Game of Thrones: The Exhibition kicked off at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney today, prompting hundreds of GoT fans to flock to Circular Quay for a secondhand tour of Westeros. Among the TV props, costumes and weapons on display was a mysterious booth containing a strange new sorcery. This is the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset — and we think it has the power to resurrect the arcade palours of old.
The exhibition's most intriguing feature is an Oculus Rift "Ascend the Wall' demonstration, which transports attendees 700 feet above Castle Black during the climactic wildling attack from Season 4. Remember those terrifying point-of-view shots from the very top of the Wall? That's exactly where the Oculus Rift puts you.
This is achieved via a combination of high-definition 3D graphics, clever sound design, fearsome wind machines and vibrating floorboards; all of which work in tandem to enhance the feeling of really being there. The result is every bit as impressive — and vertigo-inducing — as it sounds.
This will be the first time many attendees will have experienced the Oculus Rift — and they're going to want more. I happened to attend the event with POPSUGAR Australia Celebrity's resident GoT geek Jessica Chandra. Here are her thoughts on the experience:
I'd trialled an Oculus Rift when it came into the Kotaku office last year, so I kind of knew what to expect at the Game of Thrones exhibition. However, the key differences — and they add up to quite a bit — were the other sensory experiences, like having wind blowing in your face and feeling the floor rumble beneath your feet. The demo takes you up the Wall’s rickety elevator, and the platform you stand on vibrates as it ascends. At one point I looked up and I really felt like I was shooting through the sky. Once you get to the top of the Wall, you’re surrounded by snow, and you feel a cool breeze all around you to emphasise you’re supposed to be freezing. The scariest bit was probably getting to the lookout point at the edge of the Wall, which is Jon Snow’s original position at the Battle of Castle Black; even though it’s not 100 percent realistic, it’s close! It really helped having the other elements like the vibration and wind, which totally lifted the experience. It’s the closest I’ll get to Game of Thrones for now!
As Jessica's gushing testimonial demonstrates, the addition of sensory stimulants such as howling wind and real-life vibrations catapults the virtual world into something tantalisingly close to reality. This is where the arcade palours come in.
Simply put, it will be impossible to replicate this experience in your own lounge room: you'd need a wind machine, a mechanical apparatus capable of shaking on command and a big enough space to store it all. Obviously, it makes a lot more sense to simply visit an arcade parlour, just like we used to do at the turn of the century.
There's a real opportunity here for some canny investors to strike while the iron's hot. If the guys behind Intencity are reading (remember that?), this is your second to get rich off a virtual reality comeback. Don't screw it up this time. If you build it, they will come.
Have you had a chance to try out Oculus Rift at the Game of Thrones: The Exhibition yet? How did you find it? Would you like to see a whole arcade parlour filled with similar experiences? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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