Scientists Want You to Be a Doomed Cow in VR to Make You Sad About Burgers

By Gary Cutlack on at

Researchers thinking up ways to make people care about environmental issues think VR might be the answer, with one team of academics building a VR experience based around being a small bit of coral and seeing how you like being stuck in a gradually changing environment that's out of your control.

The project also lets VR headset wearers be a cow and suffer the pain of being sent off to be turned into meat products, while the coral sim has the VR inhabitants gradually corroding away by warmer waters and more acidic seas.

And it's for a reason. The creators claim those experiencing the doomsday experiences felt more connected to the nature shown in the game worlds, very seriously put by the team as: "Embodying sensory-rich experiences of animals in IVEs led to greater feeling of embodiment, perception of being present in the virtual world, and interconnection between the self and nature compared to video."

The paper's co-author Grace Ahn explained in a more welcoming way that: "Virtual reality is an amazing tool in terms of being able to show you the really solid causal relationships - this is what you do today, and here’s what might happen 100 years down the road." [Guardian]


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