I’ve Seen the Future — and It’s Incredible
Last week I had the opportunity to experience The Void’s(www.thevoid.com) Beta group … um … wow.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with what The Void is, let me take a moment to explain; it is what I can only describe as a “cyber-physical” virtual reality experience. Worlds are created (I went through “Dimension One”, picture a cross between Indian Jones & Tomb Raider) that incorporate visual experiences, temperature fluctuations and physical interactions. Forget about what you have heard about the Oculus Rift, Google cardboard and other VR pretenders, this stuff … it’s the real deal. I’m sure many will extoll the merits of the portable, affordable and in home system; my answer is, those people just haven’t had a chance to experience the future that the Void promises. Yes, I am aware that I sound like a fan boy but its hard to experience it and not realize that your world just changed forever, that the future of entertainment and a whole slew of other industries has been altered because a group of guys in Lindon Utah of all places, dared to push the boundaries of what was and will be possible.
The Dimension One experience is only 5 mins long and starts with stepping through a portal into an Aztec- like temple and ends with fleeing from a perilously dangerous room, and being sucked (depressingly) back into reality. I always fancied myself as an Indiana Jones kind of guy, but after my experience in D1 I’ve sadly realized that would have been dead by the end of the opening credits and I should stick badly written Medium posts instead.
The Void team has put a huge amount of effort into the details for Beta, almost like they trump the more obvious things and they will be slotted in later (like the poly-lawnmower man style appearance of your adventure partner). From the real time illumination and shadows of the ruins that react to you moving the physical torch that you’ve picked up, to the jarring elevator ride out of the cooled waterfall chamber, the Void, quite literally sucks you in … if you’ll pardon the pun.
“You have to engage, you want to engage”
There is an subtle mental “buy in” point, where your mind transitions from, “I know that this is basically a glorified video game” to “where are we going, what happens next?” to being fully committed to it’s immersive experience. One of its greatest attributes is that it doesn’t just happen to you, you have to happen to it. You have to engage, you want to engage, unlike a video game where I can find a safe place for my character to hide and I can do something else, the Void commands that I interact or leave, its not a spectators movie experience, and that, is why its awesome. Cyber-physical actions, trigger real time digital interactions and multi sensory experiences that draw you in to the adventure.
As a kid growing up in the UK, my post school Friday TV preference was a program called Knightmare, its premise was that the adventurer or dungeoneer was blinded by an oversized horned helmet and audibly guided by the other team members remotely. As they went from room to room they were able to interact with physical items in a very 80's/early 90’s digital video environment (sound familiar?) until they met an untimely demise due to the poor instructions of the team or a monster killed them! Yes, I am aware that I have done an absolutely terrible job of explaining it so here’s a link to a clip from series 1 in all its glory. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jls0kCeadQs
Perhaps one of the most alarming things for me, was taking off the helmet at the end, turning round and realizing that I had been walking round an area that had a 30x30 ft footprint for the last 5 mins. Apparently in the D1 experience I had walked around that space 2 1/2 times, not ridden an elevator and forgotten that the attendants running the experience could here every dumb word that came out of my mouth since I didn’t really “go” anywhere.
These guys have done such a phenomenal job in weaving together the user experience in the Beta version, its hard to imagine what it looks and feels like in 12, 18 or 36 months. Whilst I know I am dramatically overstating when I say this, it feels like The Void will change everything (ooh, it’s gone all Matrix. Where’s Neo …?), recreation, sports, education, warfare and who knows what else, all I know is I can’t wait to see whats next for the guys in Lindon Utah, that have elected to undertake this monumental challenge.
My only request to the makers would be, could you hurry up and make a VR Star Wars already, I might make a terrible Indy, but you know I’d absolutely kill it as Han Solo … right?!