Virtual reality

Brian bought a PlayStation Virtual Reality headset today while I was at work, and a copy of Skyrim for it – a sword and sorcery game, for those who don’t play computer games. Now we are both lying next to one another on the sofa, both a bit green in the face, both occasionly doing mini belches, both very happy that the screen is firmly switched off for the night. The only coherent sentences we are uttering are to ineloquently express to one another how terrible we feel. “My head hurts.” “I feel sick.” “Oh God.”

Earlier this evening I threw the headset off, staggered to my bedroom, hurled all my clothes onto the floor, snuck between the sheets and literally passed out for half an hour. Pickle woke me with concerned noises nuzzling my hand. I sat back up, got dressed again, went back to the living room, tagged in with a whey faced Brian who couldn’t carry on, tried another half an hour of playing, and had to switch it off again and lie facing a wall for a bit moaning.

It’s incredible. It’s horrible. It’s too much. It’s amazing.

What the hell have we created? People all over the world must be sitting alone in a dark room with a plastic device attached to their head, in the actual matrix. Although I have no idea if my brain will get used to it. Also you look ridiculous playing it. Helpless, clumsy, and dissociated. You have to be guided around the real world by hand as if there’s something seriously wrong with you. You could step on the cat, knock over a table, fall down stairs. But the ugly plastic bobbles in your hand look like a bow and arrow in the blinding screen that is located less than an inch in front of your eyes. This weird digital world is filled in and made complete by your brain, which then can’t work out why all the people look like they’ve been drawn, and it looks like you’re moving but it doesn’t feel like you’re moving. It decides that you’ve been poisoned with some form of aggressive hallucinogen, and starts trying to make you puke it up.

Perhaps as a first game we should’ve tried something a little less high octane, like a nice contemplative Tetris or Tsuro. Something beautiful and slow that doesn’t involve running around being chased by dragons and hitting things with axes and fire. There was a time in my late teens and early twenties when I could play games like this for hours on end and not feel weird, but now I can barely manage an hour on a normal screen, and it seems I can’t get close to half that on VR before I’m running perilously close to being sick.

Brian and I have both gone to bed now. It’s not yet eleven on a Saturday night. On the plus side I’ve had one beer all night. Motion sickness helps cut down booze, for sure. And I’ve barely been able to eat anything at all, so it’ll help me lose weight too…

Pickle doesn’t know what to make of it yet. I think she’s worried about us. She probably ought to be. Boys and toys. Dear God though, it’s incredible. But we both have work to do…



Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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