As virtual reality headsets become more commercially viable and more affordable, stories like this one out of Moscow may, sadly, become more common. An unidentified 44-year-old Russian man suffered a fatal injury after falling while wandering around his apartment wearing a VR headset, The Moscow Times reported.
Details from the original Russian-language TASS report are scarce, but the man reportedly was walking around his apartment wearing one of the many widely available VR headsets and fell into a glass table. The fall resulted in enough loss of blood to kill him, according to TASS. Further details will, presumably, wait until the ongoing investigation is finished.
Virtual reality, as it currently exists, encloses users into a virtual space in which their audiovisual senses are dominated entirely by the experience. That means users can lose awareness of their physical surroundings if they are not careful, resulting in injuries. The Russian man’s death was seemingly the first of its kind since consumer-grade VR blew up in 2016 with the launch of Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.
— Ed Ryder (@Ed_Ryder7) December 20, 2017
In a 2014 panel, video game developer Danny Unger warned of the potentially fatal consequences of VR’s deep level of user immersion, Gamesindustry.biz reported. Unger’s theory was that someone would eventually be scared to death by horror-themed VR games that emphasize jump scares, which did not seem to be the case in the death of the Russian man.
“We’re very close to having the first death in VR – I firmly believe that,” Unger said in 2014.
Unger moved on to say VR developers need to be wary of how players could potentially harm themselves while using headsets.
“If you haven’t had the dev kit in your hands, you need to get it in your hands to understand the weight of that consequence,” Unger said. “You really could kill somebody. You really could. We all have to be mindful of that.”