It’s a old trope in a lot of dumb sci-fi movies that involve virtual reality: you die in the game, you die in real life. In these films, the characters are trapped in a video game and must play for their lives. If their avatar perishes, so do they.
Well, it looks like someone intended to make that trope come true. In other words, someone has created a VR headset that literally stubborn if you lose a video game. Fun, right?
The Creator Isn’t Just Anyone But Palmer Luckey, 30-Year-Old Virtual Reality Prodigy, Advocate service providerTrump-funderand co-founder of Oculus, the Facebook virtual reality company bought in 2014 for the modest sum of 3 billion dollars.
Luckey dropped a blog post Sunday, explaining his strange new headset — which he says is mostly “desktop artwork” for now — and also included a photo of it.
For reference, it looks like this:
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For the Star Wars fan with everything.
These lightsabers powered by Neopixels, strips of LEDs that run inside the shape of the blade that allow for adjustable colors, interactive sounds, and changing animation effects when dueling.
Yes, this thing is actually going to end your life. Specifically, it’s rigged with bombs to make your head explode.
In his blog postLuckey explains how his deadly new contraption is supposed to work:
I used three of the explosive charge modules I usually use for a different project, linking them to a narrowband photo sensor that can detect when the screen is flashing red at a specific rate, making it very easy the integration of game-over from the developer. When an appropriate game screen is displayed, the charges fire, instantly destroying the user’s brain.
In other words, Luckey basically brought the plot of the nerdy mid-2000s animated webcomic to life, Sword Art Online. Indeed, Luckey says that this comic was the main source of inspiration for his project. In the comic, the characters wear a thing called “NerveGear”, which is an “incredible device that perfectly recreates reality using a direct neural interface that is also capable of killing the user”. They are then released in a matrix-like world by a mad scientist and forced to endure a “game of death” where the stakes of gameplay are tied to their own mortality. For Luckey, it’s an exciting idea:
The idea of linking your real life to your virtual avatar has always fascinated me – you instantly raise the stakes to the max and force people to fundamentally rethink how they interact with the virtual world and the players in it. Bloated graphics can make a game feel more real, but only the threat of serious consequences can make a game real for you and everyone else in the game.
Alright… well, youIt’s certainly an interesting idea, although some might argue that the fun of the game actually stems from being able to experience death-defying scenarios and not blow your head off. Some people might argue that.
Either way, whether it’s a good idea or not, Luckey seems intent on making his fun new hat even more horrifying than it currently is by adding “tamperproof” technology to it:
It’s not a perfect system, of course. I have plans for an anti-tamper mechanism that, like the NerveGear, will make it impossible to remove or destroy the helmet.
So the ultimate goal here is to create a killer helmet that you literally can’t take off. Once it’s been attached to your noggin, the only two scenarios you’ll be able to remove it in are A) where you win the game or B) where your decapitated corpse is dragged out of a heap of blood strewn rubble by any unfortunate soul who passes by. That’s probably why Luckey hasn’t used the thing himself yet. He says:
…there are a wide variety of failures that could occur and kill the user at the wrong time. That’s why I haven’t worked the balls out of using it myself, and also why I’m convinced that, like in SAO, the final trigger really should be tied to a high intelligence agent who can easily determine if the conditions of termination are indeed correct.
…At this point, it’s just a work of desktop art, a thought-provoking reminder of the uncharted avenues of game design.
Some will no doubt find this idea exciting while others (in fact, let’s be honest, most people) will probably be deterred from participating after reading the phrase “kill the user at the wrong time”. Unfortunately, I fall into the latter camp, though a grim cocktail of curiosity and schadenfreude will certainly see me watch the progress of this project for the foreseeable future.
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