A student is modding Grand Theft Auto V in virtual reality and even he thinks maybe this is going a step too far.
New Jersey Institute of Technology student Joseph Delgado, who created a spiffy VR version of Duck Hunt recently, has started working on a mod project that brings the notoriously violent, hugely satirical game into VR headsets like the Oculus Rift. The mod uses hand tracking to make shooting folks in the game feel a little more “real”—you actually aim the gun as if you were holding it at people to shoot them. In fact, it might be a step too far: GTA is known for wanton violence, but blasting away at innocent civilians when it actually kind of feels like aiming and firing a gun creates a pretty awful sensation, Delgado wrote on his blog, where you can see a little of the mod in motion.
“I’m really not sure about this,” he wrote. “I feel horrible about making this. You actually feel guilty. My mouth dropped the first time I shot someone in my GTA: V VR setup.”
Back in the 1990s, disbarred attorney Jack Thompson, during his crusade against video games, famously referred to games like Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City as “murder simulators.” It’s kind of goofy to suggest that shooting anybody using a Playstation controller might be considered simulating murder, but it sounds like Delgado’s VR mod gets it a lot closer to feeling weirdly real.
As an experiment, Delgado says he’s very conscious of the psychological effects as he messes around with gunning down random digital folks in GTA. “I feel like I’m looking at a crime scene every time I mess with this,” he wrote on Reddit.
Meanwhile, with real-life shootings happening just about every day in 2015, and VR about to hit the mainstream market in a big way, the question of what kinds of games get made and how they can affect people becomes an interesting point of discussion. VR is already being used in interesting ways, like to give people different perspectives on things like police shootings; maybe a VR GTA V will carry very different feelings and lessons than the goofy violence usually present in these games. You can follow updates on Delgado’s GTA V mod on his blog.