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VR gaming wants to scare you to death
Imagine walking through a forest in the dark, alone. In the distance you see a dimly lit cabin. You approach it and peer through the door. Peering back at you is a little girl. She’s been waiting for you. Then the screaming starts.
“I would never do this in real life”
This is just one scene from Alone In The Rift, a game for the Oculus Rift VR headset. The screaming is from the people who play it, as captured in Mashable’s brilliant video below. As one of the gamers says before he approaches the cabin, “I would never do this in real life, I don’t know why I’m doing it in this type of reality”.
What’s perhaps interesting is how the players will scream and look away from the girl, but won’t immediately remember that they can remove their headsets. Instead they cower and plead, before entering the real world again towards the end of the video. Or, as detailed by The Penny Arcade Report, “They scream, rip off the headset, quit, and run away. All in one swift motion while seemingly laughing and crying at the same time”.
Nowhere to hide
Most of us will have experienced the eerie chill from playing games such as Resident Evil late at night with nobody else home. All it takes is for the cat to knock over a glass and you jump six feet in the air, then put Family Guy on for a bit to calm down. But imagine that zombie actually being in the room, as it runs at you with a chainsaw.
Or if not a zombie, then 10-foot-tall, flesh-eating space monsters. In Alien: Isolation, a game based on the iconic 1979 Ridley Scott film, you’re trapped on a spaceship full of the things, constantly looking over your shoulder for fear of death. As The Verge warned, “Its horror elements take advantage of how close things can feel in it – namely, the creature tearing you apart”.
10,000 times scarier than regular gaming
Joystiq reported on the prototype of Aliens: Isolation at the E3 gaming show in LA this month, declaring it “terrifying”, going on to say “those few dark minutes were easily 10,000 times scarier than the standard controller-and-screen version”. You know the Alien is near you when a red dot appears on your radar gun. As Joystiq says, when you see the dot, “Terror takes over immediately, even before the alien actually appears on-screen. The dot is fast, and soon after you see it, the alien sees you – and that basically means you’re dead”.
This all begs the question, will gamers shell out their hard-earned dollars for these experiences? We love being scared by horror films because we can see our friends and the cinema exit signs, but a lot of video evidence for VR horror suggests that the majority of users last one, maybe two minutes before throwing in the towel.
Even an innocent roller coaster simulation is enough to make the guy below completely lose it. Imagine getting a tap on the shoulder while playing Alone!
As gamer Patrick Klepek said after a night of playing games such as Dreadhalls (you’re in a dungeon, with no weapons and it’s dark) on the Oculus Rift, you must: “Stare forward and remember that you are completely, utterly alone”. He added, “I was sweating profusely, and had to take several breaks. I was uncomfortable, stressed out, and my shot nerves were sometimes making it hard to speak”.
Would you pay 50 bucks for that?