V-Rtifacts

Game Systems

Regis Takes a Spin

You know the wave has crested when Regis and Kathie Lee make your specialty an early morning featurette. Reeg hams it up beautifully. If it hadn’t been for that 3:30am load in, it might have been perfect. Dave Polinchock provides expert narration. Quick glimpse of an SGI Indigo on the left, and the Virtual Research Flight Helmet atop Mr. Philbin. From March of 1993. PNVA3DJZPHDB

Urinated in His Pants?

Proving that VR doesn’t automatically lead to hurling the intrepid subject of this 1995 video wolfs down a cornucopia of fast food and hops on some VR games at Toronto’s CN Tower. The manager of the arcade facility prevaricates a bit, telling us that while he’s never seen chunks, peeing one’s pants is an actual reality. We hope that’s not in the sit-down version of the Virtuality system show…

Arcade “Player Retainer” – HeadGames VR2000

IAPPA 1999 brought us another stand-up VR system from New York based HeadGames, the VR2000. Based on the Forte consumer head mounted display, the VR2000 also featured the “Player Retainer.” Initially I thought this was some special magic which ensured repeat play, as HeadGames projected up to $3,000/mo. revenue for this $25k system. To my chagrin the retention system is a waist high railing which keeps players from falling over. Good move!

VR2000

If anyone knows what became of HeadGames, add a comment below. The Wayback Machine shows them falling off the grid in 2001.

Display Mounted Head? – Kimera

The Kimera game system from Immersive Technologies appeared at the 1995 IAAPA show with a solution to the VR arcade’s most vexing challenge: how to keep the helmets from being damaged or stolen without a full time attendant. Taking their cue from the Fakespace Boom, Kimera had a floating/pivoting display, to which the game player leaned into and then moved about. Indeed, you would mount your head to the display. At 525 lbs., Kimera came with a proprietary game, Pyramid Pilot, custom designed for Immersive by the software developer Algorithm.

immersive_technologies_kimera

Another Gyro VR – Orbotron X O Tron VR

1995 brought us yet another Gyro based VR Game system, the X-O-Tron VR, a descendant of the original non-electronic gyro-exercise system, the Orbotron. Initially inspired by the March 1992 release of Lawnmower Man, the first gyro VR systems appeared that summer (full disclosure – my company built a prototype system for a client in the spring of ’92 and then offered our own before the end of the year.)

XOTron-VR

The X-O-Tron VR came from the same folks who designed and built the Orbotron. It had two features that nobody else was offering: a wireless HMD and the ability to spin the gyro completely upside-down and back. While the helmet wasn’t tracked, there were shaft encoders on the gyro bearings to detect the gamer’s orientation. The game electronics were a 3D0 home game system. Read more in the X-O-Tron-VR Brochure.

And don’t forget to watch the original gyro in Lawnmower Man: