The Oculus Rift is inching out of its 3-D-gaming genesis, from the controlled free-fall of a skydiving simulator to simply watching movies in 3-D. But what about art? Distancing itself from other interaction-heavy Oculus Rift projects, “The Nail Polish Inferno” is a virtual reality art show that deliberately limits the user’s agency to “look, but don’t touch.”
The product of a collaboration between technology-artist Geoffrey Lillemon and the Amsterdam-based creative agency Random Studio, “The Nail Polish Inferno” is, quite plainly, an immersive gallery space with a surreal soundtrack. But strapping a user into a headset with accompanying audio is already enough for game journalists to wonder whether game designers should add functionality like auto-pause to horror games if users keep flinging their headsets in panic. In short, since it blocks out external stimuli, the Oculus Rift headset gives developers incredible control over the user experience. While the author of this post wonders whether this Oculus Rift guillotine simulator would make a great sequence in a future game, “The Nail Polish Inferno” is an argument for the experience itself, subverting expectations of interactive agency by limiting the user.
While non-combat games like Amnesia and its horror ilk (including the Oculus Rift-specific Dreadhalls referred to above) do not have combat options, they are driven by exploration and pursuit; “The Nail Polish Inferno,” on the other hand, is devoid of gamification. With the wide availability of the Oculus Rift, what other experiences will developers and artists want to curate for us?