VR is 44% more addictive than flat gaming (according to a study)

When I talk about virtual reality or the metaverse, there are always people that ask me about its intrinsic risks of escapism and addiction: “Is it possible that people will prefer to live in a virtual world instead of the real one?” is a very common question I hear. It’s an intriguing theme about which I have heard different opinions and answers, and I’m always eager to know more because I want to have a complete picture of the situation. I care about having a VR ecosystem that is healthyso of course, I want to know more about its intrinsic risks because only knowing the real risks we may investigate how to solve them.

That’s why when I saw a tweet from “Mister President” Alvin Wang Graylin about a study that HTC conducted about XR addiction together with a Chinese University, I was intrigued by the results. In the graphs shared in the tweet, it was possible to read that “VR gaming addiction tendency is 44% bigger than the one related to PC gaming”and while the test group was pretty small (20 people), the data extracted from the study was pretty detailed, and also highlighted how this “VR addiction” has different characteristics among men and women.

I immediately asked for an interview with professor Chen (the head of the research study) because I think that it’s important that we all in the community talk about not only the good, but also the possible bad outcomes of VR so that we can find together a solution. In the remainder of this article, you can find my full interview with prof. Chen, together with the graphs from HTC and the Communication University of China that show their findings.

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I thank a lot professor Chen for the time he dedicated to me to explain better this interesting study. What I’ve found incredibly important in his words is that We need more tools provided by the headset manufacturers so that we can fight better the possible “addiction” problems. Especially now, in a moment where VR is largely unregulated but is being used by many kids, we need hardware companies to provide more tools so that children can have a healthy use of the technology. I really hope that this is going to happen soon.

I also appreciated that he was not alarmed by the bigger “addictive power”: he just acknowledges that there is a problem and that it could even be seen as an opportunity if this “addictivity” is actually used to foster healthy habits into users (eg use VR to make people stay healthy by doing more fitness).

As I’ve said before, this article was meant to spark a debate in the community about the theme of addiction and VR, so I’m very curious to hear your thoughts. What do you think about this study? What actions do you think we should perform to have a healthier VR ecosystem? Let me know in the comments here below or on my social media channels!

(Header image by HTC Vive)

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