Creepy VR 'death simulator' claims to show users what happens when they die

Artist Shaun Gladwell has recently developed a near-death experience that apparently walks people through the slow decay of life, from brain death to cardiac arrest, in hopes that it may put people’s stress and anxiety to rest about what the afterlife holds. Photos of the exhibit were posted by Nasitra on Instragram who took the photos at the Ian Potter Center in Melbourne.

The Daily Mail reported that it uses virtual reality simulations to guide participants through different elements of the dying process. There is also an out-of-body option, which allows the participant to look down on their own deceased body.

However, it is not likely that the virtual reality simulation represents an accurate picture of what happens when we pass away. There are, of course, reports that people see a light at the end of the tunnel, or that they hear the screams of the damned, but none of these carry weight outside the subjective experience of the individual.

One TikToker, known as croom12, went through the virtual experience. He described how he laid down on a bed that started vibrating when he flatlined, and that he witnessed doctors attempting to revive him in the process, according to the report. 

The TikToker also noted that the experience could cause anxiety, and that the user can quit at any time. However, the possibility of experiencing anxiety during the process appears to go against the whole purpose of the simulation in the first place.

Gladwell’s “Passing Electrical Storms” is now being shown at the Melbourne Now event in Australia, where it has been described as “a participatory XR experience with a deeply affecting, ‘out-of-body’ nature.”

The experience is reported to be both “meditative and unsettling,” per the Daily Mail.

There is a second VR headset that is said to kill users when they die in a game. Palmer Luckey, creator of NerveGear and Oculus founder, noted that VR simulation “destroys the brain” when the person loses in a game.

NerveGear apparently uses an Oculus headset that aims three “explosive charge modules” directly into the user’s skull as part of the experience.

Luckey sold his firm Oculus to Meta in 2014 for $3 billion, describing the latest VR device as “incredible,” according to the report.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

“This is an area of videogame mechanics that has never been explored, despite the long history of real-world sports revolving around similar stakes.”

Though the VR development seems like Ready Player One and a Black Mirror episode, it remains to be seen how scalable this experience will be for the average consumer. It is hard to tell how many people will want to experience death, with all its stress and anxiety, before facing the real thing.


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