The rest of the gaming industry has gotten awfully jealous of all the money Nintendo is making with their Wii and all its unconventional controllers. Now everybody wants on board the Wiimote/Balance Board gravy train, and sure enough Sony and Microsoft have their own motion controls on the way.
But thanks to some lesser known, state-of-the-art gaming peripherals, other companies are way ahead on game controller innovation. Way, way ahead, into a land where only the crazy people dwell.
Virtual reality has long been the Holy Grail of the video gaming world, because for some reason nothing less than total digital immersion is acceptable in a future where we haven't even figured out how to clone dinosaurs or get our cars to fly.
While most engineers are content with perfecting futuristic headsets and handheld devices to approximate virtual reality, the inventors of the Virtusphere seek to take the notion one step further, a phrase which here means "locking players inside a giant hamster ball."
The Virtusphere is a 10-foot hollow sphere housed on a special platform that is covered in wheels, allowing encased players to walk, run and roll around in a virtual environment viewed entirely through a wireless headset, sort of like that time you taped a Scooby Doo viewmaster to your face when you were nine and ran around in your backyard pretending you were in the Mystery Machine.
This is what fun used to look like.
While we fully support massive unwieldy devices constructed purely for entertainment, a gigantic metal ball noisily grinding around on castor wheels isn't going to fit inside most people's living rooms (you'd have trouble fitting the damn thing in a high school gymnasium).
Even if your house had a big enough room to fit this expensive monstrosity in it, if just one wheel slips you're going to go crashing through the wall trapped inside a hollow boulder like the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Or like a pitcher full of sugar water.
And honestly, we'd pay a lot more for that experience.
OCZ's Neural Impulse Actuator is a headband that looks like something the space hippies from that old Star Trek episode would wear. According to the company, it "translates the electrical biosignals of your body directly into computer commands."
So that means it can totally read your mind and help you rule Modern Warfare 2 with an iron mental fist, right?
Well, not exactly. The NIA can't translate direct thoughts, so screaming, "SHOOT THE DAMN NAZI!" in your head over and over isn't going to do anything.
"WIN, YOU SON OF A BITCH!" also will not work.
The device doesn't even read brain waves like other emerging technologies claim to. No, all the NIA does is monitor muscle twitches in your face and translates them into on-screen actions. Sometimes.
The idea is that our bodies subconsciously twitch in response to certain stimulus (such as seeing a zombie come into view) and the NIA can translate those spasms into activating the fire button before your brain can tell your finger to move, thus reducing reaction times.
This wink translates to "Kill hooker with a baseball bat."
However, you'd still need a mouse and keyboard to play the game, leading us to wonder what the fucking point of the peripheral is at all, especially when you consider the device has to be calibrated every single time you want to play, which can take up to an hour or more. At least it makes for a pretty boss headband.
Another emerging advancement on the forefront of video gaming is haptic technology, also known as force feedback, which appeals to the player's sense of touch using various techniques such as controller vibrations and joystick resistance. Makes sense. But surely there must be a way to make it ridiculous and painful, right? Get our best men on it!
Ah, here we go. The 3rd Space FPS Gaming Vest attempts to take force feedback one step further by emulating what it feels like to get hit by a bullet, a sensation which many of you may recognize as one of the primary things you're trying to avoid by playing Call of Duty instead of joining the actual military.
The vest is comprised of eight strategically placed air pockets that are connected to a small air compressor, and when the player gets shot in the game, the compressor fires a burst of air into the corresponding area that delivers a startling kick into the gamer's midsection.
Aside from the obvious fact that a little puff of air hardly simulates what it would feel like to be lacerated by a red hot piece of metal traveling at the speed of sound, the vest has a number of other drawbacks, not least of which is the fact that while the air compressor is small and relatively lightweight, the entire device is still quite noisy, which ironically ruins the immersion that the device is trying to create in the first place by making it sound like you've hauled a lawnmower into battle.
Also, the vest is really only designed for first person shooters on the PC, a fact that is disappointing to anyone who has ever wondered what it'd feel like to get punched in the stomach by Zangief.
When will we finally feel the hairy-shinned sting of the Russian Bear?
All right, we know what some of you are thinking. "Force feedback? Instead of my torso, why don't game makers aim a little lower, if you know what I mean!"
Trust us, they know. That's why we have...
Over the years since video games were invented, many attempts have been made to pair them with sex. The results have always been disappointing at best because at the end of the day, it's just porn that you watch while your hands are busy with a control pad. If only there were some device that could translate the suggestive motions of a hot virtual goddess into actual, real life groin molestation.
You thought that was a Photoshopped pic up there, didn't you?
Enter The SOM. No really, enter it, softly, with your dong. Because that's how it works. Bundled with a Japanese Hentai game called Cross Days, the SOM is the video game peripheral serial killers have always wished for.
Until ultimately deciding that having sex with murdered corpses is much less weird.
The manufacturer promises full, real-time interactivity with the erotic game during sexual scenes by way of the device's vertically oscillating head and special medical lube, so that you too can find out what it's like to get blown by a robot while watching a cartoon.
If a hands-free, plastic sex simulator is too hi-tech for you or too difficult to hide from the FBI, rest assured there is another route to achieving interactive orgasms. The aptly named Joydick literally turns an erect penis into an old school joystick for use with Atari games.
More like Dick-fall.
With the simple application of a wired plastic ring, the Joydick allows for "controlling video gameplay based on realtime male masturbation." Because we all know that's been the key to big sales all along.