If you know your consumer VR, then you probably know the name Palmer Luckey. If you don’t, he’s the guy who came up with Oculust and the Rift headset, and sold the company to Meta, back then still known as Facebook. Now primarily a defense contractor (read: weapons maker), Luckey has come up with the weirdest VR headset – one that kills you if you die in game.
The headset itself looks unremarkable besides the three pipes poking out of the top. These are reportedly explosive charge modules aimed and the wearer’s forehead. Naturally, if it goes off, it will punch a hole into your head so big you might as well have lost your entire head.
In his blog post, Luckey attributes this abomination of a creation to the popular series Sword Art Online, which he also claims made VR popular in Japan. He says that while he is halfway to making a real NerveGear, he has only figured out the killing half. He also couldn’t do it the original way, which is done via microwave, so that tech was substituted with explosives.
Setting aside the messed up nature of upping the stakes of a medium meant to help escape the stakes of reality, this idea is flawed on a few levels. For one, if consumer VR worked anywhere close to as well as the NerveGear is depicted in SAO, VR will be a much bigger thing than it is now. The kind of action, and speed in which they happen, is far from the reality of today’s level of VR, what with all the latency.
Secondly, this fantastical, but ideal, implementation of VR allows the wearer to disengage their real body while they interact with the game world. Far from achievable by today’s VR.
All that aside, Luckey claims that for now, this killer VR headset remains as a “thought-provoking reminder of unexplored avenues in game design”. And while it’s the first, it won’t be the last headset that can kill the wearer. I’m pretty sure we will want such avenues to remain unexplored.
(Source: Palmer Luckey)
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