We like it when people take a little extra pride in customizing their battle stations, be it a xenomorph head, a wine fountain, or my personal favorite, “a damn gun.” If you’re one of those high-tech VR gamers, though, you might be just a little busy waving musical light sabers to build a fancy, decked-out gaming PC.
But what if you put the effort that would go into a custom PC build into a one-of-a-kind VR station, instead? The kind you could use to really immerse yourself into the cockpit of a ship in Elite: Dangerous, or to actually rollerblade in VR?
These folks went all-out on their unique VR builds, and their experience playing some of the best games VR has to offer has been made all the better for it. Check out these awesome VR setups below.
The ejection seat
Meet YouTube user mdbuehler. I love this guy. Not just because he’s got a voice so warm and inviting that I actually watched a 12 minute video about War Thunder, but because his love for flight clearly extends well into his life. At first glance, it might seem like just another big chair and flight stick, but that’s actually a real ejection chair out of an F-106 Delta Dart, aka the “Ultimate Interceptor” military plane from the 1960s to early 1980s.
The seat itself would use a small explosion to launch fighters out of a plane in the event of an emergency, although it didn’t have the greatest record at low altitude and at Mach-1 or Mach-2 speeds.
Rounding things out is a “skirt-friendly” yoke made by Precision Flight Controls, which designs simulators for real-life Air Force and NASA training programs. Does your Staples office chair do that? I didn’t think so. Don’t forget the adorable dog napping at your side, either.
The "White Chest of Darkness"
While it might sound like the bad nickname you give your tanning-challenged buddy and kind of look like a meat freezer, the “White Chest of Darkness” is actually a really tasteful bit of hidden storage space. Redditor veriix was inspired by a similar rig called the “Dark Chest of Wonders,” and installed a shifter, handbrake, internal amp, adjustable chair with rails, a self-bracing steering wheel stand so no locking mechanism would be needed, all the necessary VR headset inputs, and of course, a cup holder.
Veriix estimates it ran him about $500 and eight trips to the hardware store. Check out the 100-picture build log, complete with bonus dog.
The VR hope chest
When you’re done contemplating the Chest of Darkness, check out this much classier little hope chest filled with VR gizmos instead of your mother’s high school albums. Reddit user James “Maverick” Turner says it took three months of design work, a year of building, $400-$500, and his wife’s permission to make the quite tasteful bit of folding furniture. On top of all that, the man comes from a legit Air Force family, so it only makes sense he’s got his name stamped into the side of his cockpit.
According to one of his Reddit posts, he was turned away from the United States Coast Guard due to a diabetes diagnosis, but he’s slowly working on an FAA license, and flying the virtual skies in the meantime, dressed in a custom uniform complete with embroidered name patch. We salute your valiant gaming efforts, James.
Roller blading in VR
As if waving your arms around your bedroom wasn’t precarious enough, now we’ve got skates in on the game. Judging from the accompanying video, he’s got a wire attached to his skates, which apparently allows him a decent enough sense of mobility. The thing I really dig about this is that this guy managed to do what Google has yet to.
While they’re over there finalizing their 86th blueprint draft for “motorized footwear," he went down to Dick’s Sporting Goods and got himself a pair of blades for $50. If Palmer Luckey and John Carmack can start out with a tin box literally duct taped to their faces, this guy can go, er, roll the distance too.
Tiny Train Jam rig
While you’ll never run out of wealthy gamers blowing a grand on elaborate butt holsters, let’s not forget that game developers are just as creative, and often with one-tenth of the real estate. This fancy little thing comes courtesy of Juan Rubio, who uses it for VR and mobile game development. The developer needed something for Train Jam, a game jam that’s... you get the idea.
Over the course of a month, Rubio got a 2K monitor and a GTX 980 wedged in there, and it’s all powered by a single cable. Convenient for when you’re fending off outlet leeches on the Amtrak.
The Feel Three motion simulator
The Feel Three Virtual Reality Motion simulator says it can also be used as an "ultra modern chair when you're not exploring the galaxy," which makes me wonder what a regular modern chair is supposed to feel like. Anyway, this hulking thing starts at $2850, features a "9DOF gyro/accelerometer," and a four-point harness for when you really feel like taking on that giant fleshy alien vessel.
VR with motion controls is plenty immersive, but it's even better with the tactile feel of the real thing you're simulating. That's the idea behind this 8-inch VR "pinball machine" from Tested.com's Jeremy Williams. The software involved here basically tricks your PC into thinking the pinball buttons are an Xbox controller, but you have your hands on what feels like a real table.
It can also accommodate feedback rumble, as well as an accelerometer that detects when you bump the table. It's definitely a project for the technologically inclined, but Williams provides a really comprehensive materials list and instructions. Maybe the price tag will keep you from tilting.