There’s no doubting that the view from atop Mount Everest—the tallest mountain on the planet—is stunning. Indescribable, even. A view so grand that it’s unable to be properly captured by mere pictures or video.
Unfortunately, most regular people have a terrible tolerance for freezing cold and unwillingness to assume the risk associated with such an expedition. Maybe you’re braver and thicker skinned than I, but the 30,000 ft. climb takes you through take you through a literal death zone just to reach that view. No thanks.
Now, Reykjavik-based virtual reality developer Sólfar Studios has opened up the splendor of Mount Everest to the masses. According to Fortune, the studio has created a virtual reality game that will allow users to experience Mount Everest from the comfort of their own home. While you cannot claim to have actually climbed Mount Everest after playing (experiencing?) this game, Everest VR has some notable advantages to the actual icy peaks.
While a real trek up the famous mountain will take eight weeks, the virtual experience will span a few hours. And the price of a Vive, Rift, or PlayStation VR will be far less than the $45,000 required to scale the real mountain. Plus, virtual reality is much safer.
Safer, cheaper, and a hell of a lot warmer—all good attributes when it comes to recreational activities.
“Maintaining verisimilitude is important, but at the same time we´re not setting out to create a hiking simulator or highly technical mountaineering game,” Gunnarsson says. “The trick is to find that balance. Give players a series of key vignettes or experiences that really evoke those key moments of an expedition, and do those in a fashion that is faithful to the emotional experience climbers have of the mountain.”
Rather than just rely on actual 360-degree imaging—which is accurate but can look static in appearance—the gaming company partnered with the animation studio responsible for—wait for it—the 2015 Everest movie. The visuals were then combined with detailed advice from climbers with real Everest experience to create the feel of a fully-immersive climb exclusive to visual reality simulators that include hand controllers (like the ones mentioned above). With them, you’ll be able to climb a ladder on the Khumbu Icefall, traverse ledges, and even adjust the oxygen tank that climbers use to avoid hypoxia.
Virtual reality’s big sell is that it lets you live out your most self-aggrandizing adventurous dreams without any concern for your actual constitution. Though, just because you’re playing from your couch it doesn’t mean the experience is totally devoid of that special kind of awe-inspiring fear—apparently some early testers were so freaked by the visuals that they couldn’t finish the game at all.