Virtual games, real injuries

2 minute read

Here’s some innovative ways to break yourself in the quest to stay distracted.

We humans are an inventive species. Especially when it comes to finding new ways to entertain ourselves.

Aeons ago, when your Back Page correspondent was first in short pants, the pinnacle of immersive technology was a thing called the “View-Master”. For those too young to remember these wondrous devices (and that will be almost all of you), here’s what one looked like.

The View-Master was the 1960s version of today’s virtual reality headset, with two crucial differences: 1: They were crap. 2: It was virtually impossible to injure yourself using one.

Which is the critical point of difference. Virtual reality, it transpires, is a proving to be a very real way to cause physical damage. 

According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, the growing popularity of VR headsets has led to a spate of folks doing themselves harm in interesting and unusual ways, mainly due to the fact they can’t actually see where they’re stepping, punching or kicking when interacting with the virtual world.

What’s more, many of the more physically focussed interactive games require the type of bodily exertions encountered in the real world, with the inevitable consequences.

Examples include one chap in the US who managed to dislocate his shoulder while virtually “fighting” in a Roman coliseum, and a German man who broke his neck while undertaking a vigorous series of shoulder, arm and head movements.

The more common injuries usually involve falling over, or bumping into, inanimate objects, but your correspondent’s hands-down favourite is something called “gorilla arm syndrome”. 

This is a cumulative injury sustained when VR gamers maintain a raised-arms position “gorilla style” for long periods without taking a break.

To be fair to the VR makers, their devices do come with warnings for users concerning creating a safe physical environment before donning the headset, but nobody actually reads all that stuff, do they?   

As Bilbo Baggins once said, “It’s a dangerous world, Frodo, going out of your door”. Turns out, it can be quite dangerous staying inside it as well.

If you see something that belongs in the TMR metaverse, share the reality with

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×