Mission

Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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Look at this VR donut

my lil donut
Look at this VR donut

Most people remember their first donut. There’s even a lot of arguments as to who first invented the classic morning snack. My personal first donut was a sprinkled donut, according to a text I just received from my mom. It was probably a good first go-around, akin to the pink sprinkled ones that Homer would eat in The Simpsons.

Back when I was in high school, a 24-hour donut spot that resided within my abysmally small town became a common stomping ground for my friends and I. There, we would eat plentiful donuts and drink bottled chocolate milk well into the odd hours of the night. We were pretty boring, to be completely honest. Donuts though, aren’t. They’re always delicious, sweet, and remind me of the good times in life. Now we all can experience that highly specific tinge of donut-laced nostalgia in VR too.

Can I put sprinkles on that? Only time will tell.
Can I put sprinkles on that? Only time will tell.

In My Lil’ Donut, a new VR experiment from developer Isaac “Cabbibo” Cohen, a donut lies before the player. Not just any randomized encircled heap of dough, but an endlessly customizable donut, bending and morphing to the whims of the player at hand. In VR, the player can twist it, snap it, swish it, relax it, freeze it, or even destroy it to send it back into the nothingness from whence it was born. Literally anything the player desires within their virtual rounded fried cake is possible, with a litany of tools and settings for the player to toy around with.

The donuts in My Lil’ Donut hardly look like actual donuts, the ones we consume during meetings at work or wherever else. If anything, they look more akin to the swirly art created with the VR art tool Tiltbrush. Yet, that hardly matters. The most important aspect of donuts, besides a heart-stopping sugar overload, are their perfectly circular shapes. In My Lil’ Donut, that specific shape is merely the starting point, or the canvas, for the malleable virtual sinker (note: according to Thesaurus.com, that apparently is a synonym for donutbelieve me, I’m just as confused as you are).

Destroy your donut to send it back into the nothingness from whence it was born

But it’s important to treat your pastry buddy with the respect it deserves. After all, it’s still a being. Even if it is virtual; even if it is just a donut. It still has feelings (maybe not). It still has thoughts and opinions on things like politics and if Sean Murray lied about No Man’s Sky or whatever (maybe not). And most of all, it’s your friend. A malleable friend that is sculpted according to your most personal desires, sure, but still a pal at its core. Treat your donut in VR as you would treat your pet cat (or dog, I don’t care what you prefer), with love, affection, while sometimes ignoring them when you don’t feel like petting them.

Oh shiiiiiiiiit, we're too close!
Oh shiiiiiiiiit, we’re too close to the donut!

“Build a relationship,” insists the passive game’s description page on Steam. “Because at the end, connection is the reason we are here.” It’s true. We thrive on the relationships that we forge with others, be them negative or mostly positive. Friendly, familial, professional, or ill-fated. As I once said long ago (see first paragraph), most people remember their first donut. Now we can remember our first donut in VR. A beautiful, diabetes-free future awaits us all, indeed.

You can download the saccharine My Lil’ Donut on Steam for the low, low, low, low, low cost of $0.

Versions is brought to you by Nod Labs,
Precision wireless controllers for your virtual, augmented and actual reality.
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