Matt Heath: Boxing in a virtual world takes some beating

Publish Date
Monday, 10 December 2018, 8:31AM
NZ Herald

NZ Herald

Men have been beating the crap out of each other since before we were lobsters. We love it. We are evolved both mentally and physically for man on man fighting.

This can lead to problems. That's why we don't do it much anymore. Turns out people can get hurt when you punch them really hard in the face. Especially wimpy dudes like me.

Unlike the movies, real fights are generally grim humiliating affairs.

Shirts ripped off, screaming bystanders and punches that sound like dull slaps. Gross. Definitely not for the workplace. Terrible for productivity. So what do we do? Nature wants us to fight, society doesn't. The answer is simple. Virtual reality.

I've been playing Creed: Rise to Glory VR on my PS4 all week. I haven't been this happy in ages. Smacking a realistic 3d dude right in the face is so satisfying. He's right there in front of you, he looks big, he looks tough and you punch him right in his 3d face. It's so good. It's also a victimless crime.

Artificial guys have no families, no responsibilities, no feelings, no soul (well not yet anyway). So there's no cost to the taxpayer in terms of hospitalisation, policing or imprisonment. It's win win win.

Best of all you immediately gain perfect abs and massive arms in the game. It's a pleasure to look down at your new rendered body. VR boxing is also great for real fitness. Exercise is boring. Beating up dudes is not.

I can hardly write on this keyboard I'm sweating so much from the virtual work out I just did. Rocky Balboa really put me through my paces in a fully immersive 3d version of Philadelphia's Front Street Gym. It has dozens of bags to hit, a treadmill and a practice ring. It's large and spacious and it only takes up a metre of the actual world.

Then there are the fights. Some in-front of huge cheery crowds at massive virtual stadiums. You get so into it you'll find yourself celebrating a victory. Jumping up and down. Hands in the air. Emotionally pointing over at Rocky in your corner.

Like many New Zealanders, I've flirted with real boxing and failed. I trained for many years at a downtown gym. Sadly I was useless.

A terrible combo of unco and angry. I'd get so hyped up before sparring I'd be shagged before I got in the ring. Then I'd get clipped and fly into a pathetic red mist. Throwing wild baby like haymakers which invariably led to me getting knocked on my arse. Luckily a lack of fitness meant I could only fight for about 30 seconds at a time.

Then one-day my foxy boxing career went from bad to worse. Against no opponent, at all, I put myself in hospital. I popped a disc punching a heavy bag.

Had to get major surgery. If only I had had Creed: Rise To Glory VR I would have been sweet. Virtual boxing is the perfect option for talentless, wusses with an urge to fight like me. You can't hurt yourself or anyone else because it's not real.

Obviously, actual fighting means many magnitudes more emotionally and physically. If 1000 likes on your Instagram humble skite pix is equivalent to half a smile in real life. It's the probably the same in terms of VR hits to the head.

Still, men need to fight for the sake of our mental health. We aren't allowed to on the streets and can't be bothered going to a real boxing gym so this is the next best thing.

Obviously being completely immersed in a virtual world has its risks. You're standing in your lounge in your undies throwing your fists around deaf and blind to the world.

Someone could easily come in and rob your house, pull your pants down or worse, film you on their phones and share it. I imagine I look like a massive spoon in the real world whilst kicking arse in the virtual one. I suggest making sure everyone is out and the doors are locked.

You'll need to spend a bit of cash on gear. A PS4, the game, a VR Headset and Move Controllers. But it's totally worth it.

I think we can all agree that randomly beating real people up on the street isn't a good thing. Being beaten up even worse.

Thank God we live in a world that we can leave. Where we can take out our instinctual need for fighting on a bunch of pixels in a headset in our lounges. Get yourself a VR boxing setup. It's bloody good for the soul.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission.