Virtual reality 'can make people healthier'

8 November

Computer fans who enjoy virtual reality games like Second Life, where they navigate through an imaginary world through an avatar, can actually be influenced by their digital selves.

Researchers from the University of Missouri discovered that gamers who strongly identified with their online creation, were more likely to be influenced by it in the real world.
279 Second Life users responded to questions about the relationships they developed online, how they designed their avatar and what their general wellbeing was like in the real world.

They also answered questions about their physical appearance and emotional state outside of the virtual world.
'The creation of an avatar allows an individual to try on a new appearance and persona, with little risk or effort,' commented Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz, lead researcher.

"That alter-ego can then have a positive influence on a person’s life. For example, people seeking to lose weight could create fitter avatars to help visualize themselves as slimmer and healthier."
Second Life was launched in 2003, bringing a whole new way of existing to the world. Every avatar in it is controlled by a real person and every environment has been built by someone.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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