Imagine if your character’s death in a video game also causes your demise in real life — such a scenario sounds like something right out of a horror flick or British dystopian series Black Mirror. Terrifyingly, it’s set to become reality. It is true that new-age simulated games and gaming sets are blurring the lines between the physical and virtual worlds. However, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is taking this to new extremes by claiming that his latest VR headset will literally kill the player when their gaming avatar or character dies.
In an ode to the famous Japanese light novel Sword Art Online, which was also adapted into an anime series, Luckey has developed this innovative VR (virtual reality) headset which can literally kill you, just like it happens in the novel.
More about this killer VR headset
The creator’s take on this gaming VR headset
The concept of videogames with physical consequences as severe as death are a sci-fi staple, but seen as beyond the pale in real life. Given the popularity of motorsports, extreme athletics, etc: Why?
— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) March 9, 2021
Putting all speculations to rest, Luckey blatantly put the description on his blog that says, “If you die in the game, you die in real life.” In the thrilling novel series, players reside in a giant immersive VR gaming universe. If they die in the video game, it kills them in real life as their brain gets “bombarded by extraordinarily powerful microwaves.” This happens as the players are attached to the ‘NerveGear’ VR head-mounted display set. Hence, the only way out is to win or find an escape route.
This new VR headset, the brainchild of Luckey, takes this grim concept straight out of the pages and screens into the real world. However, initial hiccups rose when he realised the gear had to be fitted to heavy equipment to carry out the lethal act. In this regard, he mentions in the blog, “In lieu of this, I used three of the explosive charge modules I usually use for a different project, tying them to a narrow-band photosensor that can detect when the screen flashes red at a specific frequency, making game-over integration on the part of the developer very easy.” When an “appropriate game-over screen” is flashed, the user’s brain will also be destroyed.
Development and building stage
If this has got you all frazzled and scared to even come close to your existing VR headpieces, don’t worry. Take a deep breath as this deadly killer machine is only in the research and development stage right now.
Luckey says, “The good news is that we are halfway to making a true NerveGear. The bad news is that so far, I have only figured out the half that kills you. The perfect-VR half of the equation is still many years out.”
He also has big plans for this and is hoping to add features such as an “anti-tamper mechanism” like in the Sword Art Online NerveGear. However, testing these features can lead to death, which is why he himself hasn’t tried them out yet.
Who is Palmer Luckey and what is Oculus?
Luckey is the original founder of Oculus, a VR firm, which he later sold to Meta, Facebook at that time, in 2014. The company was launched just two years before it was sold for a whopping USD 2 million. While at the helm of affairs at Oculus, Luckey also created Oculus Rift and other VR tech which became a major impetus for Meta’s breakthrough in the metaverse. After selling the company, he has worked extensively in developing national defence technology.
(Main and featured image: Palmer Luckey)