Monday Musings: VR Ethics & Morality

Blog Posts ,Random Musings ,Virtual Reality
October 12, 2015

Hey Everyone!

I’ve been unbelievably busy over the past two months, and I miss writing blog posts desperately. I have several in the pipeline waiting to get finished up, but I had an idea today that I thought I’d drop in and test out for a little while: Introducing Monday Musings! These will be shorter-form, note-like blog posts that I share that may or may not be related to VR/AR, but that I want to share some quick thoughts on and get some extra insight on.

Today’s Monday Musings: VR Ethics & Morality

Video games came under fire for allegedly promoting violence  - what will be the challenges that VR faces? Photo - Ryan McGuire

Video games came under fire for allegedly promoting violence – what will be the challenges that VR faces?
Photo – Ryan McGuire

This topic is on the top of my mind today because I’m headed to Houston tomorrow for Grace Hopper, where I’ll be doing two sessions related to virtual reality – one of which is a Birds of a Feather session about potential ethical and moral issues that virtual reality technology may need to overcome as it hits the mainstream over the next few years. Back in college, I took a class focused on social considerations of gaming and virtual environments, and it’s been something that has stayed with me as an interesting area of study.

  • (How) will VR be unique from existing 2D content in how it emotionally affects us?
  • What will be the impact difference of a traumatic in-game experience on a 2D device vs. an immersive one?
  • What type of “video game violence” debates will stem from the existence of VR technologies?
  • Is VR likely to inspire new types of regulation on content experiences? If so, what will the ramifications of this be?
  • Does VR have more potential to have a lasting or tangible impact on emotional health when compared to existing media?

I’m really interested to see how attendees of the session feel about some of these concerns – as an industry, I think there is a lot of proactive behaviors going into making VR a safe and controlled experience, but sometimes outward considerations and perceptions have a significant impact on how well-received novel technologies are adopted.

Does the sense of presence in VR impact how we feel on a lasting basis? I know that I feel a lot more defeated dying in VR than I do in non-VR games, but that’s a data point of N=1 and it may be a temporary effect. Definitely interested to see how this changes over the course of the next few months as more people get their hands on devices and more people begin to put out material that may be considered controversial.

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2 thoughts on “Monday Musings: VR Ethics & Morality”

  1. Chris says:

    I was too shy to come to the microphone, but I was thinking of the potential to re-map a VR part of the body to the real limb. Take the rubber hand illusion ( I can see where a VR game developer could do this either accidentally or deliberately. Combine VR with a haptic glove, and you might be able to repro the results of this experiment. On the flip side, VR might be used to help people using another application of this limb remapping, like the way mirror therapy is used in the treatment of phantom limb pain. (

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