Could VR Gambling Increase Empathy? A New Tool For Players

vr gamblingIt might be hard to recognise where empathy lies in the gambling world. To put things bluntly, everyone is out for themselves. All we want to do it win money and maybe have some fun in the process. How on earth does empathy fit into all that?

Well, stranger things have happened with VR and many may have called it into question but empathy comes up time and time again. In fact, there have been major studies into how VR can increase one’s sense of empathy on a variety of issues. So how does empathy fit into VR gambling? Simple answer: it puts you in other people’s shoes.

The Zuckerberg Disaster

mark zuckerbergMany of you may remember a month or so ago when Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, stood on the rooftop of his headquarters in California wearing a VR headset to transport himself to the flooded streets of Puerto Rico? The idea seemed well-intended enough with Zuckerberg claiming afterwards that it was an exercise in empathy. By wearing the headset, it “brought him closer” to those suffering from the disaster.

This, however, did not go down well. Many people were angered at Zuckerberg’s grinning avatar being implanted on a picture of human suffering, all for the sake of promoting VR. With this in mind, Zuckberg’s reasoning might come across as clumsy damage control. On the other hand, it did bring the reality home that what he saw was truly horrific. Though, to be fair, it should be fairly obvious just how horrific the aftermath of a hurricane can be.

This isn’t the first example of VR being used for empathetic purposes, though. Adults have used VR to try to understand child abuse from the point of view of the child, thereby raising awareness and inspiring people to help try and prevent it. For outsiders, this might seem like a sick and perverse way of “being woke” and, at worst, a twisted kind of game. But some who have used it this way disagree.

“We have a chance to recreate the empathy people felt when they first came forward to foster,” said Helen Costa,  who has adopted two children and is chief executive of the Cornerstone Partnership. “I know how difficult it is to understand why children behave the way they do and to connect it to what happened in their early life.” She went on to add that books and other media can only go so far in creating the same kind of empathy instead of experiencing it first hand.


How Does This Apply To VR Gambling?

price playstation vr headsetsSo the natural question you’re all dying to know the answer to is what all these empathy exercises have to do with VR gambling? Empathy isn’t a natural part of the gambling process so why bother with all this? The answer is simple: in VR gambling and beyond, there are people who need a stronger sense of empathy and those people are problem gamblers/addicts.

It can be hard for those who have not suffered from addiction of any kind to empathise with those who do. It’s not a knock against those who haven’t but it’s almost impossible to completely understand what that other person is going through unless you literally live their life for them. VR helps them to do that. Imagine a simulation where you are made to live the life of a severe problem gambler through a headset. That could make a really big impact. VR gambling, consequently, could make regular players becomes more empathetic to those who are not so fortunate as they are.


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