When I was a kid, all I wanted was to be able to step through the pages of my favorite book into the world its words described. A common fantasy, right? But now that virtual reality devices are hitting the mainstream market, my dream isn’t so farfetched any more. VR headsets will be on sale in time for the holidays, which made us at Quirk wonder…what would it be like if someone made games featuring our favorite fictional realities?
Read on to hear about eight of them!
The Bioshock video games feature Rapture, an underwater city accessible only by submarine. Its buildings are art deco masterpieces, and its denizens look like fashion plates from the 1950s and 1960s. How amazing would it be to put on Oculus Rift and enter the underwater skyscrapers of Rapture? You’d be able to see schools of fish swim by the window and sip coffee at a cafe hundreds of feet under the ocean's surface. Oh, and hide from the crazy Splicers that have started taking over Rapture’s once-pristine neighborhoods ever since a pesky little revolution. Rapture is an example of why we can’t have nice things, but it’s also the kind of world we’d never be able to experience on our own.
Neil Gaiman’s comic book masterpiece tells the story of Dream, one of the Endless: the most powerful beings in the universe. Dream, or Morpheus, controls the world of sleep, whereas the other Endless - Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Delirium, and Destruction - control the rest of the world’s goings-on. All mortals’ lives are shaped by the Endless, but we average folk have no idea, for the most part. Imagine being able to see their influence, though! And imagine wandering around The Dreaming, Morpheus’s shadowy and ever-changing realm. It might actually drive you crazy - but it would be an experience you’d never forget.
Not as scary as Rapture, or as epic as Middle Earth, the literary landscape of Dr. Seuss’s books is instead whimsical and brightly-colored. This is a VR game for the days when you need a mood pick-me-up. You’d run into the Cat in the Hat, hang out with Max the Dog, help Horton hear that all-important Who, and choose whether or not to partake of green eggs and ham. (I’ve wanted to eat green eggs and ham since I was 3, though, so that’s not even a question for me.) And instead of working on your hand-to-hand combat or magic skills, you’d be honing your rhyming abilities. What’s not to love?
You know that conspiracy going around that the earth is flat? (Looking at you, B.o.B.) Well, use Oculus Rift to step into Discworld and the earth’s just that: a disc that rests on the backs of four elephants. If you play the Discworld game, expect to encounter cheeky send-ups to fantasy archetypes, like wizards with no power and no ambition, beer-drinking witches, and Death himself, riding around on his pale horse (Binky) while tossing out hilarious one-liners in SMALL CAPS. Maybe you’ll hang out in the silliest-named city of all time, Ankh-Morpork. Or maybe you’ll become Death’s fearsome apprentice, which means mucking out Binky’s stable and dealing with Death’s sassy teenage daughter. Up to you!
THE GOLDEN COMPASS
In this alternate reality, every human’s soul exists outside their bodies in the form of a daemon, or an animal that reflects someone’s personality. Think a Patronus, but it’s with you all the time, and it can talk. Can you imagine how amazing it would be if you put on Oculus Rift and could interact with your own daemon - and not just yours, but your friends’ and coworkers’? I’ve had a fantasy of one day waking up to my own barn owl daemon sitting on the edge of my bed, so Golden Compass-themed VR would fulfill that nicely. Also, Philip Pullman’s books are set in a steampunk world where travel by hot air balloon is common and a Victorian aesthetic prevails, so that’s, you know, the dream.
The high fantasy that started them all is, of course, the ultimate fantasy to explore through VR. As a kid who loved the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, I envisioned myself walking through Rivendell’s graceful archways and poking around the depths of Mirkwood…and so did thousands of other Tolkien fans. With Oculus Rift, you could converse with Ents or find glory by joining the Riders of Rohan. Sure, the Peter Jackson movies brought that world to the movie screen, but can you imagine experiencing it all around you? It’s the ultimate nerd dream!
Fantasy and sci-fi not your thing? No problem. An Oculus Rift game that incorporated all the characters of the Jane Austen novels would let you immerse yourself in a world of tea-drinking, subtle shade-throwing, and matchmaking. And dope bustle skirts, of course. Maybe you’d meddle in the affairs of the Bennet family, stealing Darcy or Lizzy away for yourself. Or maybe you’d assist Emma in pairing up genteel ladies and gentlemen so that she doesn’t break so many hearts along the way. As with Austen’s novels, this would be a game for those who prefer social intrigue to a sword fight (although a duel or two wouldn’t be out of place).
You didn’t think we were going to leave Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children off this list, did you? Tim Burton’s movie made the book come alive in all its eerie, lonely-island glory. You could explore Miss Peregrine’s loop, growing giant carrots with Fiona and learning about every second of the loop with Millard. Perhaps you’d fight hollows and hollowghasts. And surely you’d discover your own peculiarity…because in the world of VR, we’re all peculiar.