Virtual Reality Arachnophobia Therapy Is A Definite Nope

Virtual Reality Arachnophobia Therapy Is A Definite Nope

Virtual reality experience Arachnophobia is an application aimed at helping people overcome "irrational fears" of extremely venomous and aggressive spiders. After playing for five minutes, I've decided to hang on to my fear a bit longer.

I am not fond of spiders. As I've explained previously, this is partly because spiders are the bite-sized living embodiment of evil. Coupled with my large frame, which increases the amount of spiders that could be hiding on my person at any time (SHC — Spider Hosting Capacity), anything fuzzier than a daddy long-legs pretty much paralyzes me with fear.

Arachnophobia, released on Steam earlier this week by IgnisVR, wants to help me overcome my fear.

Arachnophobia is a VR application within the field of health and psychology, a 'self-controlled' virtual reality exposure therapy session where you gradually expose yourself to spiders.

It bears noting that just about everyone gradually exposes themselves to spiders at some point in their life. They are everywhere. In your bedroom, under the seat of your toilet, in your air conditioning vents, laundry baskets, under the seat of your car — odds are good that a spider has seen you naked at some point, and they probably were not impressed. They like a good set of pedipalps. You do not have pedipalps.

I hope you do not have pedipalps.

This is all beside the point. Can a virtual reality application help me overcome my fear of spiders? I doubt it.

Arachnophobia basically ties you to a chair and glues your hands to a desk. A comforting sign warns you that you are about to be exposed to some of the most venomous and aggressive creatures on the planet. This is not how you begin date. Well, not the second half.

Virtual Reality Arachnophobia Therapy Is A Definite Nope

The sign completely undermines the process. These are not daddy long-legs. They are not the garden spiders that are as big as your hand but everyone tells you are completely harmless. They are not tarantulas, the spider equivalent of a stuffed animal. These are deadly creatures.

If your office is filled with deadly creatures, leave the office. Do not glue your hands to the desk and just sit there.

Arachnophobia has five levels. In level one there are no spiders. I like level one. It's nice. Level two introduces a single spider in a jar, which is ok until it starts to move. I immediately got the urge to pick up the jar and throw it out of the closed window, only my hands would not move.

Virtual Reality Arachnophobia Therapy Is A Definite Nope

Level two adds two more spiders to the jar, which felt like more than enough spiders to overpower a jar. The simulation helpfully provides anti-venom and a first-aid kit. I started looking to them at this point. Since my hands could not move, I was not reassured.

Virtual Reality Arachnophobia Therapy Is A Definite Nope

Level three removes the jar and lets two spiders loose on your desk. Two deadly, aggressive spiders, just wandering about your frozen hands. One of them stared at my fingers, actively anticipating their taste.

Virtual Reality Arachnophobia Therapy Is A Definite Nope

At this point I panicked, because panicking was the right thing to do. If real life had a "Less spiders" option I would never take my eyes off of it.

I lasted about five seconds in level four.

Virtual Reality Arachnophobia Therapy Is A Definite Nope

If you ever find yourself in this situation, take a picture before setting the place on fire and diving through the window. Should you survive the fall, show it to the emergency crews. They will give you a medal and let you pet their dalmatian.

Virtual Reality Arachnophobia Therapy Is A Definite Nope

Much better than a spider. (Source) I did manage to make it to level five, but only after removing my Vive headset and wearing it on my imaginary second head.

Virtual Reality Arachnophobia Therapy Is A Definite Nope

In this situation you are dead. There is no door in the room IgnisVR has created. Spiders cover the desk, the floor and the walls. If you look up, they are crawling along the ceiling. They crouch atop the first-aid kit. One guards the anti-venom, daring you to move your hand, which of course you can't. I have had nightmares exactly like this.

Now I realise that this isn't an app designed to breeze through in five or six minutes. The idea is to sit with the spiders at each level and learn their ways. Eventually (and this is pure speculation) they will accept you as one of their own, allowing you to watch their young while they hunt for food.

I do not want to be relaxed around spiders, especially not the sort of spiders presented in this application. These are the sort of spiders that get Australia to ban episodes of animated children's programming.

You don't treat pyrophobia but putting someone in the middle of a house fire. You don't shoot a person suffering from ballistophobia (fear of bullets). I can't see how strapping me to a chair and sprinkling murderous spiders liberally about my office is going to do anything other than give me nightmares and amuse the viewing public.


    My pulse kept going up and up as I read this article. Each picture raised it a little bit more.


      I'm not generally scared of spiders, but waking up with a red back in my pants yesterday was not a great start to the day!

    I went to spider village in Cambodia. When I looked away for a moment some children placed tarantulas on my chest. That was an experience (of horror). I can still feel the weight of them on my clothes and see them running around.

      Heheh when we were there on honeymoon, I did get the reputation as the person who would try stuff.

      Beef in red ants? No worries.

      Rat and snake off the barbeque? Delicious.

      Crickets? Go on then.

      Deep fried tarantula? Nope. Nopenopenope.

      I did redeem myself by tucking into a chicken embryo in Batambong, though.

        Man, I couldn't try them either. Everyone was all "oh it tastes like hairy jerkey. THAT SOUNDS AWFUL.

          I'm not even arachnophobic, and was happy to hold a live one. Like huntsmen, they're pretty placid.

          And if someone had said "Crack the shell, here's your little spider fork" I'd probably have been fine.

          But biting into whole spider, non. Nein. Nyet. Oxi. Nay. Nope.

        Chicken embryo... so... an egg?

          Half-way to hatching. Yolk still attached.

          Most chicken eggs are sterile. People don't normally eat fertilised eggs.

          Last edited 07/06/16 8:17 am

            Yeah, I know, I was being glib. :P

              Ah. :) Internet sarcasm filter fail.

              *kicks filter, orders new one from ebay*

      I would have grabbed one of those children and used him/her as a club to beat the other children to death.

        Taken out of context, that sounds bad. In context, it sounds perfectly reasonable.

      I was ready to get out of my comfort zone in the spider village, going to try some deep fried spider, not going to freak out. Then I got there, saw a couple of dozen tarantulas, very quickly lost my appetite and applied all my remaining willpower to not freak out until we were back on the bus. That place is a whole lot of nope.

    I want the reaction vid. Where's the enjoyment in this if I can't see the sufferer... suffering?

      Came for the vid and found it's not here, didn't read a word of the article. The gif is a bit misleading.

    Funny, I discovered a huntsman in the upper corner of my bedroom 30 mins ago.


    Them fucking gangly, hairy bastards. I don't care if they're harmless and (so I'm endlessly told) act as pest control by feeding on other spiders and insects in the house, I DON'T WANT THEM INSIDE!!!!

    Over coming phobias by facing them is pretty much debunked these days and has been shown to make the condition worse than before.

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