Are Women Worse in Experiencing Virtual Reality?

Dana Boyd, researcher at Microsoft Research, is engaged in analyzing the impact of new technologies on children and adolescents, including gender pecularities. She explored such a well-known problem of virtual reality headset as nausea or motion sickness when using Oculus Rift. That some people experience discomfort wearing Oculus is not news. However, observations show that most women suffer from it. Such statements caused a harsh reaction. So what exactly is the problem?

Ms. Boyd has her own theory on this account: “The brain of men evaluates reality to a greater extent in terms of parallax, while the brain of women rather believes shadows. Meanwhile, virtual reality systems do an excellent job with the location of objects relative to each other, but in simulating the shadow details they are much worse. Therefore, Oculus Rift allegedly often causes disorientation and associated symptoms in women”.

Even if this theory is correct, the problem is not in virtual reality as such, but in the still weak technical implementation of this technology, so it can be solved. In addition, serious research on this subject has not been conducted, the findings are made only as observations.

And what do the women themselves say, after testing the headset? Most of them feel a certain discomfort with the “Rollercoaster” demo game, which is “mandatory” for testing Oculus Rift. Calmer demos, such as “Walking astronaut” do not cause problems. But on a real roller coaster people feel sick too often. Does this mean that people with weak vestibular system are better not to have fun in virtual way? Let’s hope that improving technology will eliminate these problems and gender equality will establish itself in the virtual world.