'Boy Genius' Defense Contractor Invents Game that Literally Kills You When You Lose

Palmer Luckey headset
(Palmer Luckey)

Palmer Luckey made his name by starting virtual reality company Oculus when he was 16 years old. He cashed out pretty quickly, selling the VR company to Mark Zuckerberg in 2014 for $2 billion and sending Facebook down the path to its Meta(verse) future.

Luckey, then just 22 years old, took his Facebook cash and started Anduril Industries, a defense contractor that develops surveillance technology. Anduril has been a big success, landing a $967 million contract with the Air Force for its Advance Battle Management System and a $1 billion contract with U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to work on its counter-drone systems integration.

What does the now 30-year-old billionaire do to entertain himself while swimming in that sweet DoD cash? He invents a gaming headset that's also a lethal weapon. Or maybe it's the other way around, and he invented a lethal weapon that's also a gaming headset.

My fellow Americans, this is the dystopian future that's funded by our tax dollars. Luckey's already got the big-bucks contracts and now has enough free time on his hands that he can turn his attention to projects like this one.

An article at Vice.com explains the latest invention from the boy wonder. He's a big fan of the anime "Sword Art Online" and designed a new virtual reality headset that pays homage to the twisted story behind the series.

Luckey's headset features three explosive charge modules that sit above the screen. If those bombs went off, they'd obliterate the head of anyone wearing the device.

The inventor shared his invention on his blog, where he explained, "The idea of tying your real life to your virtual avatar has always fascinated me -- you instantly raise the stakes to the maximum level and force people to fundamentally rethink how they interact with the virtual world and the players inside it. Pumped up graphics might make a game look more real, but only the threat of serious consequences can make a game feel real to you and every other person in the game."

In the show, players find themselves trapped inside a headset called the NerveGear that kills the wearer with a microwave emitter if they lose the VR game they're forced to play. Luckey was unable to figure out how to translate that technology to physical reality, so he opted to build an explosive device instead, one that would reduce the loser's cranium to a fine, pink mist.

Luckey says he's not done yet. "I have plans for an anti-tamper mechanism that, like the NerveGear, will make it impossible to remove or destroy the headset," he wrote. "Even so, there are a huge variety of failures that could occur and kill the user at the wrong time. This is why I have not worked up the balls to actually use it myself."

Surely there are volunteers out there willing to prove their VR gaming mastery and take on Luckey's exploding headset. The billion-dollar DoD contractor may not be ready to try it himself, but Luckey believes lethal gaming gear is definitely a part of our future.

Let's give Luckey the final word: "It is, as far as I know, the first non-fiction example of a VR device that can actually kill the user. It won't be the last."

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