Virtual reality will make experiences so real that they register in the mind as real experiences. This can be a wonderful thing, and certainly this is going to be part of the human experience generally in the very near future. This article outlines one of the related issues for industry professionals, law makers, players, parents and educators to take into consideration.
When you combine the realism of virtual reality and the ability for players to create their own experiences, it becomes not only possible, but likely, that players or authors will adversely impact other players in real life.
For example, teens could visit a virtual world together using avatars that are customized to look like them. If some of those avatars are murdered, the experience might register with the players as nearly as traumatic as if they witnessed actual murder. This might sound silly, since death in video games is hardly traumatic. But, witnessing something in a sandbox virtual reality world will be nearly indistinguishable from witnessing something in real life. Events will happen around you in 360 degrees and at real life scale.
As game worlds or virtual worlds become more central to life, even impacting players comfort level inside the world can be damaging. For example, an employee might be nervous returning to a virtual world for work, after just having had a bad experience in the same or a similar world recreationally.
At risk groups: