On March 23rd of 2017, Paul Bunyan Communications was happy to pack up and bring their duo of Oculous Rift Virtual Reality Headsets to Bemidji High School’s Myth and Science Fiction classes! We were able to set up two different stations offering two distinct virtual reality experiences for the students of Mrs. Almendinger’s classes. “The Oculus Dream Deck” drops the user into various non-interactive, yet wildly entertaining “scenes” that allow the user to move around in a virtual 3D space. The scenes run the gamut from the creaking interior of a submarine at the bottom of the sea, to a discussion with an irate alien on the barren surface of an unknown planet, to a disconcerting close encounter with an escaped T-Rex! The students appeared to enjoy the ride, laughing, shrieking, and starting with shock at the virtual surroundings.
Once they had sampled the “Dream Deck” they moved on to the more visceral gaming experience of “Audio Shield”. In “Audio Shield” the player wears a virtual shield on each hand. They choose a song from a list of various music installed on the computer running the game and then defend themselves as the beats of the songs take on the appearance of colorful spheres that target the player in time with the music. The player then uses their shields to block the beats, racking up the highest score they can before the song ends. It looked like the students had a great time keeping pace with the songs, and afterward many were ready to get back in line for a chance to try again.
For our part, we were excited to have the opportunity to bring this new technology to the next generation of sci-fi enthusiasts in our community. It very much feels like the future is now!