Virtual reality, or VR as it’s often referred to as, is really taking off. The Oculus Rift VR headset is making headlines from all the crazy projects it is making possible, including one to let people fly like a bird, and as a result it has gone from its beginnings as a humble Kickstarter project to a large industrial-scale enterprise worthy of being bought for $2 billion.
While I’ve seen several Oculus Rift projects I’d love to play myself some day, the things I really want to see being developed just aren’t happening. Or at least if they are, I haven’t heard of them yet.
So I thought I’d make my own list and hope that these are already underway somewhere, or that someone reads this and thinks “What a great idea, let me apply my skills at game development to make exactly this!”. Since, you know, I would totally do it myself but I can barely program my alarm clock, nevermind a game.
Anyway, here are five games or “virtual experiences” I’d very much like to have with an Oculus Rift strapped to my head some day, either because I think being duped into believing these scenarios are actually happening sounds cool, or because I think they’d make for a far-better alternative to a plain old educational videos.
#1: Flying like Superman
I want to fly; not like a bird, but like Superman. I want to strap on an Oculus Rift and feel like I am flying unassisted to international destinations at the speed of a fighter jet. I’d also like to control how fast I fly, and be able to fly anywhere I like. Basically, I want to fly through an accurate model of the Earth with my hands held heroically out in front of me, just like The Man of Steel.
It could totally work, too, as we already have Google Earth and the physical platform used in the Birdly project for people to lie on; all we need is an Oculus Rift app that marries the two concepts.
#2: Falling from a skyscraper
This one is a little darker. Okay, a lot darker. I want to virtually simulate the sensation of falling to my death from a really tall skyscraper. All that would require is a 3D city featuring buildings I can jump off and one of those vertical wind tunnels that blow air hard enough to support a person’s body weight while air screams realistically past their ears.
My ideal scenario would be to kick the simulation off by jumping into the vertical wind tunnel’s air stream while the Oculus Rift shows my point of view as throwing myself off the building, which should trick my mind into believing I am really falling. Then, right at the point of impact (if I haven’t died of fright by that point), the screen will go black and I’d like someone to hit me with a big foam block to punctuate the end of the fall with something I can actually feel.
Who’s with me?
#3: Birth seen from the inside
Here’s another somewhat off-the-wall suggestion: seeing what it’s like to be born from the perspective of the baby, complete with muffled grunts and screams heard through the dampening effect of having virtual amniotic fluid in your ears. Until, of course, the amniotic sac bursts and air hits your little eardrums for the first time. You’ll start off in the womb, and experience what it’s like to be slowly expelled from it by contracting uterus muscles until your little head pokes out of that sweetest of exits. It’ll be a super-fast birth every time, of course, because who really has sixteen hours to sit around waiting. It’ll also be a little better-lit than the real thing so you can see what’s happening.
On second thought, maybe not.
4: A tour of the human body as if I’m a tiny flying sub
Having thoroughly enjoyed both 1987’s Innerspace and 1966’s Fantastic Voyage, I think VR offers the best-possible way for the average person to fly through the human body as if they were a little sub. Or a red blood cell.
With medical imaging technology able to offer realistic depictions of what we look like on the inside and 3D graphics technologies that are almost photo-real, I see no problem with a talented game studio creating a huge 3D model of the human body, complete with working systems for gamers/researchers/medical students to “fly” through.
I’d love to be propelled down tunnel-sized blood vessels at the equivalent of hundreds of kilometres per hour, as if I were a single blood cell, but with the option to stop off to visit the lungs, the brain, the liver and other places of interest that I’ll never seen for real.
#5: Superpower simulator
This last one is perhaps the most “gamey” of the bunch. I think it’d be beyond cool to walk around a virtual city in a first-person view with superpowers that let me break buildings, lift cars, punch holes in walls, blast lasers from my eyes and any other superpower you care to name. Yes, even flying. You’d need one of those VR treadmills that let you physically walk (otherwise the illusion won’t be convincing) and perhaps some sort of robotic arm or elaborate cable-and-harness system to hold you aloft as you simulate jumping over buildings, but I reckon it’s totally doable.
Have you had an idea for a virtual reality simulation you’d like to experience? Let us know on the forums.