By: Antonio Guillen
The tension mounts.
We’re expecting our first child any day now. The furniture is built, nursery gizmos are set, and the house is fairly clean. Now that I have some time to reflect. I have thoughts.
1. I’m blown away by how intense the preparation/nesting phase has been.
2. I wonder how much Animal Crossing play-time I’ll be getting in between diaper changes.
3. There are staggering parallels between VR and parenting.
Here are five ways VR is basically parenting.
1. It’s Expensive
Did you know?: The cost of raising a child is $233,610, excluding the cost of college. USA Today (2018)
If you’re like me, a serial early adopter, you know it takes a pretty penny to stay on the cutting edge of tech. In particular, the high cost of VR hardware has been a major barrier to entry. The Oculus Rift CV1 headset launched in 2016 for a whopping $599 and required a beefy computer.
Today more reasonably priced options exist, like the Oculus Quest ($399) which no longer requires being tethering to a PC, and Sony’s Playstation VR ($199 Black Friday sale). Now you may not have to take out a second mortgage to play Skyrim VR, but you still need to invest quite a bit to jump in.
Similarly, child-rearing has notoriously high start-up costs. To put it in a way gamers might understand, the ‘Newborn Starter Bundle’ costs $13,000 on average, that’s just the average cost for a baby’s first year. After that, you’re basically locked into a mandatory high-cost subscription.
Baby gear, clothes, medical bills, 800 thread count burp cloths, the sticker shock is real. Parenting is basically one big 18 year-long shakedown. From diapers to dance lessons, teethers to tuition, everything seems to cost way too much.
It begs the question, ‘Do infants need new Jordan’s, let alone shoes at all if they can’t stand or walk?
2. It’s Dirty
Did you know?: According to the National Eye Institute, roughly 400,000 Americans suffer from some type of ocular herpes. VRscout.com (2016)
Oh, you’re demoing the latest hot VR title at Pax? Congratulations! Booth assistants are thoroughly wiping down headsets between oily foreheads I’m sure, but since you’re their thousandth customer you’ve won a spin at the prize wheel of disease. Good luck!
Parenting involves wiping a lot of dirty ass. I remember the moment that the reality of years of impending poop duty hit me like a semi (pun). Sure a baby can go through an average of 2,200 diapers in the first year (Babylist.com 2019) but it’s more than blowouts isn’t it.
Parents are immersed in so many hazardous secretions and semi-solids you might as well be considered a certified biohazard chemist. I’ve witnessed a pod of two-year-olds unceremoniously take turns sneezing into each other’s faces and I know you have too.
Whether you’re picking up a VR headset, or your kid from school, make sure you have sanitizer at the ready.
3. It’s Not For Everyone
Did you know?: VR makes between 40% and 70% of people feel nauseated. ABC News, 2019
You know that couple. The one filling your social feed with pictures of the tropics every other month. You’ve lost count of how many tiny bowls of foreign gelato they’ve posted this year. Oh, the freedom that is the childless lifestyle.
The fact is, parenting isn’t for everyone. Some people like to travel, and some people like to procreate. There are tons of good reasons to go either way. For those that choose to remain spawn free, I respect and admire the choice (as we all should.)
I believe VR will be a catalyst for a revolutionary new era in gaming. While many of us will be along for the ride, there are those who can’t stomach the sensory conflict. A large percentage of people feel sick after 15min of simulated motion.
Fun Fact! Some researchers believe VR induced nausea stems from our bodies attempting to vomit what it believes to be a hallucination-inducing toxin.
As with parenting, VR just isn’t for everyone, and that’s ok.
4. It’s Great… At First
Did you know?: Nothing keeps ‘Big Diaper’ in power like the allure of a newborn baby.
I remember demoing VR for the first time. The immersive view of the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu took my breath away. I realized the potential of this technology and became a true believer.
Ducking in Superhot, sweating in Arizona Sunshine and Beat Saber; I’ll forever be chasing the high of my first few VR sessions. Sadly the magic wears off after a bit.
It’s the same concept with infants. We begin with the miracle of birth, a wonderful cocktail of overwhelming emotions of which there is no equal. For a precious few months its chubby legs, sweet little smiles, and tiny farts.
Next thing you know it’s ‘Dad I need bail money’ and ‘These are my boyfriends Francisco & Dave, we’re a throuple (no judgment here) and we need you to pay for our orthodox destination wedding.’
5. You Have To Experience It To Understand
Did you know?: First-time moms generally experience 6-12 hours of first stage ‘early labor’ and an average of 8 hours of ‘active labor’ verywellfamily.com, 2020
I just want it to be clear that what I’m sharing is all hear-say. I’m not a parent yet.
In fact, I’ve been writing this in between my wife’s contractions. She’s been having labor pains with our first child for at least one full day now…poor thing. ”You got this honey!” I call from across the room as I reach top 5 in Fornite on my Switch…but I digress.
If you’re reading this and you don’t have kids then I’m just like you. I’m working off second-hand information, stats on paper. I hear that when you have kids you’re changed forever.
I hear that like VR, becoming a parent is indescribable. You just don’t get it until you’ve experienced it for yourself, then you understand.