How much is too much, when it comes to Virtual Reality? Australian Game Developer, Paranormal Games, has promised to bring back your near and dear ones who are no longer with us. Or at least, make you think so. Project Elysium aims to recreate persons who passed away and enable the user to interact with them via the mighty Oculus Rift – the virtual reality headset, that is intended for realistic video gaming. But for the developers, this is not a game, they claim it’s an experience that aspires to be a heartfelt way to respectfully deal with the loss of loved ones. What one wouldn’t give for just one last conversation with that loved one you couldn’t have, right?
The project is not just for that, though. They also plan to have a ‘mass-market experience’ where a specific Elysium project of a celebrity would be released. For example, Elvis Presley in one of his films, and would be released to the public for them to experience. Perhaps even Michael Jackson or Paul Walker?
But the idea to bring back interactions with loved ones may not be the best one. Acceptance forms a major part of the grief cycle when one goes through the loss of a loved one. While blurring of the boundaries of reality seems good for video games, it seems questionable if the same logic will work well in this case. The thought of having an option to interact may cause an abnormal extension of the bargaining phase, which can be very unhealthy since it hampers the acceptance of the hard truth. A counter argument, however, can be that the interaction can provide the ‘closure’ that one needs for the grief cycle to reach its completion. Such VR can also be seen simply as an extension of photographs and videos of our loved ones that we cherish and keep. Clearly, there the question is a sensitive one, and the final outcome will depend on how it’s built and aimed to be used.
Then there’s also the question of quality. For video game characters are people we don’t know, interaction with them is new, and thus quickly feels genuine if the characters are well built. Doing so in case of people we already know at such a personal level may prove to be hard – to get each inside joke and each eccentricity right seems like a daunting task. And without these, the experience might not feel genuine enough.
Country of Origin: Australia
Year: Under Development