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Wednesday
Jul312019

Into the VOID - a Star Wars VR experience

 

The Johnson/Roberts crew returning from a mission to capture a secret weapon in the VOID Star Wars experience.

I know of few greater Star Wars experts (nerds?) than my grandson and son-in-law. Unlike this shallow grandfather who has only seen the movies a few times, Aaron and Miles have absorbed all the TV shows, animated features, and books - and happily converse for hours using their encyclopedic knowledge of these worlds from "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away."

So when The VOID opened in the Mall of America last Saturday, Miles wanted to go. I knew nothing about it, but, being both a doting grandfather and being a sucker for new experiences, I got tickets for Aaron, Miles, my son Brady, and me for the 2pm adventure.

I have to say that despite the cost ($35 per ticket), the experience was pretty much mind-blowing. Billed as "a whole-body, fully immersive VR experience," the 30 minutes spent looking through a VR helmet,  wearing some kind of electronic vest, and carrying a ray gun, was about as far from the Google Cardboard experience as a iMax movie is from a picture book.

Viewed through the VR helmets, the small, dark rooms of the area we walked through became corridors of spaceships, walkways suspended above firey lava flows, decks of transporter vessels, and storage rooms filled with Storm Troopers firing laser beams. So convincing was the VR, I was actually a little dizzy and anxious when I needed to cross a narrow plank onto a hovering spaceship. Winds and the smell of sulfur, along with a soundtrack lifted right from the movies, added to the realism. There was lots of shooting, a couple codes to enter, and a narrow rescue from Darth Vader as he menaced with his light saber. 

I have rarely seen my kids as excited as when they left the simulation. (OK, I was sort of jazzed too.)

I kept thinking what a powerful educational tool this might be - especially for history classes. How might one's empathy for our ancestors or the ancestors of others be if The VOID sent us into the hold of a slave ship or the trenches of WWI? What would it feel like to ride with Marco Polo on the Silk Road or view the Spanish conquistadors through the eyes of an Aztec noble? Would such technology allow us to sit in on a Socratic dialog - with Socrates or hear Confucius expound in real time?

Empathy is often described as the ability to place oneself in another's shoes. Believe me, next time I see a Star Wars movie, I will be wearing the boots of a rebel on a mission.

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Reader Comments (1)

That looks so cool! Isn’t VR amazing?

I hope that this message finds you well. I’d like to introduce myself, as I enjoy connecting with people who work in the same industry. My website, Library Tech Talk, specializes in sharing information on the tons of digital tools for librarians.

I am a big fan of your blog and keep close tabs on all your latest news through Twitter. If you have the opportunity, I hope you’ll check out my blog librarytechtalk.com and let me know what you think.
Cheers,
Barbi Gardiner
Library Tech Talk

August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBarbi

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