Many of us see advances in technology, and specifically gaming, as counterproductive to general wellness.
That’s certainly not always the case. But we tend to have a perception that technology is, on some level, unhealthy in that it draws us away from each other, from activity, and even from the ‘real world’ and occupies us in ways that are somewhat unnatural.
There’s something to be said for this point of view, at least when taken broadly. That said, however, it’s important not to blindly accept that technological advancement is unhealthy. Consider, for instance, the rise of virtual reality.
VR has been the premier tech phenomenon of 2017 (even if it began to emerge well before this year). And while it can seem as if it’s primarily a newer and more absorbing medium for video games, there are actually ways in which it can and does promote wellness.
Gaming Is Made Social Once More
It’s easy to imagine that gaming in VR is inherently antisocial. We already picture gamers as being glued to screens, ignoring the world around them in favour of imagined realities; VR just makes those realities more convincing.
This is true, but it also ignores the true potential of VR to turn online multiplayer activity into a truly communal experience. An article about great innovations in new ideas for VR interestingly pointed to ‘personal avatars’ as some of the things we’ll be seeing.
This means that at least in theory players will be able to design digital versions of themselves, which will in turn interact in virtual environments. It’s still a far cry from reality, but it’s actually very social. From a standpoint considering human interaction and social development, it’s actually closer to progress than regression. In this way even VR gaming might promote wellness.
Exercise Becomes More Appealing
One of the biggest problems that people face when attempting to better their fitness or become more active is that they get bored. Naturally, getting in shape is difficult; but even when you’re in good enough shape to run, bike, or otherwise train regularly, the monotony of it all can be discouraging, and ultimately lead to the breakdown of a routine.
This could all change because of virtual reality.
There are already stories circulating about what virtual reality exercise can do, and this is before very many specific programmes are even developed. The idea of pairing VR with cycling machines, ellipticals, and even brand new training machines suggests a whole new style of workout that will be engaging and appealing thanks to VR integration. If we can be made to feel that we’re exploring new environments or even playing our way through gaming scenarios while working out, we may just be more inclined to exercise regularly.
Mental Health Treatments May Be Revolutionised
Perhaps the most exciting way in which VR will affect wellness is by revolutionising mental health treatment. It was revealed this fall that Samsung is developing mental health diagnosis tools that will be placed in hospitals and which use VR.
And there’s also exciting potential for treatment sessions beyond diagnosis. Each case is different of course, but the general idea is that health professionals will be able to safely guide patients through treatment programmes that exist in VR occasionally delving into phobias and problematic environments, but doing so from the safety of an office or hospital room. It’s a little early to comment on the effects of this kind of treatment, but there’s a chance it marks a significant positive change in how we approach mental health.