Virtual Reality (VR) is still relatively new and the game application is even newer. The first headset suitable for VR gaming was the Oculus Rift which only came on the market in 2016. Developers expected an immediate demand for VR games and headsets. In reality, the VR gaming market grew slowly at first.
There were issues with motion sickness and the delay between a player’s action and the feedback to the headset (called “latency” in the jargon). By the time Valve launched Half-Life: Alyx in 2020, the developers had fixed some of these issues. Headsets became cheaper and the range of games increased. Google has introduced a range of cardboard headsets, making the price affordable for everyone.
When people interact with a virtual world, their reactions are often funny to watch. The reason we find watching VR gamers so funny is easy to find. Players are immersed in a situation that we might be able to see on a monitor, knowing what’s coming and that the game is completely fake. To the player, the VR world is real, even though deep down they know it’s just a game. Here’s our top ten funniest moments in VR gaming.
Related: Top 10 Things That Will Shatter Your Perception of Reality
10 A Screaming Good Time
In this video, the player repeatedly says to himself that he does not like what is happening to him. Judging by his reactions, this is undoubtedly true, but it begs the question of why he doesn’t take the headset off. We will see other videos that ask us the same question. I think the answer has to be that he wants to see what happens next and is afraid of looking weak if he gives up.
Note that the man yells quite a bit. What good does he think that will do? Yelling isn’t rational, so why do we do it when we’re scared?
The amygdala is a structure in the center of the brain that processes the emotions caused by fear. A scream in the amygdala prompts our brain to be more alert and increases our ability to analyze. This may help you escape from a haunted house, but it will do you a lot of good if you jump out of a plane and your parachute doesn’t open.
Still, it’s funny to see how people react primitively.
9 Down the rabbit hole
You have to admire mom’s persistence in this clip. She’s willing to try VR, even if she’s terrified. Her family finds her antics hilarious because they know she is home safe and not where she believes. Of course Mom would know this too if she could think rationally about the situation. But the thing about virtual reality is that it affects the brain on a more primitive level.
In Lewis Carroll’s enduring classic novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice follows the White Rabbit into his lair and finds herself in a nonsensical, surreal world. Her experience doesn’t help her much in a place where her logical rules often don’t apply. Very similar to the experience of putting on a VR headset.
Mom has gone down the rabbit hole and on some level her brain is convinced that this is a real experience.
8 This game has teeth
The girl here is a little wary of what her boyfriend is trying to persuade her to do. He’s honest enough to admit that he hasn’t played the game before, so he’s not quite sure what to expect. The girl has experience with VR gaming, so she is aware that this undersea world is artificial.
Still, sometimes primitive emotions surface. This game is distinguished by the fact that the player has no control over what happens to her. She is in a protective cage and is warned that something is coming. As many of our players do, she says she doesn’t like what’s happening. Still, she can’t help much if she wants to finish the game.
An interesting benefit of VR gaming is that it can help people get over phobias. If people can have fun with sharks, maybe they can be helped to overcome their fear.
7 Step into the deep
This one is interesting because it’s a challenge shared by people you know who would probably be too willing to poke fun at failure. As you will see, the premise of this game is simple. Players must walk a short plank that hangs high above a city. If they reach the end, they can get off the end and fall to the ground. The graphics clearly show an imaginary place; there is no attempt to fool the players into thinking this is real.
Our brains are divided into the reptilian (or primordial), the limbic, and the neocortex (although some use different terms). When our players walk on the plank, the reptile part is dominant. This is the most primitive of the three parts and controls vital functions such as balance, breathing, heart rate and temperature. Rationality is not part of its function; it’s about basic survival.
The dominance of the reptilian brain explains the reactions of players in all of our videos and explains why we, who use more rational parts of the brain, find VR games hilarious to watch.
6 Release steam
While the player reassures himself that he is safe in a room, once he puts on his VR helmet, rationality flies out the window. He occasionally babbles and curses a lot. There’s a lot of swearing in some of our videos, and most of it is stronger than the occasional “damn.”
Swearing is a safety release that allows us to relieve tension, and the stronger the swear word, the more effective the action. This player is always clear in his mind that his experience is completely artificial, he takes off his helmet to give himself a break before diving back in. A good idea if you are starting to feel overwhelmed by the experience. But our player can’t resist diving back into it. The VR world is challenging, fun and addictive.
5 Safety first
Here we see a mishmash of experiences from people who are not used to VR gaming. We’ve seen them in other videos. The players close their eyes, scream and twist their bodies as spectators smile as they remind them that they are safe.
What stands out most about this video is the number of times people bump into objects in the real world. This can be dangerous, especially for inexperienced users who are immersed in a virtual world with no spatial relationship to reality.
I suppose the lesson is that you shouldn’t use VR technology unless you’re in a safe environment. This is one of the reasons why some gamers prefer to play in arcades. There they are monitored and can share their experiences directly with others.
4 This game is sick
This compilation supports what we have said about other videos. At one point, one of the players says, “I’m getting dizzy,” and this could be a problem with VR technology.
Many players report feeling dizzy or nauseous when using VR helmets. Basically, this is the difference between what the eyes tell the player and what the body does in real space. For example, if a player climbs a flight of stairs in a game, but the body knows that it is actually on a flat floor, the player may become disoriented.
This feeling can be reinforced by something under the impressive name ‘vergence-accommodation conflict’. This happens when in VR the eyes are on something that seems far away but is actually on a screen right in front of the eyes.
But it can be comical to see people whirling and staggering as if they had too much to drink at the Christmas party.
3 VR not only
This video highlights the fact that people should not use VR alone. You might find – in fact, you probably will – that everyone else in the room is ill laughing at themselves. Not funny for you if you have a terrifying experience. Doesn’t matter, you’ll in turn laugh at the others, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
I wonder if it might be a good idea to include a proximity sensor in VR headsets so that people get a warning if they are too close to a real object.
2 With Metaverse it only gets better
The commenter of this video points out that space is important. He talks about having enough space to play it safe. It’s a point we’ve already made, and it’s certainly true. However, in VR, two different spaces collide: the real world and the imaginary.
The fact that the Facebook group has changed name to Meta says something about the unlimited ambition that drives the company. It is now dedicated to building a Metaverse. The idea behind a metaverse seems to be the construction of an alternate reality that makes sense internally, but allows users to perform actions in the ‘real’ world.
Gaming will undoubtedly be a major feature of the Metaverse and companies are developing new technologies to make the experience more real. More real and more fun for everyone.
1 Fast food future
I don’t know if “funny” is the right word to describe this latest clip. “Surreal” might be better. The normal activity of ordering a meal at McDonald’s becomes an interactive shooter with images of an early Duke Nukem.
The only limits in VR are the limits we place on our own imagination. The gaming world is changing and the changes aren’t just limited to gaming. VR can change the way we interact with the world. The way we live, work, play and interact with others can change dramatically.