Virtual Reality: Then and Now
Barbarian's Vs Dinosaurs in a digital world.
Author's note: My spell check is on the fritz so forgive me if more than a few words are misspelled. Barbarians are not known for good spelling.
Greetings from the wilderness of Pennsylvania! It is I, Hero the Barbarian! There is a common misconception that we barbarians are backward, primitive, club-swinging, savage brutes who know nothing about technology or modern life. It annoys me because this is so untrue. We use battle axes, not clubs. Cavemen use clubs, learn it people!
The other misconception is that we are not techno savy. Also not true. Like the Amish we Barbarians rub shoulders with technology every day. The only differance is Amish won't beat you to death for taking pictures without their permission. But I digress.
After reading Merritt the Ferrit's artical, Virtual Suicide, I was instantly transported back to the brief age of Virtual Reality. Nintendo's Vitrual Boy came on the scene at the end of the VR fad. Virtual Boy embodied everything that was wrong with VR and none of what was right. In fact I meet very few people that have had the chance to truly expeariance VR in all of it's glory.
Believe it or not, there was a time when Virtual Reality was thought to be the pinicale of video gaming technology. Seriously, doesn't this look like fun?
At the time, this thought seriously seemed to have creditbility. The graphics in most VR games were three dimentional. Somthing unheard of in an era of 16 bit games. Couple that with the hardware that imersed your sense in another world of sights and sounds. It was a breathtaking expeariance.
My first and only expeariance with this wonderous rabbit hole of adventure was on a trip to a mall. My parents and I happend upon a litteral VR arcade and decided to give it a try. The name of the game? Dactyl Nightmare!
Dactyl Nightmare was a first person shooter unlike anything I ever played, before or since. The graphics were primative by today's standards and the controls were sub par but the expeariance was incredible.
You started out in a mulit level arena shooting a single shot pistol at your foe. You could run, tuck and weve and take cover behind obsticales. But at random times a green peridactyle would swoop down and grab you before dropping you down to earth where you would splatter and reform elsewhere. It reminded me of the barbarian's early attempts at powered flight.
The equipment that made this possible was a large platform with a large ring of sensors that monitored your movements and kept your ass from falling off. The controls were a three button joystick, one button allowed you to to move, the trigger allowed you to shoot, the third button was just for show but it should have dispensed asprin.
The head set, the most important part was also the most painful. a 30 pound monstrosity was placed on your head. it came equiped with goggles, ear phones and a motion sensor that allowed you to stear with your head as well as look around. The problem was this head set employed the use of a crank strap similar to what a hard hat uses.
This may not seem like a big deal but the strap was directly connected to the goggles so this strap was directly squeezing the juice out of your eyes.
So what did my dad and I get out of all of this? My dad got motion sick, I had a bad headache and mom had a good laugh at our expense. And that was the downfall of VR. it's seizure inducing graphics and ridiculiously bulky equipment made it a huge downer. Plus to a lesser degree it was a lonely expeariance. In a time before the internet was commonplace, a two player VR game would take up 15 square feet of space.
So what became of all this VR technology? The Nintendo Wii. That is the legacy of the VR technology. Sleek smooth sexy (and in my opinion) neutered. Also Microsoft announced that it was developing it's own montion detecting technology for the XBOX 360, the perfered system of barbarians. The prototype Microsoft used to demonstrate, was remarkable to say the least. But nothing will every replace the vomit inducing awsomeness that was the original virtual reality expeariance. It was not only a ticket to another world but a test of physical endurance. So if your kid every laughs trumphantly after soundly kicking your ass at Wii tennis. Give me a call and let Hero the Barbarian put that little snot in his place. I will teach him respect for his parents as I regal him with tales of our sweat and tears that seizures that we expearianced so he could expeariance the quality gaming that we enjoy today.
At least I will once I'm done laughing at you for buying a game system named after the act of urinating. Seriously, the Wii?
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