Grand Theft Auto V has just been released, and everyone is praising its realism in a way that makes me terrified to go anywhere near roads. Every Call of Duty game comes with people wowing about the accuracy in its portrayal of military technology (when it doesn’t include giant robots and zombies). People are trying harder and harder to make videogames more closely resemble the real world and I’m here to say we should stop. Have ever actually been to the real world? It sucks. The graphics are subpar, the difficulty curve is all over the place and the combat system is cumbersome and also painful. What I’m saying is, we shouldn’t be trying to make videogames like real life, we should try to make real life more like a videogame.
And what better way to do this than to view the world as if you were hovering several feet behind your own head? It’s a perspective that has been popular in Tomb Raider, the later Grand Theft Auto games, Oblivion, Fallout 3, Gears of War and others. It’s handy perspective because it allows you to see your surroundings, while also giving you a wider peripheral vision and allowing you to see your own badass self.
“But surely that’s impossible?” I hear you cry “Unless you happened to have some sort of magical Third Person Perspective Videogame Helmet!”
Well, it’s funny you should say that.
Here is a photo taken from inside our third person helmet, a device we rigged up over a weekend using a bunch of appliances and parts from the Internet and a local DIY store that came to a total cost only slightly more than buying Grand Theft Auto V brand new on release.
Step 1: What You Need
You will need:
1: A reverse rear view camera monitor. These are typically attached to car dashboards and are linked to a camera at the rear of the car to help with reversing into parking spaces. You can pick these up for around £20 if you shop around.
2: A wireless spy camera and receiver. These you can also pick up for in the region of £20.
3. A hard hat. It doesn’t need to be a top of the range one, you’re not going to be taking many knocks to the head while you’re wearing this, but if should be comfortable to wear and rigid enough to take all the components you’re going to be attaching to it.
4. Some grey plastic piping. You should be able to find this at your local DIY store.
5. A wire coat hanger.
6. Some pipe cleaners.
7. Some strong duct tape.
8. An old but sturdy cardboard box for cutting into pieces.
9. Two battery packs (for the spy camera and monitor).
10. Some sheets of packing foam.
Step 2: Building the Helmet
Start by feeding the coat hanger through the holes in the helmet. At the rear of the helmet the wire coat hanger ought to jut out, while at the front it should loop around to form a peak. Experiment with the length of the peak- this will determine how far away the TV is from your eyes, so you want to make sure you can focus.
Cut an outline of the peak from cardboard and fasten it over the wire coat hanger with the duct tape. Stick the TV to the underside of the peak and tape the receiver to the top of the peak. Connect the two using the wiring provided.
Hook one of your lengths of plastic piping onto the jutting coat hanger at the rear. Using more duct tape, and stabilising with pipe cleaners, have two more lengths of piping coming from either side of the helmet up to the central, rear length of piping. Bind all three lengths of piping together with duct tape.
Step 3: Sorting the Wiring
Secure the spy camera to the end of this rod with pipe cleaners and duct tape. It’s best if before you do this you place the camera on someone’s head so that you can get the angle and distances right. Don’t place the camera at the very end of the piping, leave a letter extra distance that can cushion with the packing paper, so that you don’t wreck the camera every time you turn round suddenly.
Your camera, TV and receiver will all need power. Trail the wires from the spy camera along the piping to the helmet, taping them in place. Likewise, tape the wiring from the receiver along the side of the helmet.
Using the leftover cardboard, create a cup on either side of the helmet as the pictures demonstrate.
Place a battery pack in either side of the helmet, and hook up the camera and receiver to each. Now your helmet should be functional and portable.
Use the remaining cardboard to create blinders to go on either side of the helmet’s peak (to stop the wearer sneakily using their peripheral vision rather than the monitor to navigate).
And there you have it! Anything loose or wobbly at this point you should reinforce with yet more duct tape.
Step 4: Testing It Out
To take the helmet for a test run it’s best to go outside to avoid knocking the camera against the walls, ceilings, doorframes and any precariously balanced Ming vases. Popular games we tried out with ours included “trying to hit a target with a NERF gun using only the 3rd person perspective” and “walking from one end of the garden to the other and back, then picking up your beer”. It was every bit as good as Grand Theft Auto V.