This VR death simulator game ‘cures’ the fear of dying

Have you ever sat around playing games all day and started to have an existential crisis?

“What am I doing with my life? Am I wasting my short time here on earth? Someday, I’ll be dead, will I even be able to cash in these achievement points in Heaven?”

A new VR “game”, a death simulator, aims to help people deal with those nagging feelings. The therapeutic potential of VR is very exciting in a number of fields, this one in particular.

They sit a person down in a chair, pop an Oculus headset on them, and attach a variety of motion trackers, along with little Rumble Packs that vibrate.

Head tracking shows them sitting down inside a room and allows the patient to look around. As they explore the area around them, they see their shadow on the wall, and describe the environment around them.

Little bouncy balls start flying around the room, and they cause little vibrations to go off so that you feel the impact in real life.

After some time, half of the participants lose control of the virtual body for an out-of-body experience. The bouncy balls follow their vantage point, rather than staying near their body.

balls-near-player

For the other half, the bouncing balls stay close to the body as the perspective shifts and the person leaves their virtual body.

balls-near-consciousness

 

This research shows that having someone experience their consciousness leaving their body can help to reduce their fear of dying.

It’s great to see researchers doing experiments to understand the true potential that VR could have for helping people and improving our world, beyond just playing games.