A roller coaster is an visceral experience: eyes closed and head-cocked back, many of us scream in an all too real terror — albeit a simulated terror. But, if there is any truth to Baudrillard’s Simulation and Simulacrum, in our “Digimodernist” world, the simulation is the truth, because the bulk of our perception’s emotions are locked up in virtual experiences. So, this would seem where Design Interactions PhD student Julijonas Urbonas takes his cue in the creation of the “Euthanasia Coaster”:
“Euthanasia Coaster” is a hypothetical euthanasia machine in the form of a roller coaster, engineered to humanely — with elegance and euphoria — take the life of a human being. Riding the coaster’s track, the rider is subjected to a series of intensive motion elements that induce various unique experiences: from euphoria to thrill, and from tunnel vision to loss of consciousness, and, eventually, death. Thanks to the marriage of the advanced cross-disciplinary research in space medicine, mechanical engineering, material technologies and, of course, gravity, the fatal journey is made pleasing, elegant and meaningful.
While creating a roller coaster to induce death might seem like a morbid and pointless act — in so far as the production of this roller coaster is unlikely, on one level the roller coaster operates as experiential life metaphor. But perhaps more importantly to us, the project seeks to engage in understanding cognitive-spatio relationships that induce certain emotions within a human being. In fact “Euthanasia Coaster” sits in a series of projects, whereby Urbonas seeks to understand the way gravity figures into aesthetic creation and enjoyment.
This becomes duly important when we think about how game designers are focusing on affective computing to create value for its gamers. As marketers and product designers, we can’t discount these seemingly peripheral elements as having impact on decision processes when we’re try to create experiences.