Friend Lura sent me this on Facebook the other day: Is the Oculus Rift Sexist?
In the article, Microsoft researcher Dana Boyd asserts that virtual reality, having been made by men, mostly with men in mind, makes women puke. I mean, what doesn’t? Everything from medical science to business etiquette is the female equivalent of living in a bakery with a gluten intolerance. For example, did you know that the typical, universal sign of a impending heart attack: shooting pains in the left arm, rarely happens to women? A whole host of other symptoms, including tightness in the jaw indicate heart trouble for ladies, but not many people know this, despite heart disease being the number one killer of American women.
I’m getting distracted. It’s 10:43, and Ben and I are doing this whole trying to be in bed by 11 thing. He’s already asleep. He had a long day, poor little pumpkin.
Back to VR. Boyd kind of lost me in paragraph three when she laments about how hard it is for us ladies to accomplish even “basic tasks like jump from Point A to Point B in a Nintendo 64 game [sic].” Not only is that phrase, nay that entire sentence grammatically incorrect (a capital sin on the Internet), it’s also damn fucking wrong.
We’ve known for awhile now that nearly half of all active gamers are women. I’m pretty sure we’re not all tragically, comically failing to jump over a gap, dying and then doing it over again day after day. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that we’re probably at least reasonably successful or we wouldn’t keep doing this shit.
In a completely unscientific poll of the populatce, I took to Reddit and asked two questions. You can read the threads, but here are some highlights:
Transgender Redditors on HRT: Did your Visual Perception Change?
There are well documented ocular changes that occur during estrogen based HRT, although except for a short window of time during the actual change it’s probably not noticeable except to your optician. The amount of change is very much YMMV.
No, that sounds a lot like bullshit to me.
I still play video games, I still use door handles; I’ve probably gotten better at both, actually. I still am able to win games, I didn’t suddenly start stumbling every time I open the door.
Anecdotally, I’ve run into more door frames since starting on HRT. Draw your own conclusions.
Female Redditors: Have You Ever Tried Immersive Virtual Reality like Oculus Rift?
I have been in a CAVE set-up, worn experimental virtual reality headsets (through my university) and have used an Oculus Rift a few times, and I’ve never had any issue with nausea or anything like this author described.
In my experience women tend to be affected at the same rate as men in these situations, though of course I’ve not studied the statistics or done any experiments on this.
I would almost certainly get sick in VR because I get sick in everything.
So, my conclusion is: maybe? I’d argue that if VR isn’t biased towards men and male users, it’s only because, by accident of evolution, the way women experience VR is at least as much the same as the way men experience it in order for it to be a moot point. Boyd does talk about the different ways that men and women prioritize depth perception, but she never does assert the simple assumption made in the beginning of the article: that more women then men are negatively effected by the VR experience.
Now that we have so many more people trying and working with VR, it seems like this would be the first question we’d want asked and answered before we go off into trying to figure out why women are negatively effected by something that they may not even be bothered by.
Well, I have absolutely no idea if that was even coherent. But it’s 11:05 and an elephant keeps her word… give or take 5 minutes. I’ll edit in the morning.