The answer is no, virtual reality farts are not the future of games. But smells in general? A definite possibility.
That was my conclusion after waiting in line at PAX West 2016 in Seattle — yes, I waited in line for this — to experience the “Nosulus Rift.” This real, working prototype from Ubisoft straps around your face and blows a noxious smell, meant to approximate a fart, in conjunction with particular moves in the upcoming game “South Park: The Fractured But Whole.” One such move is called “Fartkour,” as the New Kid uses the power of his farts to scale a wall.
Are you regretting clicking on this story as much as I’m regretting taking part in the experience?
To answer the obvious question, yes, the smell was awful, like a combination of sulfur and bittersweet chocolate left in the sun for too long.
It’s the perfect companion to the “South Park” franchise, and Ubisoft is having a lot of fun with it. Maybe too much fun, as you can see in this spoof video released by the game publisher and developer.
The device works by heating up scented capsules and blowing air out of a nozzle directly into the nose. Ubisoft reps at the PAX West booth jokingly called it “the future of video games,” but in reality it’s a marketing ploy, meant to generate attention and funny pictures at events, and it isn’t expected to be a real product.
That said, I can attest to the fact that it worked very well — maybe too well — as a delivery mechanism for a very specific smell. So why shouldn’t virtual reality game makers do something like this with good smells? Like Smell-O-Vision for the 21st Century.
Meanwhile, I will be doing my best to forget this whole thing. Best of luck to you in that endeavor, as well.