Fear and Programming in Irvine, CA: a horrific journey into the heart of an Oculus Rift

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Black monitors and portable computers sit atop white Formica tables as 30+ VR developers bang out 3D modeled code in a co-working space that has been transformed into a horror-themed development world. Wild, red eyes stare deep into the Oculus Rift goggles that are strapped to the faces of the coffee-wired testers. They type furiously, dragging around first-person perspectives inside LCD screens while thoughts of buzzing bees and malicious things form in plain view.

Creatures of the night and destructive environments manifest out the developers’ heads, starting to take shape, seeping into the minds of the users bringing out the most imaginative nightmare scenarios. Suddenly, the scene changes, and the wearer of a DK1 glances down standing on the thinnest of ledges looking down at a falling fate of death. Below, the shaking legs of an animated avatar float above a drop so far that the G-forces alone would surely kill the unlucky person who accidentally took a misstep in the wrong direction.

Spaceship sounds echo off the corners the room. At the same time, creepy voices whisper their murderous plans to kill unsuspecting victims nearby as they craw their way through all encompassing darkness.

Silence.

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Then, the blank heartless eyes of a lost zombie appear tapping into the digital matrices along the edge of a mixed reality. Not quite augmented, and not completely virtual, but somewhere stuck in-between.

Ominous lights flicker. This time the landscape transitions to a desert ghost town. Fog rolls in, and the dark shadow of a man teleports itself into the distance. He hovers slowly towards the camera. Then BOOM! He lunges ready to tear out organs, feasting lusciously on bloody flesh.

“they want to kill you!”

“you’re going to die slowly”

Don’t lose your head just yet. Now, ask, “what is fear?” Is it found embedded in the zombie room, or perhaps located within a haunted elevator where no matter how hard you try, you just can’t escape..? It’s best to keep the lights on in this Mad House. No one will leave here alive!

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