In virtual and augmented reality, we’re told we can do anything. Climb a mountain (see: EVEREST VR). Destroy prized possessions as a cat (see: Catlateral Damage). Literally, quote-unquote, anything. Sometimes “anything” can be a magical, transcendent experience, like in Rez Infinite. Sometimes it’s plain boring and trite. In other cases, “anything” can make you laugh or smile for a brief moment. And that’s enough to restore your faith in the technology.
So here’s celebration of all our favorite weird interactions we’ve had this year in VR and AR. Whether they made us laugh or smile or were interesting in other ways, all of the below proudly show what VR and AR can be used for beyond 1. empathy or 2. shooting guns, and that’s pretty neat.
Accounting is so stuffed with bizarre interactions—getting started at your new accounting job, cleanly gutting the “King of VR,” being decapitated by a guillotine—that it’s hard to firmly decide on a single one. Except for when you consider the one thread that ties everything in Accounting together: VR itself. Headsets are your window to new scenarios in Accounting, taking shape in a multitude of ways, from a hunk of wood to a once-living heart. And all the quirky VR headsets do an all-too familiar thing: they transport us away to a world far from our own. You know, like a courthouse where you’re getting tried for murder.
Scratching the chin of a toolbox-cat in Fantastic Contraption (Northway Games, Radial Games)
Fantastic Contraption has changed a lot since its 2D origins in 2008. The long-awaited VR showcase was finally released this year for the HTC Vive and later the Oculus Rift (with a PSVR release coming spring 2017). Fantastic Contraption is a game that imagines VR as a way to interact with objects—right down to its menus. Instead of pulling up a boring HUD, you interact with Neko the Toolbox-Cat, and presto—you’re building wondrous things, all with the help of an adorable feline.
It’s no secret that on a personal level, I’m a fan of Japanese pop idols. When virtual reality first started percolating under the surface, one of the first big embraces in Japan was that of VR concerts. But not just any concerts: the ones that are harder to realize in reality beyond holograms (like a certain Vocaloid we all know and love). Playstation VR in particular has two titles that implement popular fictional idols: Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live and The Idolmaster: Cinderella Girls Viewing Revolution. Interactivity for both experiences is at a minimum as you gaze upon your virtual idols in action: your primary reason for being there is to wave glowsticks and enjoy the show. So essentially, a wotagei simulator.
Bonding with a donut in My Lil’ Donut (Isaac “Cabbibo” Cohen)
Donuts are great. And they’re even better when they’re customizable, digital, and fat-free. My Lil’ Donut is a donut you can virtually consume, with no guilt! You can stretch it, color it, freeze it, make that puppy yours. Or as Cohen bids in the game’s description, “build a relationship [with your donut], because at the end, connection is the reason we’re all here.” Too true.
Pissing [into the Grand Canyon, at an Orange Man rally, etc.], in Pee World VR (Grant Thomas, Pablo Rochat)
Pee World VR was born from a desire to make fun of innovation, its developers told us earlier this year. And make fun of innovation they did: in making a VR simulator of the most banal activity in the world. (Peeing, in case the title wasn’t obvious.) Pee World VR doesn’t need any cumbersome controllers for its experience. It needs only your gaze, which directs your pissing accordingly.
Stay tuned for Part Two of more of our favorite interactions in VR, AR, and anything in between.