A new study released this week and detailed in the journal PLoS One suggests humans can take ownership of a virtual body so completely when viewing a virtual world through a first-person perspective that they actually "feel" it when their virtual self gets slapped. Imagine what this could do for games where you get shot.
In the study, male subjects wore virtual reality goggles and viewed a scenario from a first- or third-person perspective. In the scenario, the player takes the role of a teenage girl interacting with her mother. The mother first strokes the girl's shoulder. In real life, while this is going on, a lab researcher stroked the subject's shoulder. Then, in the scenario, the mother slaps her daughter three times with accompanying sound effects.
Not surprisingly, the subjects viewing the scenario from the first-person had a physical reaction -- their heart rates slowed as if they were really processing a physical attack in real life. Those that viewed the scenario from the third-person perspective didn't have the same reaction.
Pretty nifty bit of science. If implemented in video games, do you think it'll make you more cautious with your first-person shooter characters?
This story, "Study: You Can Feel Things That Happen in Virtual Reality" was originally published by GamePro.