At Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Times Square today, we got to try out one of the world’s most expensive and immersive virtual reality experiences. On July 1st, Sony and a Utah startup called The Void will open Ghostbusters: Dimension, which lets you become a ghostbuster in what The Void likes to call a “hyper-real” world.
Dimension is part of a larger exhibit based on the new Ghostbusters movie, which also includes wax versions of the stars and a walk-through haunted house experience. With two partners, you enter an elaborate stage where the real world is mapped to the virtual one, capturing ghosts by shooting a plastic gun that stands in for a proton pack. You can see and talk to your fellow “ghostbusters” in VR, and you can feel the walls, sit in chairs, and sense being shot with a proton pack or touched by a ghost. It’s all possible because of a high-end headset, a haptic vest, a backpack computer, and a really sophisticated tracking system — all of which so far haven’t been seen outside some limited beta testing and an appearance at TED.
I went through Ghostbusters: Dimension with my colleague Adi Robertson, and what follows is a dialog comparing our thoughts on what was good and bad about The Void’s first big opening.
Adi: First of all, I feel like I have to set expectations here, because The Void has gotten hyped up as being totally realistic, and that’s a terrible way to think about it. The basic experience is a really (really, really) high-quality virtual reality shooting gallery, where you can walk around a real stage that’s got enough props to give you the broad strokes of physical space. So at the beginning, you walk into a little New York apartment, and the walls and doors and chair and TV are all real. But the tchotchkes on the shelf beside it don’t exist, and if you try to open a door you’re not supposed to, somebody yanks you back. It’s an awesome illusion and technical feat, but there’s always some active suspension of disbelief involved. Read More…