Remember that viral photo where Mark Zuckerberg walked past a whole room of nerds, but none of them noticed because they were all wearing VR headsets? It seemed like the perfect sad sack signpost hea an inevitable reality in which we tune out the wonders of the real world for the pixelated temptations of the virtual one. But in fact, VR Zuckerberg has already been topped! Because now we have Six Flags Over Texas's new ride, Shock Wave: The New Revolution.
It’s a roller coaster! And when you ride it, you put on a virtual reality headset. Inside the headset? It’s a simulated jet ride that takes the exact same loops and turns as the roller coater you’re on.
Now look, I’m sure this is the best-feeling virtual reality rollercoaster anyone’s ever been on, because, you know, they’re actually riding a roller coaster. And I get that there was probably an appeal to Six Flags marketers, who saw loyal customers get bored after riding the same attraction over and over, so they figured putting a VR headset over someone’s eyeballs could re-skin the experience without spending another $20 million building something new.
But—doesn’t anyone else see how clearly crazy and self-defeating this whole experience looks? Is this real life? (Well...I guess yes and no?) Is our natural world now just a place where we strap ourselves in for 200-foot, 60mph drops— painstakingly engineered to push our psyches to face their own mortality, to realize that life is ephemeral and joy is fleeting but passion is real—only to block all that out for the experience of a 4.7-inch smartphone screen running Roller Coaster Tycoon?
I mean, sure, I guess that’s exactly what it is, and has been for a while. Because—wait, just got a text, let me answer real quick.
Top Image: via Six Flags