Hey there, it’s Mihai. We all daydream of being in our favorite stories. Whether in a game, movie, book, comic or show, the feeling of taking part in a fantastic adventure comes naturally with liking an imaginary world. I, for one, always wanted to be in the Doctor Who universe as a companion or in the game Portal as the only human mechanic at Aperture. Helping GLaDOS and talking with her about science would be a blast!
Sometimes we feel so taken away by our imagination that the real world fades in the background. Unfortunately, our daydreaming can easily be ruined by external forces beyond out control. I am looking at you, neighbor with the drill…
Sure, you could get headphones and put on music to block out other noises or tell everyone to leave you alone for a time. But even so there is only so much your imagination can do.
For that, here comes technology to the rescue with THE VOID!
So… What is the VOID?
Think of it as going to the Haunted Mansion in an amusement park, plus a few things.
The equipment you are given is composed of a high-tech chest piece and gloves along with a fancy headset (similar to an Oculus Rift). Depending on the experience you want, you are given other things, such as guns or lamps. You are placed in an environment that will reproduce the physical aspects of your experience, such as humidity, vibrations, smells, etc. Your body movements are tracked and, through the headpiece, you are presented with the virtual reality that surrounds you.
If you still have trouble getting your head wrapped around the idea, you can watch the presentation video here.
Was that awesome or what?!
Well, yes and no.
On one hand there are the fun aspects: we get to live out our dream, even if in an artificial environment. The stages are carefully prepared to ensure the maximum level of immersion. Feeling the environment and seeing the world through the headset 360° are incredible advances in enhancing out experiences with games.
Just think about multiplayer! Fighting monsters in a dungeon with your friends or shooting one another on a space pirate ship. (Not actual game modes, sadly. One can only dream.)
Also, taking a step further, you can see this being implemented in a cinematic way. Movies as seen through the eyes of a character can dramatically change how we perceive certain events.
Mind = Blown
Then what’s the downside?
Sadly, the players.
When you think about how games have evolved over the years, what comes to mind?
Let’s take something classic like the Counter Strike series for example. Players became better at the game, graphics have improved with every new installment, tournaments are being slowly accepted as real sportive events. What else? People becoming too drawn to the games, cutting off other parts of their lives. Some refer to it as a “game addiction”, an unhealthy attachment.
I am not referring to the five year old that plays Mario all summer, but to the thirty-something year old man who is spending every waking moment of his life in a game. Now getting to my point, what is stopping such people from getting addicted to a digital world?
As with every invention, it can be abused. At the end of the day, it is us who are in control of our lives and of the things we do. Should such immersive experiences be available to the public? Yes.
What if some people are looking at it as a way of escaping reality? Well, the VOID Centers have a closing times and the cost to play a round will be pretty high. These are the things that hold back some of the negative implications regarding this brilliant invention. As time goes by, more precautions will be implemented to prevent the abuse of the device and sets. However, it is up to us as consumers to accept that this is not a toy nor a permanent way out of reality.
What we can take away from this is that The VOID can offer us a chance to live our dreams and experience the games we love closer then ever before, but it is up to us to accept that they are no more then that: dreams. We take the joy we felt from playing and bring it with us to the waking world.
Happy gaming. 🙂