Richie’s Plank VR
You’re on a plank, 80 stories high. Knees shaky, palms sweaty. You have a choice. Do you walk or do you freeze?
This isn’t a game. Richie’s Plank Experience is a psychological experience that you and your friends will react to with exhilaration, fear or laughter. For the VR veteran, even more entertainment comes watching the reactions of others.
Richie’s Plank can be combined with a real-world plank cloned in the virtual world for 2X the immersion.
I hear a bright tone – ding! – and then the elevator doors open to reveal a vast cityscape stretching out before my eyes. Protruding in front of me is a wooden board, about three metres long and thirty centimetres wide – just thick enough to accommodate both of my feet, side-by-side. The task here is straightforward: just like the maritime method of execution, I’m meant to walk the plank.
A helicopter passes overhead, not far from where I’m standing. Out on the plank, eighty storeys in the air, I’m holding the two wireless controllers up above my waist, like ski poles. This is mostly for balance, I suppose, but also because my mind has been gripped by a set of emotions that I’ve yet to encounter in any other form of visual entertainment. It’s a cocktail of fear, exhilaration and anxiety, and it’s because my eyes and ears are taking in sensations which I know intellectually to be false. This is virtual reality, after all, and I’m playing a game named Richie’s Plank Experience. Yet out here, on the plank, real and fake are all but indistinguishable. All my brain is concerned with is survival.
Despite being a lifelong gamer who has invested thousands upon thousands of hours of my life into staring into television and computer screens while controlling virtual avatars, I was still stupefied and, essentially, defeated by the novelty of Richie’s Plank Experience.
The thing about novelty, though, is that it operates according to the law of diminishing returns: once you try something for the first time, you’re already on the path to normalisation. Later, after my heartrate returns to its baseline, I jump back into the game to try its other modes, which are much less fear-inducing.
One prompts your creative urges by allowing you to use a jetpack to paint shapes mid-air, out between the tall buildings; it’s rather difficult, and gives me new appreciation for the task of sky-writing. The other mode encourages you to use a firehose to put out a burning building: virtual firefighting, a hundred metres up. All of it is rendered in vivid, colourful, and strikingly realistic tones. There is no need to suspend my disbelief, because the brain immediately believes – hence the physical response.
Alternative games modes
If you want to know what it feels like to be a super-hero, here’s your chance. Use your controllers to fly around the virtual city. Extinguish fires that blaze throughout the city with a fire hose and rocket hands.
A sky writing simulator where you can paint the sky different colours using your rocket hands as a paintbrush.
An extra scary plank experience. To access press 666 on the panel on the left. This is a safety feature – please do not let kids play it.
Great for kids at Christmas time. Reindeer will pick you up in Santa’s sleigh so you can deliver presents into the chimneys of all the good boys and girls.