Experiencing Schizophrenia through Second Life

Second life is a virtual world in which you can experience many things.  This exercise today brought me into a building that was emulating a taste of Schizophrenia.  Never having used second-life, I didn’t know what to expect. It was much realer than I thought.

It constantly had voices talking to you, telling you to kill yourself, that you’re worthless, and negative things of that nature.  With the ability to have more than one voice active, I felt more immersed in this experience than I had initially.  It was haunting as it was something that hits a little close to home.  I liked how real the voices felt.  They didn’t seem phoned-in, or over-acted to the point that it wasn’t believable, it was taken very seriously.

The one thing I didn’t like was that the voices seemed to loop after a short period.  While this may be true to someone who suffers from schizophrenia, it was a little immersion breaking towards the end of the experience.  (Note: I went through all the interactions fairly quickly, and then spent some time walking around back through the house)

I think this is a very strong experience, held back by the technology.  As someone who has spent a lot of time in virtual worlds, I find it is harder to get a sense of immersion from the third-person perspective that second-life uses.  While this may be the case, the sound effects were scary real, and I think this can be a good experience for someone trying to understand Schizophrenia.


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