Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 14/11/97

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

Virtual reality and the Skinless Space Alien

Last Saturday, I indulged in a bit of a virtual reality fest. I went to Imax and watched a movie about how virtual reality rides are created. I went to CiniMagic and tried out a virtual reality ride called 'Dessert Duel'. And then I went to SegaWorld and tried out everything they had on offer, since for $25 admission you want to get value for money.

A point constantly emphasised in the film was that for virtual reality to work effectively, it has to be believable throughout. Having had what most count as the most hysterical virtual reality experience of all time, I can confirm that this is in fact true.

One of the rides at SegaWorld is called the AS-1, which is one of those small capsule VR rides mounted on hydraulic stuff. You climb inside and try and pretend that you're driving a spaceship on a dangerous mission.

Since I can't even drive a car, this was always going to be a bit of a mental stretch. But it turned out to be much worse.

I got into the eight-seater AS-1 with my friends Jono and Glenn, and five giggling Japanese tourists who appeared to take the whole thing very seriously. We strapped ourselves in, and the ride began. A mysterious mutant being appeared on the screen.

"I'm Commander Jackson, and I'll be instructing you on this mission."

I didn't hear the rest of what Jacko said, I was too busy cracking up laughing. The Japanese tourists looked offended. But how else are you supposed to react to the idea of Michael Jackson as a spaceship commander? The only possible funnier outcome would be LaToya Jackson in the hot seat.

From that point on, my biggest challenge was not to pilot the AS-1 to safety but to prevent myself from bursting into paroxysms of giggles every time Michael's effete voice echoed throughout the ship. The bloody thing could have turned itself upside down and I'd have been none the wiser. The Japanese tourists looked very affronted.

Even when we'd climbed out and started queueing for the infinitely more satisfying Mad Bazookas dodgems, I was still laughing. So I guess I got my $25 worth.

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