Aug 212017

Consumer Virtual Reality is kind of dead, and that’s great news… It’s as though an alien spaceship fell on earth and all the aliens died… and now we have to figure out how to use this strange technology for our very human desires. (From Stranger Playthings: Remaking a VR Counterculture)

VR is weeeird. So we made a weird game with it called Manimal Sanctuary. It’s a lurking simulator where you play a creature that’s part coral reef, part Cthulhu, who feeds off of the emotions of humans.

It’s also weird to exhibit VR games: “Hey, mind strapping this box to your head in a way that effectively blinds you and makes you look silly?” And it’s boring for the people who aren’t wearing the headsets.

We addressed those issues… by doubling down on the weirdness.

Our $30 VR headset had dumbass branding on it. You know what’s better than that? ANYTHING. So we got a knitted cap online and had a friend integrate it and add creepy-cute monster eyes.

While we were at it, we got ten tentafingers. As I helped them put them on players, I explained they served absolutely no practical purpose — our game is gaze-based, and needs no peripherals — but they would help them get into character & they should feel free to undulate them.

I also had them stand on this patch of dead grass because clearly there had been an eldritch blast event there recently. If the music from the band was too loud…

…and they couldn’t hear, I took the opportunity to add a “sound baffle” that also happened to look like a cultists’ hood.

It was the right fest for it, it attracts an open-minded and creative crowd…

There was even other performers in masks, so our weird goggles fit right in.

The headgear at rest, revealing my phone in its gaping maw.

Find out more about the game here, or download the demo for free on Android or iPhone.

Thanks to Camp Wavelength, Little Dada for the hood, and Claire McMillan for the headset mod!

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