No matter how dark or bloody a videogame is, you can always log out, turn off the console, and call it a day. Well, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey would like to have a word about that. This entrepreneur has designed a chilling device: a VR headset that kills the player in real life if they die in 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 writes in a blog post. “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.”
That’s why he created Nervegear, which looks like a regular headset, until you notice the three “explosive charge modules” at the top, pointed at the user's skull. If the player dies in the game, the explosives go off, destroying the user's brain instantly. However, the system seems to work with a photosensor so, to be activated, the screen would have to flash red at a specific frequency, which game designers would have to implement on their end. “This is an area of videogame mechanics that has never been explored, despite the long history of real-world sports revolving around similar stakes,” he says.
Nervegear seems to be inspired by the novel and anime series Sword Art Online. The story features a VR set of the same name that allows users to control their in-game characters with their mind. However, after thousands of users log in at the same time, they realize they are not allowed to leave, and that removing the headset will kill them. “Gamers were trapped by a mad scientist inside a death game that could only be escaped through completion,” Luckey explains.
Luckily, the designer is aware of the obstacles his VR headset would meet, and has yet to design half the non-lethal elements of it on top of not having worked up the courage to test it out. Still, he wants to come up with an anti-tampering system, and warns his followers that this won't be the last creation of its kind. For now, he says he just sees it as piece of art.
Oculus founder Palmer Luckey designed Nervegear, a VR headset that kills the player in real life if they die in the game.
If you die in the game, you die in real life if you wear the headset that Oculus founder Palmer Luckey created in honor of Sword Art Online. pic.twitter.com/maCFMroD5B
— IGN (@IGN) November 8, 2022
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