Therapists from Canada have come out and said that players who experience problems with gambling, primarily addiction, could receive treatment through VR gambling. The claim comes after they have conducted extensive research into the effects of this relatively new piece of technology and how it could potentially affect the minds of patients.
However, other experts have also claimed that as well as being able to assist problem gamblers in fighting their addiction, it could make things worse. This sounds paradoxical and many casual observers would not understand how something could help but also not help. Well, if we look at the data, we can find out for ourselves.
How It Can Help
With VR gambling, therapists can take their willpower and test it in the virtual reality arena, these experts claimed. Psychologists such as Stephane Bouchard can recreate sights, sounds and the action of gambling in virtual reality environments, sensory triggers that can induce cravings and intense emotional responses. These impulses can then be used to help patients control their urges in a controlled environment and it can be used by the therapist to assist their recovery.
For some problem players, even the sight of a slot inside the context of a VR casino is a strong signal that they are not as far along their recovery as they thought. “Even the sight of a (cash machine) is enough to trigger gambling cravings in some people,” Bouchard said. It has become clear, then, that VR could be used as an effective measuring tool to see how problem gambling manifests itself in a problem gambler as well as what can be done to counter those impulses. It’s a very involved way of doing things but could prove very effective. It is largely based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and could be a real leg-up in terms of helping those in need of better coping mechanisms.
How It Can Hinder
There are those, on the other hand, who believe that VR gambling will be a hindrance to recovery rather than a help. Even Bouchard has himself admitted that this form of therapy could open up problems and needs further development.
“We needed to know that we can use these tools in therapy without triggering our patients so they leave the office and then gamble away their fortune and kill themselves,” he said. While the tests have so far proven successful, there is always a risk that a sever case of gambling addiction could go awry .
It could even encourage their addiction and make them crave it more. If so much stimuli is deliberately being drawn out during a session, a lesser psychologist could accidentally use VR gambling to make things worse. Though a rather dramatic scenario to imagine, different methods work for different people and not everyone will respond well to the intense VR gambling sessions. This is why it’s important not to romanticise it or make it seem like the be-all and end-all of sophisticated tech.
Blessing Or Curse?
So, in regards to problem gambling, is VR a blessing or a curse? The majority say it could help players who struggle with addiction but there are those who remain sceptical. Whether it’s due to a predetermined worldview of gambling in general or how limited VR is (it really isn’t!) it’s hard to tell but one thing’s for sure, only time will be able to determine whether such new therapies are possible. We sincerely hope so as it could help reduce what could be a burgeoning problem to absolute zero.