Duke’s class of 2020 will not graduate in-person this May because of a global pandemic that is devastating our trust funds and Robinhood accounts (Duke’s sellouts are crying). In place of an in-person graduation, Duke will be hosting a virtual “Marking the Moment Ceremony” on May 10, 2020. This will be held virtually thanks to a sponsorship from Facebook, who will be shipping an Oculus Rift to every Duke student to make the virtual reality ceremony a reality. As an expert reporter for The Chronicle, I was assigned to cover this development.
I first investigated the decision to choose Oculus Rift.
President Price explained, “We weighed a number of options before choosing VR. Some of our top choices for virtual platforms were: Roblox, The Matrix and Club Penguin Rewritten. We ultimately settled on VR because Facebook agreed to do it for free in exchange for all of Duke’s data, so how could we say no?”
MM: “Wow. Incredible. Could I try out the tool?”
PP (haha it says PP): “Yes, of course!”
The tool was incredible. It’s specially designed to recreate a four-year Duke experience. Facebook really went above and beyond to make this tool feel real, and I’d like to dedicate the majority of this article to describing my experience with Oculus Rift.
When I first put the headset on, I was dropped into East Campus during O-week. In my view were hot, scantily clad FACs moving me into my dorm—East House, pre-renovation and all; it was so damn sweaty. My RA swore I had to follow the dry campus policy, but I could smell the alcohol on their breath through the Oculus’s 5-sense features. Damn, this was good VR. They even had food at Marketplace! They didn’t actually let us eat the food though. I guess they assumed that you basic b****es have more than enough sourdough at home.
I was, however, realistically frustrated by the C1, which takes two hours to catch on the VR platform. The realism here was painful.
Next, I flashed forward to my sophomore year on Central Campus. They must have spent days diligently perfecting the atmosphere over on Central—everywhere I went smelled like Keystone; the virtual mold was so real it made me cough; I could even taste the toxic masculinity in the air.
Facebook declined to code “abroad” and just admonishingly told me that my Instagram had more than enough pictures to re-experience abroad on my own.
During my VR junior spring, I found that I could stop by Joe Van Gogh, where I was allowed to change the playlist to any song I wanted! I chose "Get Paid" by Young Dolph. Facebook also worked hard to create other great side games based on major—Pub Pol Students could play a version of Pac-Man that featured them struggling to find their way through Sanford before they’re caught by the looming deadline of their next memo. CS Students get to play a 40-hour long game called “Logisim” where they try to create their own processor without sleeping.
By senior year, I started to figure out the coolest, most realistic features of Duke’s VR campus. I stopped by the Gothic Reading Room where I could hear moaning and feel the tear-stains on the wooden desks. I also stopped by Vondy, where I found I could customize Jared’s hair to: “man-bun” or, for special occasions, “man-bun”. Outside of the library, Facebook even recreated the rancid smell of Mirecourt section. In fact, they might have somehow overdone it, as I still can’t breathe through either nostril.
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Once I finished the official tour, they granted me access to off-campus and social features. Facebook spent meticulous effort recreating off-campus staples like Shooters, Devine’s and Maverick’s. I spent a night at a VR-version of Shooters so realistic that when I took off my headset I was compelled to Google Search the term “hyperhidrosis." I then stopped by my favorite late-night locations, The Compound, Watts and The Coop, which were designed down to the last beer stain. From there, I had the opportunity to complete my graduation requirements virtually via a “u up” text option. The sex was painfully awkward—just like in real-life! I also didn’t get a text back the next day—Facebook’s attention to detail is too incredible.
Grad students will also be sent a similar simulation. Their simulation includes far fewer social features and has a flashing red number in the corner that tells them exactly how much debt they’re in down to the last cent. They do have access to off-campus bars like Boxcar, but the bars are glitchy. It would seem the bars are just there to remind them of their fleeting youth.
Twenty hours later, sweating and still in Price’s house, I took off the Oculus.
MM: “Wow, I had such a phenomenal time with the Oculus Rift! Why not send them out for LDOC too?”
PP: “We hadn’t thought of that, but we’ve got them ready…”
Duke will now be sending out these headsets, just in time for Virtual LDOC, where Joe Exotic will be performing. This LDOC feature will be so realistic that it will give alcohol poisoning to one random student watching from home.
While in Price’s office, I also discovered that Ken Jeong will likely be unavailable to speak at the virtual “Marking the Moment” ceremony because he is currently staked out in the Nevada desert to exchange a man for $80,000 in cash.
I think the Oculus’s “Marking the Moment” and LDOC experiences will shine a light on all of our quarantines and especially my quarantine during which I’ve resorted to eating only canned beans and sourdough.
Monday Monday is ashamed to say that they are no longer funny, and this article was pretty much just their girlfriend’s work.