People Who Got Seriously Hurt Playing VR Games
Virtual reality games are becoming increasingly popular in the gaming community. With the advancements being made, the VR experience is more cohesive and immersive than ever before. But with this technological advancement comes the possibility that VR is a bit too immersive. When a gamer gets lost in the world of killing zombies and trying to fight for their virtual lives, the last thing they want to think about is the coffee table sitting two feet in front of them. And while this real-world obstacle may be an unwanted distraction from their immersion, it can also be a safety hazard.
The occasional stubbed toe or bruised elbow is to be expected, but sometimes the injuries can be a bit more severe. Broken bones and stitches are becoming more common, and on occasion, the consequences of living in the virtual world can be fatal. With companies still trying to find ways to make your VR experience safer, it’s ultimately up to gamers to check their surroundings and avoid panic-running into walls while in VR.
You didn’t need that hand anyway
Spacial awareness is the biggest factor in VR-related injuries. This is why many VR companies have created chaperone systems to warn gamers when they’re getting too close to a wall or real-world object. But even the best technology can’t account for human error.
While livestreaming his VR gameplay, YouTuber Jeffrey Grubb didn’t make quite enough open space in his room. Grubb did take the time to move his large furniture out of the way, but unfortunately for him, he forgot to move his coffee table. The end result of this seemingly small oversight? Jeffrey slammed his hand into the table during his stream and got quite a nasty chunk taken out of his skin. His reaction says everything about just how painful this injury was, and it’s probably safe to say that he’ll move the coffee table next time. At least it wasn’t his face.
Dad gets an A for effort, but the kid still smashed his face
Introducing someone to VR for the first time is always fun. It’s even more enjoyable when that person is a child, experiencing their favorite Minecraft world all around them. While children can’t really be faulted for failing to understand the concepts of real objects in the virtual world, parents are usually there to prevent injury. But what do you do when you were so busy preventing one injury, that another happens under your watch?
When this dad let his kid play Minecraft in VR, he was immediately on guard, ensuring the boy didn’t run into any furniture. But when skeletons attacked and the kid tried to run straight into a couch, the dad quickly stopped him and turned him in the opposite direction. The only problem was, the opposite direction sent him straight into the TV stand. At least his dad tried to help, even if his attempts were ultimately fruitless.
Watch out for that tower
The Brookhaven Experiment is a favorite VR experience for people who are new to the platform. It can be found in many VR arcades as an introductory title. This game places you in remote locations with hordes of undead coming at you from all angles. If this is your first step into VR, it can be a bit jarring and leaves more than a few gamers terrified.
When you’re introduced to the addictive world of horror VR, it’s important to remember not to run away. Though your instincts may be telling you to get yourself as far away from the horror as possible, the walls and objects around you are saying something different. One gamer learned this the hard way when she attempted to run from the enemies in The Brookhaven Experiment and ended up running straight into a computer tower. She wasn’t deterred though. She simply curled into the fetal position and continued to scream. At least where fight or flight is concerned, she knows what her reflex of choice is.
Don’t hit your boss
When you interact with your superior in a work environment, physical violence is almost never the answer. This didn’t stop one woman from smacking her boss right in the head with a VR controller. In the woman’s defense, she was wearing the VR headset at the time. Of course, no one would ever be able to prove that it wasn’t an accident. Maybe the entire thing was actually just an elaborate revenge plot.
Needless to say, it’s probably never a good idea to play VR tennis with a person sitting only a few feet in front of you. That’s just asking for injuries to occur. And when the solid thud of that thick plastic hitting her boss’ head rang through the office, she must have immediately regretted her decision to ignore the spacial alerts the game provided her with. On the bright side, if she hit him hard enough, he may not even remember the incident.
Just hide. Don’t run into walls
One of the VR demos that people regularly play on their first foray into the virtual world involves a scene that looks a bit like Jurassic Park. Players find themselves in a large building all alone. Or at least, they think they’re alone until a huge T-Rex walks around the corner, trying to find them in the semi-darkness of the building.
The initial reaction of most people in this situation is to run. But being connected to a VR headset limits your ability to do that. One player decided to put scientific theories to the test by standing still as the dinosaur looked around for her. Her tactic almost worked, until the T-Rex took a few steps toward her. Forgetting she was in virtual reality, the girl panicked and ran straight into a nearby wall. While the run-in probably wasn’t bad enough to land her in the ER, she probably had a nasty bruise to show for her retreat. And now she knows once and for all that you can’t run away from a T-Rex.
Markiplier unintentionally smashed the short jokes
There are few gamers who haven’t heard of the entertaining Mark Fischbach, aka Markiplier. He’s known for his comedic commentary and eccentric voiceover style on his YouTube videos and has joined the ranks of the YouTuber greats. And while it’s most enjoyable to watch his horror game playthroughs, he does play other genres as well.
When Markiplier decided to post a video of himself playing VR tennis, viewers probably didn’t expect to catch not one, but two injuries on camera. Though Markiplier often endures short jokes at his expense, the YouTuber managed to smash his hand into his ceiling while playing VR tennis. The first time it happened, he let a few choice expletives slip, but the second time he simply declared that he was done, walking away to avoid further injury. At least he got the last laugh on all those short jokes.
One giant leap into a speaker
VR games can be dangerous in their final polished states, so it only stands to reason that a game in the alpha testing phase may be a bigger hazard than some gamers realize. The YouTube channel UnbreakableVrRunner/SoundVrCatcher has video evidence of just how dangerous game testing can be. While having his dad test out the VR game Unbreakable VR Runner, things don’t go exactly as planned. It’s not clear if the chaperone technology on the game was working at the time of testing, but judging by the number of times the tester runs into things, it wasn’t working as well as it should.
In a game where you’re required to stand, duck, and sidestep obstacles, spacial awareness is going to be key. Because the VR game requires movement from the player, it only makes sense that you’d want to play it in a wide open space. But in this video, the man testing out the game leaps forward into the VR system not once, but twice, effectively injuring himself and possibly doing some damage to the hardware. If the game is still in alpha testing, the next thing to work on should be the chaperone technology.
Sword play leads to smashed hands
The 2018 release of the VR game Beat Saber combined a few well-loved aspects of gaming. It combined the gameplay mechanics of Rock Band, the epic (but generically reimagined) weaponry of Star Wars, and the excitement of VR gaming. This game allows players to use their swords to smash the music on the screen out of existence, all the while immersing them in their environment.
It is, of course, easy to get a bit too lost in the world of your musical adventure. YouTuber meatwagon22 was streaming his gameplay of Beat Saber and doing a good job of racking up a high score. But things took a painful turn when the streamer smashed his hand into his desk with all the force of someone trying to get every note right. He was quickly pulled out of the immersion of Beat Saber and instead removed the headset to evaluate the damage. Maybe, in the future, when you play a game that involves slashing downward, you shouldn’t play right next to a desk.
The death of a TV
When introducing your friends to the amazing world of VR gaming, you may want to first make sure they aren’t skittish. When the people behind the YouTube channel Lodum gave their friend Strike his first taste of virtual reality, things didn’t go so well. Lodum had already stated in the description of their video that their friend is a "bit of a scaredy cat," and so they were prepared for an entertaining reaction. What they probably hadn’t counted on was the property damage that followed this first taste of virtual reality.
Only moments after Strike is dropped into the virtual world, it’s clear he’s already regretting his decision. The man is skittish and unsure of what to do. When he encounters a scare, he tries to run away, as many VR first-timers do. Unfortunately, instead of just running into a wall, he backs up into the TV behind him, knocking it from the stand. Strike was able to keep the TV from falling to the floor as he pinned it against the wall. But the potential damage to both Strike and the TV are probably enough to discourage Lodum from trying this experiment again.
A belly flop
VR demonstrations are optimized to give newcomers a taste of just what the VR system can do, while keeping things relatively safe. You won’t often find intricate plot lines and difficult gameplay in a store that is simply displaying a VR system to the general public. Most of these demos include looking around at short walking simulators and uncomfortable heights that show customers just how realistic the system is.
One VR demo had customers walk across a beam high in the city. As gamers looked down, they’d see the fatal fall below them if they didn’t make it across the beam. To add even more realism to the demonstration, the store even placed a short board on the ground for customers to walk across. When one girl tried the demo out, the realism was apparently too much for her. When she lost her balance and fell from the board, she forgot that she was in a VR demo. Instead of bracing for the impact of a short fall, she splayed herself out, preparing to plummet several stories. She essentially did a belly flop — onto a floor. Ouch.
Boy meets ground
A child’s ability to use their imagination is a gift. But there are times when that imagination goes just a bit too far. And virtual reality is a perfect way to blur the lines between what’s real and what’s fake to an alarming extent.
When one small gamer was trying out virtual reality, they became overly immersed in the surrounding environment. If adults can’t even distinguish between what’s real and what isn’t, how is a child supposed to? In this case, the child in question saw a desk in virtual reality that was blocking them from reaching what they needed to reach. They didn’t question the physical aspect of the desk and decided to lean on it. This resulted in a painful faceplant. At least the injury wasn’t worse. And now the child knows that virtual desks aren’t as helpful or forgiving as real ones.
The laws of gravity might give you stitches
The gaming industry is constantly finding ways to make your experience more immersive, no matter what type of game you’re playing. But when these experiences mimic something you’re used to doing in the real world, your brain can have a difficult time reconcile the difference between what’s real and what’s virtual. It’s a lot like playing Rock Band when you know how to play an instrument in real life; the practice just doesn’t quite add up and your real-world abilities can hinder you.
One gamer realized this unfortunate truth the hard way. While playing Sports Bar VR, he decided to give the air hockey table a try. However, when he leaned forward to put his weight on the air hockey table, he realized a bit too late that the table wasn’t actually there. Falling face-first, the player hit his head on the TV stand, requiring five stitches to close up the gash that the VR headset left on his face.
Fatal VR accident shows the true dangers of it all
While most of VR injuries result in bumps and bruises, there are instances where things can take a darker turn. Not all VR accidents are funny incidents that get posted on YouTube. In one such instance, a VR accident actually led to the loss of one man’s life. In 2017, the first recorded VR death occurred involving a man in Russia. He was found in his home after he’d passed away from blood loss.
Though authorities don’t have exact confirmation about what happened, it appeared that the man had slipped and fallen onto the glass table in his living room. This momentary loss of balance, something that would normally have resulted in a funny video clip, unfortunately led to a nasty cut from broken glass. Sources report that the man likely passed away from blood loss relatively quickly, as his VR headset was still on when he was found. With an incident like this, it’s clear that more precautions need to be taken where VR safety is concerned.