CultureThe Impact of Virtual Reality

As the 1999 film “The Matrix” reminded us, if we can control people’s perceptions (i.e. our five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch), we can present them with an alternative reality.

What's VR

Virtual reality created on this idea has become a center of attention recently. People have been experimenting with controlling their senses, starting with hearing (shutting out the outside world by the use of headphones) and continuing with VR goggles and the sense of sight.

And controlling the sense of touch and smell might not be so hard after all, either. What can be more challenging is the palate, responsible for tasting the nutritive substances that go directly into our body. Still, recently we found out that this too can be controlled from information conveyed through our sight. If and when we come up with a device that can control our senses of smell, touch and taste together with our sight and hearing, the world of “Matrix” could become a reality.

Even if the matter of controlling taste, touch and smell belongs to the future, VR devices controlling sight and hearing are already here. And by “here” we mean Japan, too! att.Japan’s editorial department wanted to have a first-hand experience with it so we tried “Zero Latency VR” and “VR Ikiningyo no Ma”; both systems are available as attractions in Odaiba’s Tokyo Joypolis Amusement Park.

①Zero Latency VR

This is a zombie shooting game where you get points collaborating with other players (six can play simultaneously). The headsets have built-in microphones so you can chat with the others during the game.

After getting an explanation from one of the staffers acting as the team leader, we got our equipment and weapon: the backpack weighs 4 kg and the weapon 2 kg and you can actually feel the weight! And then we entered the battlefield. At first it looked like a regular room but as soon as we put the goggles on, we got transported to an abandoned factory. Behind us, we heard moans and groans – we turned around and saw that we were surrounded by a horde of zombies. We gasped and shuddered involuntarily as we tried to avoid them! We headed for the second floor and even though we knew it was just a flat screen, and we could feel the height and wondered anxiously what would happen if we missed our footing – the fear was real!

Cost: ¥1,800 (tax included). Reservation necessary. For ages 13 and over. Tokyo Joypolis entrance fee also required.

②VR Ikiningyo no Ma (Room of the Living Dolls)

Their previous work, “Green Room of the Living Dolls,” was quite scary even though it only utilized sound. With this one where VR has been added, things really go up several notches! We walked across a pitch-dark corridor, passed a room with some very eerie dolls and sat at a table with several other people. As soon as we put on the goggles and the headphones, we lost all contact with the real world and became transfixed with fascination and fear as the story unfolded. The graphics on the screen were very clear and in some scenes we involuntarily closed our eyes. The stimuli were unbelievably strong!

Cost: ¥600. Due to the grotesque imagery, entrance is limited to ages 13 and over. Tokyo Joypolis entrance fee also required.

Try a VR Game!

This was our first try at VR and it was much more real than we had imagined. There are many extraordinary things to experience there so be sure to give it a try!

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