Virtual Encounter

April 2002

My first experience with Virtual Reality was with a game called Zone Hunter. It was on a Virtuality SU2000 gaming system at Six Flags Magic Mountain. My cousin Kris and I walked into an arcade center at this amusement park. The first thing we saw was this fancy new arcade system. The cost was five dollars, which was a little high, but we figured it was worth a try.

We waited in line for our turn. When we finally got to the front of the line we started to don the equipment. We stepped into the rings and put on the head mounted displays. The attendant adjusted our headsets and gave us a joystick looking device for navigation. One button was to fire and the other was to move forward.

They started the game and the first thing I thought was,” Wow, this is neat!” I could see the entrance to a building. Some landscape and a horizon. Then I looked up and I could see the sky, and a bird passing through. When I looked down I could see my feet. “This is awesome!!”, I said. Then all of a sudden I heard Kris’s voice. “Yeah it is”, he said. I could hear him on my right side. Just as if he had been standing there. I swung my head to the right and there standing was an arcade looking Soldier that was walking beside me. “Wow, I can hear you!!”, I yelled. “I know this is cool!!”, he said. We looked around and at each other. After a few seconds of orienting ourselves within this new world, we entered the building and started our mission.

That experience was enough to keep me hooked on the idea of Virtual Reality for some time. Then again, when I started college, I began searching for anything that had to do with Virtual Reality on the web. That’s when I came across an article that mentioned the Nintendo Power Glove could be used with the PC. This fueled my fire and started my search for information and research on Virtual Reality.

I had two power gloves and a VFX-1 headset hooked up to a 233 Mhz computer. I was so excited to have a VR system. Even though it was a low-end system, it was still enough to provide some immersion. I played countless games and messed around with freeware world builders. The experience wasn’t as good as my first, but I am still hooked to this day.

I have always been fascinated by the concept of Virtual Reality. I owned many pieces of equipment and tried countless different VR programs. All of this in trying to recreate the sensation I had when I first entered that virtual world at Magic Mountain. It is an experience I will never forget and it continues to drive my fascination of VR to this day.