By: Claudia Davis
Believe it or not, today’s society has created a way to practically clone yourself online. A concept I did not know really existed before Wednesday’s class with guest speaker, Donna Davis,quickly became my own reality. Davis had asked in class if any of us had a “Bitmoji”, which in simple terms is a literal avatar designed to look like its creator that can be linked to various social media platforms to essentially act as they would in real life. Many of us did not understand up until that point that we too were “somewhat” users of virtual reality, just without the fancy virtual goggles. Beyond the surface, Dr. Davis explained that virtual reality is not solely used for entertainment. Working with people that have physical disabilities, Davis has learned first hand that what seems to be a virtual reality to most is an actual reality for those who cannot experience a normal one. One thing Davis had mentioned in particular is that virtual reality can benefit people with Parkinson’s Disease because it allows them to feel that their bodies function “normally”.
People with physical impairments are often treated differently in society, even though their brain functions like a completely healthy human’s brain would. Dr. Davis was able to share with our class that it is an escape mechanism for the impaired. Virtual reality allows them to be “seen” by themselves and by others as a normally functioning person. Using virtual worlds, such as Second Life, people are able to feel a sense of normalcy in a world that allows them to be just like everyone else. With over 500,000 users, Second Life is a much bigger community than any of us could have imagined. Davis was able to share with us how her avatar socializes with others and we even got to be a part of a concert being performed by an avatar, but with the actual voice of his creator. Seems almost too real to be virtual, right?
No matter how big a hater of gaming advances I may be, this one has many positive uses. The fact that virtual reality has been able to give those with physical disabilities a sense of normal reality is simply amazing. Advancements of virtual reality will hopefully be able to aid even more to the medical field in the future.
Virtual reality can be a scary idea for those who do not understand its purpose, however, many of us who questioned virtual reality do not face the struggles of not having a normal reality. It is crazy to think that a form of gaming technology made for people to escape reality has become a normal reality to those who cannot experience one in real life.