This VR Headset Is Designed to Kill You If You Die in the Game, And It's as Insane as It Sounds

If you die in the game, you die for real.

Now this is some next-level stuff. We've heard of killer gameplay, but killer tech? We're not talking about the hey-that's-awesome kind here, but the you-die-in-the-game-you-die-in-real-life kind. The father of modern virtual reality (VR) just made a gaming headset that is designed to kill you. Yes, it is as insane as it sounds. What makes it worse is that it's actually real.

Palmer Luckey, the same man who brought us Oculus, recently unveiled the concept in his blog. Players who put on the NerveGear VR headset will get the chance to play a new game called Sword Art Online, which is based on the namesake Japanese anime and novel.

In the game, users are asked to go through a 100-floor dungeon to escape a virtual world created by some mad scientist (what in the Black Mirror hell is all of this?). The VR device is hooked to three explosive charge modules above the screen and each is aimed at the players' head. If users die in the game, they will trigger the microwave emitter, effectively killing them when they lose.

“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. “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.”



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NerveGear is already halfway done, according to Luckey. The bad news, he says, is that his team has only figured out the part that kills the users (this is supposed to be a "yay," we guess). Luckey also looks to add an "anti-tamper mechanism," where it would be impossible for players to take off or destroy the headset.

Of course, he hasn't used it on himself just yet. "There are a huge variety of failures that could occur and kill the user at the wrong time. This is why I have not worked up the balls to actually use it myself," he noted.

The said explosive charges were actually used for a "different project," before the killer headset's creator opted to use it for the game. Luckey, we may recall, also owns defense tech startup Anduril Industries, so we're guessing that's where he might have taken the tech from.

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Meta owes its foundation to Luckey, who sold Oculus to Facebook for $2 billion back in 2014. It feels like he has too much time on his hands these days though. There are obvious ethical and moral hurdles here, too. But of all questions, the biggest one might just be: who the hell would play this? Actually, scratch that. We don't want to know.

“At this point, it is just a piece of office art, a thought-provoking reminder of unexplored avenues in game design,” Luckey added. “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.”

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About The Author
Bryle B. Suralta
Assistant Section Editor
Bryle B. Suralta is a Filipino cultural critic, editor, and essayist. He writes about art, books, travel, people, current events, and all the magic in between. His past work in film and media can be found on PeopleAsia Magazine, The Philippine Star, MANILA BULLETIN, and IMDB.
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