New Age of Horror: Virtual Haunted Houses


October 31, 2017

Behind pumpkin carving and trick or treating, the haunted house attraction is perhaps the most quintessential Halloween attraction. Thrill seekers subject themselves to jumps, scares, and shocks from masked monsters in traditionally dark and twisted corridors. They’re also commonly referred to as haunted mazes, because once inside, the guest quickly loses all sense of the outside world. They are trapped in confined hallways with the only hope of escape lying at the end of the winding tunnel.

The first haunted attraction was opened over a hundred years ago in the UK under the name Orton and Spooner Ghost House. A century later, the tradition of haunted houses has only grown in popularity, and this Halloween, technologists are using virtual reality and augmented reality to put a new spin on the old scares. Virtual haunted houses are all the rage.


Reality Check at the Houston Museum of Natural Science


Scary virtual reality and augmented reality games are nothing new. Over the last few years, games like Sisters have pioneered the new era of haunted houses, but Reality Check at the Houston Museum of Natural Science moves the medium a step forward, no pun intended. Whereas Sisters and other virtual reality games ask their players to remain seated during the game for safety reasons, the haunted attraction puts players on their feet.

In a clear, open, and carpeted space, guests to the attraction are given a few simple instructions. Raise one hand if you’re lost in the game and need directions or raise both hands if you are too scared to continue. Aside from that, the players must navigate the haunted maze through virtual reality goggles. Once completed, the exhibit attendants show the guests their footpath, which always appears remarkably small compared to the lengths they think they traveled in the game.

Beyond the virtual reality haunted house, Reality Check takes on the wider subject of virtual and augmented reality. There are kiosks that have interactive games, augmented reality screens, and more. These each serve to showcase the different areas of the virtual and augmented reality industry.


Night Terrors — Turn Your Home into a Haunted House


Reviews are mixed for the augmented reality game Night Terrors: The Beginning which was released last year. Though it’s hard to deny that the premise is enticing. Night Terrors promises to turn your own home or apartment into a haunted house. Rather than winding through dark corridors in an unfamiliar place, the game haunts your own home with ghastly apparitions using augmented reality technology. The play holds their smartphone up as they walk throughout their home, and the program will superimpose frightening imagery onto the screen displaying the interior of your home before you. In effect, it mimics the reality of what it would be like to hunt for ghosts in your own home.

Night Terrors distinguishes itself from other AR and VR games, because it avoids the use of 3D models to create virtual characters. Instead, real life props and images are filmed, digitally stylized, and added to the game. The creator of Night Terrors argues that 3D models in AR and VR applications do not appear realistic enough at this time to frighten the user.


Happy Halloween from Mindsight


Augmented and virtual reality is usually an exciting topic because of its potential to improve the lives of others. Whether for medical, educational, or assisted living applications, augmented and virtual reality has a clear use and goal. In this instance, AR and VR are simply fun and serve to heighten an already thrilling experience. Noble or frivolous, there is a lot to look forward to as these technologies mature.

However you find your scares this Halloween, whether in a classic haunted house or a virtual space, we hope it’s a memorable one. Happy Halloween from Mindsight.

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For Further Reading:

Halloween Tech: Ghouls, Gadgets, and Applications

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