Dying woman's wish to go outside made possible with Oculus Rift

Oculus VR donates a development kit to make the wish come true.

The Oculus Rift headset, according to Palmer Luckey, is going to change the world. It's already done that for one woman. Diagnosed with cancer and too weak for extended mobility, Roberta Firstenberg told her granddaughter Priscilla than she wanted to go outside, even if that meant only walking around her front yard.

Priscilla, a Seattle-based video game artist, sent a note to Oculus last year asking if they could help her, reports Rift Arcade. The Oculus VR support team unanimously agreed that they wanted to help out, and so they dispatched a development kit to Priscilla as soon as they could.

Firstenberg originally tried out demos Eden River, Ocean Rift, and Rewind London Experience and described using the virtual reality headset as "like a therapy" for her. She also grew to enjoy the Google Street View VR demo, but her granddaughter wanted to do more.

So she hatched a plan to assemble some friends and colleagues to create a demo filled with the things Firstenberg enjoyed the most--butterflies, waterfalls, and a forest with fairies. However, Firstenberg's cancer began to spread and she became too weak to continue to use Oculus Rift.

Firstenberg died four weeks after trying Oculus Rift for the first time.

The possibilities for VR in gaming are obvious, but Luckey and the rest of Oculus VR--now owned by social networking giant Facebook--contend that VR will disrupt and impact numerous other industries like film and live events. As Firstenberg's account tells us, VR is also capable of providing end-of-life therapy. Who knows what other applications we'll see next.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

309 comments
kayna13
kayna13

What a Beautiful story! R.I.P. I am so happy she got to expierence such beauty before she passed on. The things technology can accomplish to make people's lives better. To her family.. my condolences and prayers are with you all.

PeejayYeh
PeejayYeh

The console made it possible fot her to, at least, "walk" and "go outside". It is astonishing how can a piece of hardware can change lives for the better.

We need to look at this article not as a advertisement, but a reminder that small things that a machine can "simply" do nowadays has a impact to our lives, in small and great extent. We need to appreciate what technology can do for us to improve our lives, psychologically. physically, emotionally, and philosophically.

These kind of news is what we need to read nowadays.

wgerardi
wgerardi

I thought most GameSpot users were cool until I read the comments sections for this article. Seriously, there are IGN level pieces of shit in here that I had no idea existed. Go fuck yourselves, each and every goddamn one of you who are using this as a platform to go on your shit head psycho "evil facebook" rants.

WiteLine
WiteLine

OMG!  Oculus killed that poor woman!  SHAM!!!!!!!!

bmart970
bmart970

But the thing is she didn't go outside. She didn't get to breathe fresh air or feel anything outside. Virtual things should never replace the real stuff.

lordquasar
lordquasar

Hmm. I would have pushed her around in a wheel chair. Unless she lived in a crappy place in Seattle. But there are parks all over rent a van take her the Seattle arboretum it is lovely all year.

Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

The real story: Random video game artist takes advantage of sick relative, who she can't be bothered to move on a wheelchair, to get her hands on an Oculus Rift headset in exchange for publicity.

Takeno456
Takeno456

I am glad that Oculus helped this women have a bit of joy before she passed away. Gaming can be more helpful then what people think. 

randybumgardner
randybumgardner

video games are greatly beneficial for many reasons.  nice to hear another.

Metalnoid
Metalnoid

OMG! This thing kills people - "Firstenberg died four weeks after trying Oculus Rift for the first time"

Naveen196
Naveen196

Well, at least her home was peaceful, and its inhabitants kind. 

AzatiS
AzatiS

I dont like this kind of shit to be honest...


Yeah , great for the guys that send that "unanimously" but in my opinion , not THAT unanimously as they should ..... When you help someone at the last stage of his life in that fashion , YOU DONT take advantage of it ... you can advertise this in way better fashion than taking advantage a sure to die human being , supposed you helping her "unanimously"...


I dont know , maybe im wrong , thats how i see it though... Great for them that helped and all but shame on them that took advantage of this sad situation to advertise their product IF they did it on purpose ( which i think they did ).

dustyskunk
dustyskunk

This happened long before the FB aquisition. It clearly isn't a FB PR stunt. It's simply something Gamespot just got wind of and is now reporting. You might try being appreciative of (or at least constructively criticize) how technology enabled a very sick woman to realize her dying wishes rather than turn this comment section into another battleground for the "Let's Hate on OR/FB" campaign... there's enough of that everywhere else on the internet. 

5443Thomas
5443Thomas

and they said gaming is useless.....

starhowl
starhowl

 Shills: Please buy Oculus Rift; we need to scan your retinas and connect them to your Facebook profile for NSA!


This gamespot news was brought to you by your friendly merchant around the corner.

WR_Platinum
WR_Platinum

A heart warming and sad story. At the same time, showing how technology (that's also part of gaming) can be good for humans.

Mandrew257
Mandrew257

Couldn't she just have had someone roll her around outside in a wheelchair?

marcelinof
marcelinof

I signed in just to say that this makes me proud to be part of the gaming community, RIP grandma Firstenberg 

packtop
packtop

This is nice  for her and all, but what the hell do this have to do with gaming news ?

blutfahne
blutfahne

"Fat person uses Oculus Rift to eat... loses 500lbs! More at ten." EM

XNEXUS666X
XNEXUS666X

This is quite a sad story, but she never really went outside, which is even more sad. The problem with us humans is that we're disconnected from nature, seems we're still going in the wrong direction. Wouldn't it have been better to wheel her out into the sunshine rather than put some virtual headset on her and say "that's good enough"? I think it would have been easier too. Poor woman.

kayna13
kayna13

@bmart970 for someone who can't do those things.. wouldn't you feel its better for her to see some beauty instead of the confinement of her home? As long as she was content with that, that is all that matters. I know, I rather see some beautiful waterfalls , flowers.. butterflies instead of something not to pretty outside my home. My opinion only.

imnofanboy96
imnofanboy96

@bmart970  I think they made it clear,SHE CAN'T GO OUTSIDE!! At least team oculus did their best..she didnt actually walk but it sure gave her something close to it

kayna13
kayna13

@Bellum_Sacrum Really? why do you choose to see such negativity instead of something beautiful they did for this lady and their family? People are so quick to judge and hate on others instead of seeing goodness. I hope life gets better for you.

kayna13
kayna13

@CapnXtraObvious I think she had to. She got to see some beauty, not matter what form it was in. What a wonderful thing right?

kayna13
kayna13

@AzatiS Why do you feel they took advantage of this woman? The family asked for one, had an Idea to make her life pleasant. So how could you make this into a bad thing? Shame on you.

merrickx
merrickx

@AzatiS  You don't realize how many Rift videos are in existence currently, and hardly any of them have some sort of strange, ulterior motive outside of just wanting to share amazing experiences. I don't like your shit to be honest.

dustyskunk
dustyskunk

@AzatiS  Advertise? Where is this advertisement you speak of? Neither OR or FB has announced that they donated the Rift to these folks. It's Pris (the woman who made the video) that is telling the story here. If it was advertisement or a PR move the companies would have this plastered on their web pages or be shouting it from the rooftops (let's face it- stories like this are golden PR material). Here are the facts:

Gamespot apparently either just found this or only think it's newsworthy now that there is a buzz over the Rift.
A news agency writing an article on a topic does necessarily qualify as advertising for that topic's subject matter. 

Finally...

****If this woman hadn't made her video no one would know about it.****


What does that say to you? Do you still feel like it's advertising or these companies taking advantage of a sickly old lady?

I love the idea of VR and the doors it might open. This is a prime example of something that is possible now that the technology has matured to the point where it's actually usable. To be clear I don't like the fact that FB bought OR, but I also don't feel like that automatically means everything will be "Farmville VR" or "Riftbook" or <insert-newest-lame-internet-OR-joke-here>. I will believe that when I see it, and so far FB has done nothing but what they said they would do- that is, leave Oculus alone while they develop the Rift. As soon as they do require signs ins or other BS to use the hardware, I'm giving my business to one of their (now many) competitors.  

I also feel like this isn't the place to talk about the politics/business of what's happening with the Rift. I only said what I did above to clarify my viewpoint. This is a story about a lady who managed to realize her dying wishes through a piece of new technology.

vlainstrike
vlainstrike

@AzatiS  You don't seem to know the difference between unanimous and anonymous.

bhmg
bhmg

@WR_Platinum  And a fucking evil propaganda made by facebook wanting to soften the bad reputation. =.=

WereCatf
WereCatf

@Mandrew257 It rather clearly says at the beginning of the video that the grandmother wanted to *walk* around in their park and travel around -- neither of which were anymore possible for her. Just read what it says at the beginning of it, you'll see.

merrickx
merrickx

@packtop  Er.... the big fncking device on her head, the thing featured throughout the entirety of the video.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

You truly are dense. You and blutfahne should hook up and swear a suicide pack. Do us a favor and don't fail like you did here.

WereCatf
WereCatf

@XNEXUS666X It rather clearly says at the beginning of the video that the grandmother wanted to *walk* around in their park and travel around -- neither of which were anymore possible for her. Just read what it says at the beginning of it, you'll see.

DeusGladiorum
DeusGladiorum

@XNEXUS666X  I don't think her family was so daft as to not consider wheeling her outside. I believe her main wish to be able to walk outside, not just go out. Even in the event that she truly couldn't have gone outside, I'm sure there was a valid reasoning for it. Humans may be becoming more and more disconnected from nature, but I don't think anyone's become so detached from it that they can't figure out or don't want to consider something so obvious simply because it relates to the outdoors.

hystavito
hystavito

@XNEXUS666X  I was also wondering why they didn't actually take her outside.  I think that's not literally what it meant.  Maybe the idea was that she could not "move" herself, walk herself around, and the VR experience allowed her to control it so it was more like she was moving herself around.

hitechgraphs
hitechgraphs

@XNEXUS666X Aww you are going to make me cry.You forgot to say and that was only possible to the good guys of FB. Complete BS.

AzatiS
AzatiS

@vlainstrike maybe thats the issue with my above statement but either way what happened is wrong ... they should have done this in entirely other fashion and NOT promote their Virtual reality , best of all , the next gen gaming experience.. upon a near to death human being. You dont understand my logic behind my point even if i was wrong on unanimously word definition

dustyskunk
dustyskunk

@bhmg @WR_Platinum  Dude, FB wasn't even in the picture when this video was made. This happened long before the aquisition. 

merrickx
merrickx

@AzatiS  "should have done this in entirely other fashion..."


How do you mean? What other device would allow her to experience life outside of a house? Or, do you mean they shouldn't have created and posted a video of her experiences? In either case, your disapproval seems idiotic. Hundreds, thousands of people are posting videos about the Oculus Rift and others' reactions to the technology. 


I think you should go about this whole comment thing in entirely other fashion.

Verenti
Verenti

@AzatiS Look at the video. It's the granddaughter releasing a video of what she did for her Grandmother with the rift as a therapeutic device. There is not one shred of evidence the video was made at the behest of Oculus. I'm not sure what you must think of the woman to think she is exploit her recently deceased grandmother to hype a product.

Gamespot is, nominally, a news site. It picks up stories of interest in addition to press releases.