Originally Published: October 4, 2017 6:03 a.m.
At first, you know it’s not real.
The pixelated world presented to you is simply a novel experience that you’re becoming accustomed to.
However, in a very short amount of time and without fully realizing it, you become engrossed. You almost forget you’re standing in a room wearing a mask and holding a pair of game controllers. Emotional reactions get the better of you as you’re gripped by terror at the sight of a digitally-generated monster lurching toward you or exhilarated by the sensation of flying through the air.
My first true experience trying out virtual reality was at the Prescott Valley Library.
I say “true experience” because I once played around with an entry-level virtual reality kit a friend got for free when he purchased one of Samsung’s newer smartphones about a year ago. The way it worked is the smartphone would run a downloaded virtual reality application and then be attached to the front of a headset.
This allowed me to play some games, such as fishing, and experience headache-inducing virtual demos like riding a roller coaster.
While entertaining, the smartphone application and accompanying headset now seem primitive in comparison to Oculus Rift, the virtual reality system currently available at the PV library.
My guide through the experience was Shelbie Marks, PV library’s teen librarian. I allowed her to select which programs I would try out.
The first was a great starter. It consisted of several brief introductions into various 3-dimensional worlds.
The first world was a nature landscape. A bird sat atop a tree chirping, a deer calmly ate grass and mountains could be seen in the distance. It was serene.
The second world was not of this world. It was a distant planet where an extraterrestrial appeared to be trying to communicate with me. I tried reaching out to touch the creature, but was reminded of the virtual barrier when a digital net appeared, indicating I was extending the perimeter of the system’s imaging.
The third world got my heart rate up as it instantly placed me at the edge of a 20-story skyscraper looking down at city life.
“We’ve had people who have to look away on this one because they fear heights,” Marks said about that particular image.
The fourth and final world was what really took my breath away.
Standing in a large corridor of what appeared to be a dinosaur museum, I soon heard the deep rumble of heavy steps. A tyrannosaurus rex suddenly made its way around a corner in front of me and started heaving its massive body toward me. It stopped right in front of me and after rearing up, gave a tremendous roar in my face. Saliva was blowing out of its mouth – I could almost feel it on my face. It then sniffed me, decided it wasn’t interested and walked right over me.
After this, I didn’t need to see anymore. I already knew how powerful this technology is.
But we kept going nonetheless. I played a simple game similar to Minecraft to get used to the interactive mechanics of the system and then decided it was time to run to my next assignment.
All I can say to wrap this up is I’ll be back for more.