October 21, 2014

So What Happens if I Take the Red Pill with a Blue Pill Chaser? Experiencing the Matrix Through Oculus Rift

"This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more."
 - Morpheus, The Matrix

I'm falling.

Help! Some 50 stories up, I was told to jump... leap across other buildings. I can't. Now there is no noise but the buildings whizzing by then a thud as I hit the ground, and bounce. Try again. This is a different kind of video game. A game you have to play with your mind rather than a controller in your hands. How do you make it to the other side?


Last week I had the privilege of receiving an invitation to meet one of the creators of the Matrix VR (Virtual Reality) for Oculus Rift, and try it out first-hand. Tipatat Chennavasin, UX designer and developer, with his team, Eric Beyhl and Jon Dadley, have given us all free and open access to their creation, and I was lucky to experience how it was meant to be played.


"You know," Chennavasin casually tells me," this game helped cure my fear of heights". Then I had the headset on and there was nothing but silence and blackness. Better sit down for this one.




Here is a peek into what I saw, and interacted with, however this tiny snippet does not even come close to experiencing it first hand, which I highly recommend.


And I'll be the first to admit I wasn't really prepared for what I did experience. As you can see from the pics, I came out of the demo a little bit frazzled. In shock of experiencing something that I think my mind is still trying to grasp. Complete immersion inside a new universe, a different type of reality, a gaming game-changer.


Whoa. A little unsteady on my feet from the motion...


I can't really find the words to talk about what it's like to be back. It's just...different now.


Do you remember Total Recall? The 1990 version with Arnold Schwarzenegger of course. When a red pill is offered to Schwarzenegger's character, Douglas Quaid, he is told "it's a symbol - of your desire to return to reality."

I'll be honest, what freaked me out more than anything, not the falling nor being shot by the system Agents in the head, but the fact that I really didn't want to leave this other world. The fact that I really didn't want to return to reality...I can't describe it except that I just wanted to keep playing. 

Virtual Reality has something very exciting to offer, and if you want to be a part of of this community, you can pre-order the dev kit here, and I hope that you follow Chennavasin and his team's lead by keeping it open and free for everyone to try. This is really just the beginning of the beginning of the end and we don't quite understand the power behind this wearable tool yet. 

When I was younger, I learned pretty quickly that in order to not fall when dropping your skateboard down a ramp or into a bowl, the trick was to look ahead - never down. If your mind anticipated the drop, your body would follow. If you can trick your mind into a different reality, one where falling is not an option - just anticipating yourself moving from point A to point B - the ride will be smooth.

Playing a game inside a virtual reality headset is quite similar to board sports, it seems you have to learn how to play with your mind.



If you do get a chance to play, just remember this advice, "You must look straight ahead, and not back or down. That is the secret." - Chennavasin

Demo available here for download here