How a simple VR game helped me cope with Covid

In January 2021, during the still rampant Covid-19 pandemic that has changed all of our lives, I finally bought myself a VR headset. This has turned out to be the best cure to how overwhelmed I felt during this once in a lifetime event. Suddenly I could go travel without leaving my house, I could experience new forms of interactivity, new experiences or watch a movie with friends and strangers, but the game Pavlov VR is what has turned out to hook me the most. Pavlov is a VR first person shooter, similar to Counter Strike. Just like that game, Pavlov has an extremely active modding community that make maps, modes and other things that you can experience in the game. There are maps from Halo, zombie game modes from Call Of Duty, and even completely original modes. The one that hooked me the most is a take on the classic mod Trouble in Terrorist Town (abbreviated as TTT). In this custom mode, people are split into 3 groups, innocents, Detectives and the titular terrorists. The rules of the game are simple: Some players are terrorists and you have to eliminate them before they get you. Unlike Among Us, which has taken this formula to the mainstream, there’s a third faction of players, the detectives. There’s usually 1 or 2 of them per round, selected at random. Unlike all other players, everyone knows who the detective is, and the detective has limited tools that can help innocents win.

So how did this game mode based on lies and deception help me cope with the situation in the outside world? Well, there’s this simple thing called voice chat. Such a simple inclusion has changed this game from a normally stressful and isolating experience, to one that is the complete opposite. In my first game, people were roleplaying as donut store owners, giving ammunition magazines instead of donuts, causing quite the laugh to all involved. I was innocent, but as it would later be shown, the “owner” of the shop was a terrorist. But I didn’t care. Nor did anyone else. Instead of holding a grudge once the timer ended and he had to kill us all, everyone in the server had a massive laugh, and we proceeded to add this roleplay of the donut shop to our next rounds. Remember, these were all strangers, having a fun time as if they were back to being children playing with a sand castle. But alas, all good things come to an end and I had to say goodbye to the temporary friends I had made.

However, when I logged in the next day, there were more people playing, more strangers to have fun with, now I could meet ridiculous and fun people every day on this simple online game mode. Once I met someone in a Pennywise skin playing while acting with a Joker-style voice, another time there was George who couldn’t aim a gun properly even if his life depended on it, the donut shop owner, the guy that constantly became detective and would be all uptight about it for a whole minute until someone shot him. My favourite must be a guy who asked what the weather was like where I lived and it turned out he was from Wyoming and we laughed constantly together for the whole round.

This game has really given me the social interactions I have lost in 2020 due to Covid-19. As my high school friends moved on to study somewhere and I was mostly left on my own, Pavlov VR and later others have given me the ability to have a chat about the most mundane things in the most incredible environments with the weirdest people I have met on the internet and beyond. The ability to socialise with people through a common media experience was incredible. This is why I love VR. This is why I heart my media.

Daniel Schuju – 13281623

Published by deuzemedialife

Mediastudies, University of Amsterdam

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