Computers in Human Behavior
While virtual reality environments have been shown to reduce pain, the precise mechanism that produces the pain attenuating effect has not been established. It has been suggested that it may be the ability to command attentional resources with the use of head mounted displays (HMDs) or the interactivity of the environment. Two experiments compared participants’ pain ratings to high and low levels of electrical stimulation while engaging in interactive gaming with an HMD. In the first, gaming with the HMD was compared to a positive emotion induction condition; and in the second experiment the HMD was compared to a condition in which the game was projected onto a wall. Interactive gaming significantly reduced numerical ratings of painful stimuli when compared to the baseline and affect condition. However, when the two gaming conditions were directly compared, they equally reduced participants’ pain ratings. These data are consistent with past research showing that interactive gaming can attenuate experimentally induced pain and its effects are comparable whether presented in a head mounted display or projected on a wall.