I wish I had video of Larrabee trying the Google Cardboard viewer for the first time. He watched a 360-degree video about five National Parks on the NYT VR app. And he definitely found the experience immersive!
He spun around. He looked up. He looked down. He reached his toe out to touch something that only he could see. “Whoa,” he said several times.
His experience with virtual reality reminded me of the descriptions of early movies in The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Hugo remembers how his father described seeing his first movie: “like seeing his dreams in the middle of the day.” Later in the story, Hugo finds a book called The Invention of Dreams: The Story of the First Movies Ever Made. He reads:
In 1895, one of the very first films ever shown was called A Train Arrives in the Station, which was nothing more than what the title suggests, a train coming into the station. But when the train came speeding toward the screen, the audience screamed and fainted because they thought they were in danger of being run over. No one had ever seen anything like it before.
Mark’s father has a similar story. As a young man, he worked as a movie theatre usher in Washington state. Back them, talking pictures were still a novelty. One day, the theatre showed a Western. When a gunfight broke out in the movie, two cowboys in the audience pulled their guns from their holsters and returned fire! The screen sported two small holes for months.