope) or photograph of genuine physical violence, it cannot be adequately described.
Computer games don’t tend to cause PTSD, not like war does, not at all.
One of the most horrific things I ever encountered was the sound made by broken bones grinding against each other inside someone’s legs, and I promise, I encountered some really horrific stuff. What most stuck with me in the autopsy I watched was the smell of it, a lot like a butcher shop. There’s a reason that live animals and real bodies are used in educating folks for a life in health care.
But what brings this to mind is one of the “computer games” I’ve played in life, one designed to exercise our minds, improve our cognitive abilities, not one aimed at making us mindless killers, which oddly enough seems to be what lots of them do, this one was trying to train me to work at Starbucks, and oddly enough, I totally suck at it.
The reason I find that odd is not because I suck at it, I suck at several games, like, the remember this person’s name game, I mean, I figured out a way to do it, I just wrote their names down, along with a brief description, and they rarely changed their clothes or facial expressions, if ever, so that was easy enough, but then I decided that that was kind of cheating, that if I was a real waitress or whatever I was, I’d learn the names of the regulars by talking to them, and doing word/name association, so I quit that game, it bored me, but I don’t quit all that I suck at, I like some of them, but because back when I was a med tech, back to that career in health care, the task at hand was not all that different from the task of the coffee shop person, and I just totally rocked it.
Multi-tasking, that’s the point of the coffee shop game, and it was the point of the med tech game, fast and accurate multi-tasking, and in real life I rocked it, I mean, I even had all the tubes of blood arranged by size and anticoagulant type (if any) and time of test and all leaning the same direction, neatly, in the rack, everybody else tended to have chaos at their station, and virtually, I totally suck at it.
Not med teching, coffee service, although it’s been a long time since I’ve med teched.
But my suckitude is because the VR version is about clicking a mouse, moving from one spot to another with my fingertips, keeping track of “orders” without the mindlessly simple tool of an order pad, or these days at the fast food joints (and probably Starbucks, I don’t much Starbucks) a screen with all the orders on it in front of one’s face, and even if there was one, an order pad, my fingertips would be too busy mousing the appropriate spots on the computer screen to use it.
So, no matter how good a kid might be at mindlessly killing the bad guy on that computer screen, if he does it in real life, it’s probably going to be pretty darned traumatic, for everyone involved.
This is the problem with virtual reality. What reality do we want to create? I’ll certainly go with the coffee shop over the battlefield, any day.