Today, we live in the age of virtual reality. That’s right. Virtual. Reality. While it doesn’t sound very impressive in name alone, experiencing this world within our own is nothing to scoff at.
Many people believe that virtual reality is still a ways off for the normal person. However, this isn’t the case. There are several virtual reality headsets, ranging from high end pc to those you can use easily with your cell phone. While the bigger the price tag, the better the experience, even what you can get on your phone is pretty neat.
The argued best experience for virtual reality right now is with the headset called the HTC Vive. This setup includes base stations that track your movement, goggles to see into the new dimension, and controllers that allow you to interact with your new environment. This is the very headset that I was able to try out.
Putting on the headset and holding the controllers is the easy part. Becoming acclimated to the new world you now exist in is much more difficult. No matter how much you want to remember that there is a world outside of what you’re seeing (you know, the real world), you get so immersed in this new form of reality that you end up bumping into objects from your past life. For me, this was a couple of chairs and a bed frame.
What materialized before me was a familiar face. The face of Rick and the face of Morty from the adult swim show Rick and Morty. On the TV, these two characters are cartoons. Before me, they were human scale 3D models of cartoons. As I gazed down at my hands, they, too, were now 3D modeled cartoons.
I begin to investigate my environment. I can lift things. Activate mechanisms, like washing machines, sinks, levers, and pulleys. I can jump. I can crawl underneath obstacles. I can teleport. My mind knew it was a game, but it felt creepily real. I could make my virtual self eat. I could throw things, like bottles or bouncy balls. Lastly, I could die and respawn again. It was quite alarming when this first happened. I suppose now I can say that I have seen death. If you die in VR, you are most certainly not dead in real life.
After I explored my environment, I was given tasks to do. Feed some pets. Do some laundry. Fight intergalactic governments. All things I’d come to expect from a video game. But I was now the controller. I was in control of most of what I did. This took a lot of getting used to. I didn’t have feet, as they have no way to track that in VR. So I would constantly go to kick something or walk somewhere or step over something and it wouldn’t work. It would leave me baffled for a moment or two until I remembered what on Earth I was doing.
At the finish of my adventure with Rick and Morty, the headset was turned off and I returned to my old life a changed woman. Everything in the room wasn’t as vibrant as the virtual one. I was a little disoriented at first, but I quickly remembered how to be a normal human being again. I expected to have more vertigo, but I felt totally fine. I expected to have a headache as well, as the headset can be straining on your eyes. Again, no signs of one.
I did notice one thing I did not account for; the overwhelming desire to go back for round two.