The creator of the Oculus Rift has built a VR headset that can kill you for real

The creator of the Oculus Rift has built a VR headset that can kill you for real

Palmer Luckey, creator of the original Oculus Rift headset, says he modified a VR headset in such a way that it could kill the user for real. The provocative art project is inspired by anime Sword Art Online in which players trapped in virtual reality die for real if they die in the virtual world.

In the anime Sword Art Online, November 6, 2022 is the day the VRMMORPG goes public, and the same day players learn of the dire circumstances of their situation. As the story goes, unbeknownst to those who joined the game, the NerveGear VR headset they wear will kill them in real life if they die in the virtual world. They will also die if someone tries to remove the helmet from their real body.

Although there is a long history of VR-based anime, Sword line art became popular around the time the Oculus Rift was beginning to gain traction with its 2012 Kickstarter record.

Luckey, the creator of the Oculus Rift, recounts the many people who asked him if he knew about the anime Sword Art Online when he was getting the newly founded company, Oculus, off the ground. Not only did Luckey know about the show, but he became something of a mega-fan…the kind who would receive action figures of him and his wife dressed as the show’s main characters as wedding gifts.

Thanks to Luckey’s unique experience as a virtual reality pioneer, mega-fan of Sword Art Onlineand later the founding of a defense technology company, there could hardly be anyone more apt to do what was to follow…

On November 6, 2022, this important date in Sword Art Online—Luckey claims to have made a helmet capable of killing its user via three explosive charges that could be detonated if the player dies in virtual reality.

A photo of the helmet – a modified Quest Pro – which Luckey claims can kill its user | Image courtesy of Palmer Luckey

[…] 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.

Luckey believes that the ultimate realism of virtual reality can only come from such extreme stakes.

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.

For now, Luckey calls the project “a work of desktop art,” but seems interested in pursuing the idea even further…even if he’s not ready to wear the thing himself.

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. Even so, 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.

A work of “art”, indeed, although Luckey tells On the way to virtual reality than explosives and the trigger mechanism of the helmet actually workrather than being purely conceptual.

Although the idea seems rather morbid at first glance, Luckey argues that it is no different from the extreme consequences that underlie some extreme sports. “This is an area of ​​video game mechanics that has never been explored, despite the long history of real-world sports revolving around similar issues,” he writes.

While this appears to be his first concrete step towards a headset that could kill the user, it’s not the first time he’s come across the idea of ​​a VR game with real-world consequences for players. .

In 2017, Luckey explained how he was drawn to the concept of tying his virtual mortality to his actual mortality, saying he was interested in building a game that enforces “serious outcomes” (short to death, but always significant) to the user to raise the stakes of the game.

The setting of [Sword Art Online] was ‘If you die in the game, you will also die in the real world’. This setting became apparent right after launching SAO. This is a very extreme result. If a player makes the wrong decision, he will have the result of his death. It’s different from a normal game where you just shoot stuff, and it doesn’t matter when you die because you can just respawn countless times.

Right after hearing the concept of SAO, I was drawn to it. Even now, after several years, I’m thinking about the concept of a game in which you have the same serious results in the real world as in the game world. It’s going to cause a “real result” that makes the game “real”. It’s a game in which no mistakes are allowed, you have to seriously think about everything.

There are a few examples of hyper-niche games that have relatively serious consequences, such as lose/lose which not only deletes itself from your computer when you lose, but also deletes random files on your computer each time you kill an enemy. There are also hardcore “permadeath” MMO players who have sworn to delete their characters if they die in-game, which could mean hundreds or even thousands of hours of their life lost if they keep their promise. .

Although Luckey received a miniature of him wearing Kirito’s clothes, the hero of Sword Art Online, one has to wonder if Kayaba Akihiko, the villain of the story, could have been just as appropriate… Luckey even uses a photo of Akihiko as his Twitter avatar.

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