“The idea of tying your real life to your virtual avatar has always fascinated me — you instantly raise the stakes to the maximum level and force people to fundamentally rethink how they interact with the virtual world and the players inside it,” Luckey wrote in a blog post. “Pumped up graphics might make a game look more real, but only the threat of serious consequences can make a game feel real to you and every other person in the game.”
The killer headset is inspired by the Japanese anime series Sword Art Online, in which characters put on a NeveGear VR headset and discover that a mad scientist has trapped them in a virtual world. The players have to fight their way through a 100 floor dungeon to escape, with the catch being that if they die in the game, they die in real life.
Like the headset in SAO, Luckey’s VR headset will respond to a certain game-over screen that emits a lethal level of microwave charges which instantly destroy the player’s brain. But that’s all the progress Luckey has made in the project; he’s still ironing out the kinks to make sure that, you know, the headset doesn’t kill you unprovoked or something.
“This is why I have not worked up the balls to actually use it myself, and also why I am convinced that, like in SAO, the final triggering should really be tied to a high-intelligence agent that can readily determine if conditions for termination are actually correct,” Luckey went on, adding that he also has plans for an “anti-tamper mechanism” to deter any wimps.
Luckey’s blog post concludes: “At this point, it is just a piece of office art, a thought-provoking reminder of unexplored avenues in game design. It is also, as far as I know, the first non-fiction example of a VR device that can actually kill the user. It won’t be the last.” Respectfully, we’ll pass on this one.