Everyone remembers the first time.
You strap on a headset and step into a world you’d never be able to visit in person. Perhaps you’re floating in the deep as 20-ton whale shark drifts by; or you’re standing on the precipice of a soaring vista with the breeze ruffling your hair. Your heart beats faster, your senses sharpen to take in what’s around you, and you try to remind yourself that your brain is being fooled by technology, that this isn’t real.
That’s how it felt when I first gave location-based VR a go at SXSW four years ago, when the technology was still in its infancy. The event was a “Game of Thrones Experience” and as a rabid fan, I was only too eager to step into what appeared to be a rickety elevator shaft and be instantly transported to one of the series’ most iconic settings, the North Wall. After a minute of peering over an icy cliff (while White Walkers were shooting fiery arrows in my direction) I was exhilarated in a way I hadn’t felt since my first upside-down rollercoaster ride as a kid.