It’s a old trope in a lot of stupid sci-fi movies about virtual reality: you die in the game, you die in real life. You’ve heard it before. 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 Trump-Obsessed 30-Year-Old VR Prodigy Palmer Luckey weirdand one of co-founders 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 weird new headset — which he says is mostly “desktop artwork” for now — and also included a photo of it.
For reference, it looks like this:
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 2006 horror movie Stupid to life. Stay alive, in which hapless gamblers stumble upon a video game that results in their murder if they lose. Or, more accurately, he realized the conceit behind a nerdy animated web comic from the mid-2000s, Sword Art Online, which he says was the main inspiration for the 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”. For Luckey, this is 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.
Righttttt… It’s certainly an interesting thought, although some might argue that the fun of the game actually stems from being able to put yourself in 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 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 a exciting idea while others (in fact, let’s be honest, most people) will likely be deterred from participating after reading the phrase “kill the user at the wrong time”. I unfortunately fall into the latter camp, even if curiosity is definitely will keep me monitoring the progress of this insane project for the foreseeable future.