I place the Oculus Rift on my head, stretching its spring-loaded frame onto my skull. The visor slides down over my eyes. The lenses fill with light. It feels like I’m wearing a set of ski goggles attached to a baseball cap — the most advanced baseball cap in the world.

For $600, it had better be. Not counting the hundreds I spent to upgrade my computer.

Inside the fabric-covered contraption, I see a computer-generated room. It’s not very striking at first. It’s a little bit grainy, like I’m looking through a fine mesh. My field of view seems a little small. But when I move my head, the room is all around me. Whichever way I look, or lean, or even crouch down, my perspective shifts as if I were actually there.

This is not like having a tiny TV strapped to my face. Nothing like the Google Glass or Virtual Boy of yore. This feels like I’ve inserted my head into another world.

Admittedly, it’s a world where I’m wearing a big, black goggle-cap that keeps me from seeing as clearly as I’d like. At least the straps are fairly comfortable and you only have to adjust them once.

The visual artifacts don’t always bug me. Like the drops of water on my car’s windshield on a rainy day, I usually find myself ignoring the slightly blurry vision and the glowing halos that constantly appear around any bright object in the world. Other times, they’re all I can think about.

Sometimes, I want to take off the helmet. To feel the wind on my face. But as soon as I rip it off, I’m no longer a bird. I’m just a dude, sitting in his apartment, with sweat on my brow.

There’s something on the table. I lean forward; I can see it. And I can reach forward, and pick it up.

Each of my hands, somewhere, are encased in plastic, buttons. In this world, I’m pushing through, holding the cup in my hands. I now look for the pot, the one on the stove. I lift it. I pour everything into the cup. And now, ever so carefully, I put the cup down on a table that doesn’t exist.

My head pokes into this world, and I can pull back at these magic pieces. I grab the pot and throw it across the room.

I’m on a field. I lift my arm. The plays I’m meant to call are written across it. I touch one with my other hand. Then a ball lands in my hands, and I see my receiver. I raise my arm, and throw.

My hands are in front of me. I can see them, but they’re metal, like crab claws. They’re guns. They’re clown gloves. They’re dog paws. They’re whatever they need to be. They change. But I can lift them, move them. Or am I just pushing buttons? Am I moving, or dreaming I’m moving? It becomes so seamless I can’t tell.

I reach into my ear. I pull out a magic ball. I reach into my mouth. I pull out a flower.

 

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