When historians look back decades from now, they may wonder what killed virtual reality in the ‘10s. The technology was finally cheap and sophisticated. Billions of dollars were poured into funding hardware and software. Even skeptics were slowly being won over. But then they will find this Reddit thread, and it will all make sense.
The answer is spiders.
If you’re arachnophobic, you may want to close this tab.
Early this morning, Reddit user Jhzanto went to r/Vive for some much-needed advice. "I had the headset on and I see a blob move in front of the right eye," they wrote. "I take the headset off and see it’s a spider. It ran into the cracks just above the left eye. I can't get it out!!!"
How big is this spider? "It's probably about the size of a quarter, if not a little bigger," Jhzanto elaborated. "It was on the outside, the part that the foam attaches to. Just behind that on the ‘cup’ part of the headset." There are thankfully no pictures, although all they’d capture would be a normal-looking headset with a spider somewhere in the cracks, waiting. (This assumes, of course, this spider tale is real, and not some off-platform #twitterchiller.)
"He's deep into the hardware, I can't see it him at all," Jhzanto said. "I'll just put the headset in a bag for a few days, but there's no way in hell I'm putting it back on." Several people pointed out that spiders can probably live for quite some time while stuck in a bag. "It sounds like you're [returning] this headset anyway, so if you leave it in the bag for shipping it can be HTC’s problem," noted another user.
Ironically, controlled VR environments are actually used to treat phobias, including fear of spiders. But this is one of those cases in which fear seems like a totally appropriate response, because a VR headset is essentially a box that goes over one of the most sensitive areas of your body. Even if this thread is totally fake, I can’t get the implications of that out of my head. To quote my colleague Sam Byford, an avid Vive user:
it’s like the head cage with the rats in 1984
Sorry, VR! You had a good run, but I’m going to go scream now.
Actually, I’m about to go set up our own office Vive, after it spent several days at last weekend’s Panorama festival. I’ve got some great games to catch up on! I will also be shaking it out for spiders — or god knows what other creatures — very, very carefully.