On Video Games, pt. 2

It’s strange how therapeutic video games are for my dysphoria, and in what ways.

One of the more bizarre ways I have consoled myself in recent years is by following the development and rise of VR (Virtual Reality). Of course, as a 90s baby, I always knew that VR was the future. Somewhere, a photo exists of me in an arcade in Vegas at a young age, standing on a platform and wearing a hilariously giant VR helmet.

Despite being loosely Star Wars-themed, it was a terrible game. But it makes for a great snapshot of the era!

virtual_boy_wasteland_large.jpg

Come to think of it, that’s a funny name for a product for me to reference.

VR seemed like the inevitable near future when I was a kid, but it never really materialized until very recently. And even now, it’s not off to the smoothest start, but this time, I do believe that it is here to stay.

As far as gaming goes, there are really three main options for VR right now: PC (represented by the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive), Sony Playstation VR, and smartphones (chiefly, Samsung Gear VR, but more recently, also Google Daydream). Each takes a somewhat different approach, and each is aimed at a different market, but the forms are surprisingly similar for each. That is, it’s basically a headset and a controller, with maybe a couple more peripherals to clutter your room if you’ve got a bit more cash.

Games are rudimentary right now, at best. There’s been no real “killer app” to hit the market to help units fly off the shelves. And, unfortunately, there’s not really anything out there that would “put me in the body of a girl,” so to speak.

It’s ridiculous to say out loud, but one thought that helps keep me going sometimes is that if I wait long enough, something like this will exist for people like me. Maybe it will take another 10 years, or 20, or 30. Maybe I’ll be 89 when (if) it finally happens. But if I can wait long enough, I can live a completely female life in virtual space, without causing myself so much trouble by coming out as transgender, and without hurting so many people I love and care about. I might be absolutely miserable until then, but even if I just have a couple of years to live as a digital female, maybe I can deal with it.

I mentioned earlier that VR today is mostly just a headset and controller for a reason. The thing is, the experience is pretty much entirely audiovisual right now. You see, you hear, but you can’t smell, you can’t taste, and you most certainly can’t feel. So even if, right this minute, a game came out that would allow me to live out my fantasy, it would fall well short of my real wish. And though futurists may beg to differ, I still think we are a long way off from the full-dive experience portrayed in The Matrix.

Still, if I can lie to myself to make myself feel a little better, I generally will.

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