Oculus VR founder and designer of the Oculus Rift, Palmer Luckey, has unveiled his latest virtual reality (VR) masterpiece: A headset that makes sure that if you die in the game, you die in real life.
Luckey explained in a blog post that he was halfway to completing his headset (which he has called NerveGear) – specifically, the half that will make the player dead.
The headset is essentially a regular VR headset hooked up to three explosive charges. The charges, fitted with a photosensor, are set to go off and kill the player when they die in whatever video game they are playing (hint: maybe choose Animal Crossing rather than Dark Souls). The explosives would be triggered to kill you when the screen flashes red at a specific frequency, which game designers would have to implement into the game.
"The idea of tying your real life to your virtual avatar has always fascinated me – you instantly raise the stakes to the maximum level and force people to fundamentally rethink how they interact with the virtual world and the players inside it," Luckey wrote.
"Pumped up graphics might make a game look more real, but only the threat of serious consequences can make a game feel real to you and every other person in the game. This is an area of videogame mechanics that has never been explored, despite the long history of real-world sports revolving around similar stakes."
Luckey, who created the device as an homage to the novel and anime series Sword Art Online, which uses similar tech as a premise, says he hasn't yet "worked up the balls" to use it yet.
He noted it's also not finished yet, adding: "This isn’t 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 headset."
Luckey says, rather ominously, that the headset is "at this point" just a piece of art, but that it's also the first VR device he's aware of outside of fiction that is capable of killing the user.
"It won’t be the last," he wrote, "see you in the Metaverse".