With virtual reality (VR) technology getting closer and closer to providing fully immersive experiences in which users feel like they’ve taken control of another person, it’s only a matter of time before moral panics start to set in. The tech isn’t quite there yet, but transport police in Australia are already warning fans against the use of one upcoming VR experience, Train Surf, for the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD).
As reported by 9news, Train Surf simulates the titular act, in which people cling to the side of a train, in this case moving over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, with heavy road traffic just meters away from where they are positioned. The title itself is computer generated instead of live-action, but police are concerned that its release will encourage young people to take up the dangerous stunt, with over 60 train surfing incidents reported in south Sydney’s Sutherland Shire area alone.
Train Surf‘s developer, Nicholas Eggleston, notes that his intention is to dissuade, not encourage: “I think people have to understand there is a big difference between this game and the real world,” he told the site.
“I’d love people to experience this. It’s seeing the Harbour Bridge in a different light.” Eggleston hopes that the experience will prevent children from trying the real thing once they’ve sampled it in the virtual world. He even has another VR title with similar aims in the works named Deck Dash, in which players dodge speeding traffic as they run across eight lanes on the same bridge. The developer is currently looking for funding for the titles in order to release them for the consumer version of the Oculus Rift.
Eggleston may have good intentions with his projects, but will they achieve his aims or end up encouraging thrill-seekers? Whatever the case, this is likely one of the first in a long list of uses of the Oculus Rift and other HMDs that will be called into question as the technology hits consumers. VRFocus will continue to follow any and all uses of VR, reporting back with the latest updates.