I Have No VR and I Must Scream

The Future eats the Past

[Nostalgia meets horror meets happiness here in this beautiful thought journey from Manchild. Walk through the garden path of his mind.  ~Occams]

The other day I got to launch my way up a girls arsehole like a good ol’ fashioned astronaut. No, really. She was a Czech model who had been payed to pose and be filmed in 3D. And with the HTC Vive, I was able to look at her in three whole dimensions in a way I’d never seen a naked girl before. The pose she was in left little to the imagination, and it said to me with subtle suggestion, “Come. Climb inside my rectum.” (Why? Why would I do that? Because you can. And you shouldn’t.)

Everyone else in the room who was watching and could see my filthy curiosity was a little disturbed by it. But that is the moment I was sold on the experience of virtual reality.

Like trying to play Elite: Dangerous and getting my friends multi-million dollar ship blown up in a conflict zone, it all made me a little sick to my stomach. Porn is maybe best viewed at a distance, where everything feels fake, disconnected, objectifying. I could see flecks of dust on that girl’s nylons and that solidified it in some kind of reality. I felt bad we hadn’t gone for coffee first. I wondered what her father would think. And my uneasiness led me to another conclusion; maybe this is good for all the weirdos out there who are looking for pure escapism?

Maybe getting closer to reality will actually make it difficult to do disturbing things? I’m checking out every orifice of a model in 3D who has no will to reject my advances or move. I can’t imagine what it would be like if it were a snuff simulator, and someone gave me a virtual gun and said “now shoot her.” Long live the new flesh. The Videodrome future has arrived, and I don’t think I’m desensitized enough yet to handle it.

And then it dawned on me. I got closer and paused, stared at her for a moment, at that glassy eyed doll stare and saw her features begin to shift slightly.

“Jesus Christ, she’s breathing.

I had to get out.

The whole VR “thing” is interesting to me precisely because of the nostalgia it embodies. Most of my time as a kid with a Nintendo in the early nineties was spent imagining new ways to play games. And every time a new piece of quickly defunct technology was announced, I would stare at the treatment given to it in my favorite magazine and just wonder at the possibilities.

The most poignant for me was the announcement of Sega VR; a headset peripheral for the Genesis that promised to make all my dreams of running around in a low polygon cube world come true. It never came. Not long after Nintendo released the Virtual Boy, and that was objectively trash. Within minutes I felt uncomfortable, and the red and black color scheme left plenty to be imagined. But I was intrigued, ready for the world to come.

Computer generated cartoons were hitting their stride at that point, and YTV would air a little series of CG vignettes in between certain shows, one particularly cool one a camera on the front of a train that would travel through moderately interesting low polygon locales. It was my own personal VR simulator for a time before my imagination was stressed to its tender limit, but I felt that VR wouldn’t be too far off in the distance.

I was dead wrong, obviously.

The next mention I got of VR was years later when Sony released a little headset that touted high resolution screens; not stereoscopic 3D mind you, just a screen that would be strapped to your face to offer a more immersive experience. It wasn’t what I wanted either, so I didn’t bother.

And here we are today.

I’ve been saying two things.

One: The PlayStation VR is the best shot we have right now at “normalizing” this technology. It’s relatively cheap in comparison to other headsets, it’s already centralized in the living room for most since many PS4 owners are using the console as part of their home entertainment system, and so cost is not nearly as much as a barrier. I helped my friend upgrade his computer recently to better work for the Vive. 900 dollars later, he had a much better video card for his money and was ready to play a wider selection of games. Of course he had to spend around a thousand dollars for the Vive, but who’s counting here?

(Well, I guess I was; but only to get an estimation of how much a similar setup would cost which was slightly offset by the added element of being gored to death with a kitchen knife if my wife were to discover I’d made us damn near broke.) With the PSVR, that isn’t as much of an issue.

Two: It needs to have killer games. Amazing games. This is not the time to be pumping out tech demos. This technology needs to be proven and proven early that it isn’t another Wii U or it’s going to flounder. It’s a product that exists in a market with some demand, but if we want the VR Cyberpunk revolution to happen, it has to get better. Fast. 4K screens in the headset are the next logical step but again, without really solid games this shit is going nowhere. And I want to see it go somewhere.

Three: Okay, I said two. But point number three is I want in on the ground floor. I am nervous about Sony handling this technology since they don’t exactly have a reputation for supporting their own tech. I think it has just as much a chance of failure as it does success. But I want to get in early. Ride that tiger. All the way to fucking oblivion with Battlezone at my side and my phallus – I mean PS Move controller – Firmly, wetly, in hand.

I’ve never despised a term more than “adulting”. It’s an admission of immaturity in many ways.  We have boiled necessary basic adult tasks down to something reluctant because many of us spend so much time seeking out escapism and entertainment, nostalgia and cheap thrills. But it’s telling that the child part of my lizard-brain is excited for VR. Specifically, the possibility of using the technology to play video games I imagined as a child so much that I want to skirt my responsibilities and drop a thousand dollars on hardware that has no remote guarantee of surviving the next fiscal year. But I am pulled, like an invisible force tugging at my lapel into the oblivion of irresponsibility and escapism.

I am driven to see the many wonders the proverbial Lemarchand’s box Sony has concocted has to offer me despite the nausea and discomfort I felt much of the time in my VR experience. The knowledge of price versus value, the knowledge that this technology will improve very quickly and these “baby’s first VR” helmets will be filling a landfill in the not so distant future. I want to embrace the computer overmind, jump in and cruise the superinformation highway, and play Mortal Kombat with a friend in Vietnam. I know what it has the potential to do. I can see it now, see what it will turn me into.

I am a soft jelly thing, fattened up on Doritos and Mountain Dew. There are blue LED’s where my eyes used to be. Outwardly: I swing a PlayStation Move controller dumbly through the air pretending to deflect low polygon count triangle projectiles as drool pools in the corner of my slack jawed mouth. Inwardly: a girl named Candy spreads her anus in front of me so close I can damn near see her stomach walls.

I know this is my fate. I know that others will escape and go on to do other things with their lives while I wait. While I count my dollars until the day I can go to the store and drop a paycheck on tech that will be dead before the year is out. I have criticized Sony for their blunders in the past but…Sony has won, simply. They have me in their pocket. My time has been badly spent and I am too much of a manchild to say no to the Vaporwave simulation that infests my childish, nostalgic dreams. Sony has taken their revenge.

I have no VR. And I must scream.

Joel Peterson