Nintendo’s “Inhumane” Virtual Boy Testing Process Likened To ‘A Clockwork Orange’

Earlier today, we reported on a new video fromĀ Do you know the games. This sheds light on the Virtual Boy F-Zero spin-off Zero Racers, which was once thought to be nothing more than a series of screenshots but appears to have been completely finished. The source is former Nintendo of America associate producer Jim Warnell, who in the same interview discusses the rather extreme testing process of the Virtual Boy console itself:

When they tested people for the Virtual Boy, they put us through it… Did you ever watch the movie A Clockwork Orange? A scene where a person is pressed against a chair with open eyelids? It was similar to what testing the Virtual Boy was like. They dilated our pupils, forced us to sit with our heads in this vise, and illuminated our pupils with light. They’d have these plastic rods, they’d barely touch our eyes – and they’d say, “Okay, no matter what, don’t blink for a minute.”

They put us through the most bizarre tests just to make sure this thing is safe to use. They blew into our eyes, forced us to play the Virtual Boy test set for 10-15 minutes, and then rested. Then they widened our eyes again. 2 or 3 rounds of this weird, inhuman torture just to make sure this thing doesn’t kill me or blind me or something like that.

But hmm… yes, it was interesting.

If you’re not aware, A Clockwork Orange is a 1962 book by Anthony Burgess that was made into a movie by the legendary Stanley Kubrick in 1971. Alex’s character and the government’s attempt to cure his mindless level of violence with an experimental disgust therapy called “The Ludovico Technique.” During one scene, Alex’s eyelids are forcibly opened, and he is forced to watch scenes of war and conflict, eventually becoming sick from the footage and “cured” of his aggressive nature.

While Nintendo’s methods seem pretty extreme, they may have been right to be wary of the Virtual Boy. The system is notorious for causing headaches after extended use, and when Reflection Technology – the company that created the visual technology that makes the system possible – met with Sega before eventually selling it to Nintendo, there were problems.

Former Sega President Tom Kalinske explains:

The big problem was that children got sick, vomited, or fell when using this device. We couldn’t take advantage of this opportunity.

However, at least the Virtual Boy has one high-end fan.

You can read more about the amazing history of the Virtual Boy here.


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