For years, the best scientists thought we had reached the theoretical limits of VR shame. It seemed impossible, between Oculus founder Palmer Luckey's ill-fated Time magazine cover and the Birdly VR simulator, which convinced countless victims to pretend to fly in public by flapping their arms on the equivalent of a massage table, that any new manifestation of VR could erode our remaining shreds of human dignity any further. VR on a bus? Nah. On a roller coaster? No way.
But now, someone has done it.
Meet Dragon Rider, by Abhishek Singh, featured on Prosthetic Knowledge. As its name suggests, it’s a dragon riding simulator. And all you need to do to feel the sensation of taking flight on the back of a three-ton mythological beast is be a grown adult willing to take a seat on a fun-sized wooden rocker, decorated with all the design flourishes you’d find on a second-grader’s Halloween costume.
As you soar through the heavens, reflecting on your newfound ability to expel a blimp’s worth of fiery propane gas out of your lizard-beast’s lungs—knowing, for the first time, the true choices of our gods—be assured that your flesh and bone body is protected by two wings, likely constructed from stretched panty hose, that sit behind your back.
As you take the reins of magic incarnate, the equivalent of controlling a primordial dinosaur and the unequivocal imagination of George R.R. Martin at the same time, realize that most people passing by will not only fear your powerful comprehension of history, art, and the infinitely complex human condition, but also be wondering, "Where the heck in this DoubleTree did my insurance company set up the breakfast buffet?"
A pragmatist may wonder why Singh put so much effort into collecting enough cardboard boxes from his local Walmart to construct such a righteous physical specimen of the fantasy realm—when after all, nobody inside the VR dragon world even sees this dragon rocker anyway, making these artistic efforts meaningless to anyone but gawking onlookers. But VR enthusiasts know: At the remote peaks of humiliating experiences, we are sipping the thinnest of air. So climb aboard this dragon and breathe it in. The smell is progress*.
*Also, perhaps, the scent of powdered eggs wafting out from the ballroom.