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Opinions of Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Columnist: Oti Desmond

social media, an unrecognized form of virtual reality technology

Virtual Reality Gaming is the term used to describe a new generation Virtual Reality Gaming is the term used to describe a new generation

In recent times, Hollywood movies like “Free Guy” and “Ready Player One” have received critical acclaim and gained box office success. The unique similarity that runs through these two movies is the prominence of virtual reality games in their plot.

Virtual Reality Gaming is the term used to describe a new generation of computer games with virtual reality (VR) technology that gives players a truly immersive, first-person perspective of game action. Gamers both experience and influence the game environment through a variety of VR gaming devices and accessories, including VR headsets, sensor-equipped gloves, hand controllers, and more.

Virtual Reality Gaming (VRG) for a while now has been seen as a piece of futuristic technology which even though has some presence in our modern society, is expected to be widespread in the nearby future. The purpose of virtual reality technology is to provide users with the experience of living in an alternate world where they can be whatever they want to be without the limitations that restrict them in the actual world.

Some of us living in developing countries have not yet experienced the aspect of which includes the use of VR headsets, sensor-equipped gloves, and hand controllers among others, therefore, we have to satisfy our thirst for virtual reality experience with games like ‘The Sims’, ‘Sim City’, ‘Minecraft’, ‘Second life’ etc. However, from all indications, virtual reality technology will only soon be available even in the poorest regions of the world.

What many have failed to recognize is that we have been living with virtual reality technology for almost two decades now, and it is in the form of social media. Social media as we know it is a computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc have always provided users with the means to project a certain personality of themselves to the virtual world. These personalities are akin to the avatars people create to live their lives in virtual reality games. They mold and shape the way the virtual world sees them and perceives them. In most cases, these personalities are different from their personalities in real life.

Some people have different “avatars” for each social media account they have and this means different personalities of the same person are being projected into the virtual world. Some also regard social media as an escape from the harsh realities of life and this is in line with the objectives of virtual reality technologies.

After a hard day’s work and stress, an individual will log in to social media and within a few seconds, he or she will be laughing away his or her problems momentarily. Ghanaians have a saying which goes like “You can never be sad in this country” and this saying came about as a result of memes that can be found everywhere on social media.

These functions of social media, therefore, have given us more than a taste of virtual reality life way before even VRGs became a reality. If we begin to regard social media as the virtual reality technology it is, I believe we can adapt and fully prepare ourselves before the VRGs invade our part of the world.